Youth Ahead - Friends Starting from Scratch" -EC Rocker,
March 22, 2000.
The Youth Ahead are a band with a short, but bright history. These
guys havent played in 20 other bands, they havent been studying
their respective instruments for their entire lives, and they
havent fallen into the trap of changing musical styles because of
what is popular at the time.
What these guys do have is a friendship that most bands lack. Two
out of the three members learned their instruments just by jamming
with each other. They did what they wanted to do; they had fun
hanging out and writing funny songs. You can always find that guy
at the party who can play guitar and used to know how to play
Stairway To Heaven or maybe a Ramones tune, but thats usually
as far as it goes.
The Youth Ahead started out this way, rocking out with some
friends in the basement, but they took their act to the stage and
were welcomed with open arms. In a relatively short time, these
guys went from being kings of their basement to one of the best
bands on the local circuit. With a little good ol fashioned hard
work, theyve done some touring, released two full-length CDs, as
well as numerous compilation tracks, and the demand for The Youth
Ahead is growing. They are great friends with each other and
friends of mine and what follows is our conversation at their
home, the local diner.
AW: So whats the how, when and where behind The Youth Ahead? And
lets not talk about Jays behind.
Sean: It started right after Christmas in 1995. It was just me and
Jay; we didnt have a bass player.
Jay: We were sitting in a pizza place. I had just gotten drums,
Sean just got a guitar, and we said, Hey, lets start a band! We
left the pizza place and went to my house and played every day for
about six months. We used to cut 12th period to go play.
Sean: It all started when people would come over and watch and
think that we were pretty good.
AW: So Chris, whats your story?
Chris: I met these guys after the singer in my band had died in a
car accident. When he died, I just quit music. I was pretty
depressed about it. I put an ad in The Aquarian just to give it
another shot. I went on about 30 auditions and stuck with these
guys. These guys were the most serious.
Jay: We started in 95 with a bass player, but he left. When that
happened, we thought we could either stop doing this or really
start a band. We tell people we started in 95, but in my eyes,
I think that we werent really serious until Chris joined the band
about two years ago. We didnt want to do a CD unless we were
serious about it. Then Chris joined, and we started recording a
AW: So where are you guys from?
Jay: Im from Old Bridge.
Sean: Im from Old Bridge/Matawan.
Chris: I used to live in Ocean Township, now I live in Manchester.
AW: Right now, the Jersey music scene is pretty strong, but how
was it when The Youth Ahead began?
Sean: It was really strange. When we started out, there really
wasnt the pop-punk bands that there are now. Everyone was doing
the Nirvana alternative grunge thing, and there were no local ska
bands except for Inspecter 7, at least that I can remember.
Jay: A lot of bands that we first started playing with broke up or
got into new bands that started playing the punk scene. Then those
bands broke up and started ska bands, and we played with them. I
think now, the scene has punk and ska bands and not one more than
the other. It has kind of leveled out.
Sean: There are really good hardcore bands, really good ska bands,
and really good punk bands.
AW: The Youth Ahead records seem to have a light-heartedness about
them. Knowing some of your background now, when you first set out
to create a band, did you want to do something funny? What do you
think of bands that are overtly political?
Jay: When we first started playing, we did not know how to play.
We didnt know anything about anything. We were just two guys
[who] wanted to have fun. So thats what we sang about.
Sean: We were subjected to the things that we write about, every
day. We were still in high school, a lot of songs are about
teenage life. The crowd can relate to what were singing about
because they were all going through the same things.
AW: So what motivated you to start playing in a band? With no
musical background, you started from nothing.
Jay: I didnt have a clue, the first time I played with Sean was
the first time I set up my drums.
Sean: It was just fun. Honestly we didnt think it would get this
far. We would write songs about baking soda. Friends would come
over and we would write songs about people [who] came down the
stairs. We would do it every day and we got compliments from our
friends. We got an offer to play our first show at our high
school. We got a bass player and we had a great time.
AW: Who would you guys cite as musical influences? When learning
an instrument, you kind of take on a style of what youre
Jay: Less Than Jake, Weston. I was listening to a lot of Weston.
Sean: Green Day. I was so impressed that he could take the same
four chords and make them sound so cool. Billie Joe is someone
[who] I really studied a lot.
Jay: Influences on The Youth Ahead, I think, MXPX, Green Day,
Weston. Im a huge Less Than Jake fan, Millencolin, the Bouncing
Souls. Chris is a big Yanni fan.
AW: Keeps Ya Movin is The Youth Aheads first record. That was
put out on Red Iguana Records. How did you get hooked up with
Jay: Felix Frump hooked us up. We played with them a few times and
they were the band that put out their hand and helped us out. They
put out their CD on Red Iguana, and Miguel came down and hooked us
up with all of the connections that we needed. Those guys put us
on our feet. They really helped us out a lot with shows.
AW: What kind of touring did you do at that time?
Sean: We played out of state in Pennsylvania and New York, but no
AW: I Want Your Girlfriend, Ode To The Dollar: most of your
songs are about chicks. Whats that all about?
Jay: We sing about what we know. (laughter) Your best friend is
going out with this real hot chick and youre thinking, Wow, I
want your girlfriend! There you go. Ode To The Dollar kind of
speaks for itself. In the song it says, I call Jay, he calls
Mike, Mike is a good friend of ours. The whole ode to the dollar
story is, I called Sean during the day to see if he wanted to go
to the nudie bar with us, but he was in school. Well, 20 minutes
later, guess who cuts out of school and goes to the nudie bar? So
the story is Jay and Mike call Sean, Sean drops out of school.
Sean: This is not to discourage anyone from their education.
AW: The second record, A Day At The Park, was put out on Punkture
Point Records. How did you get hooked with Annie and Punkture
Jay: We wanted to put out the second record and Annie wanted to
put out a record on Punkture Point. So a friend called us, said
hey, call Annie, and we put out the record.
AW: What was the time frame from Keeps Ya Movin to A Day In The
Sean: Almost a year. The only thing was that Keeps Ya Movin was
recorded in January and released in the Summer, where A Day In The
Park was recorded in June and released the next month.
AW: Now youve got two CDs under your belt and some great opening
spots with Shades Apart, Fenix TX, and an upcoming Less Than Jake
show. What do you think of people who think The Youth Ahead are a
new band because theyve never heard of you before?
Jay: Some people say, You guys came out of nowhere. But weve
busted our asses for years. When we decided to just get serious,
we did nothing but try our hardest and do the best that we can.
Chris: We pay our dues. We practice twice a week, we do whatever
needs to get done. We work.
Sean: A lot of our really true friends know what weve been
through since the beginning. When we played with Quiet Riot and
they see us now, we know what weve been through and what weve
done. We also know that we cant please everybody.
AW: What are some of the more immediate plans for the Youth?
Touring? Concerts East has been helping out a bit, right?
Jay: We played [with] Shades Apart and that went well. Concerts
East has been great to us, weve played with Jimmies Chicken
Shack, Fenix TX, and we will be playing with Less Than Jake. My
future plans for the Youth Ahead would be for more touring.
Everyone has been helping us out. We also just finished recording
for a 7´´. Its going to be us, Bum Rukus, a ska band from
Florida, and Cooter. Its going to be a four-way split, and it
will be four songs for $2. I think well just put it out
Sean: Its something new every day.
AW: Youve said that The Youth Ahead have a few things happening
out West? How is that going?
Jay: This magazine, Virtual Alternative, that goes to radio
stations and record labels. It just keeps you updated on whats
selling. This record store, Now and Then on RT. 35, was selling
our CD pretty well. The magazine called up and wanted a CD. We
sent them one and the guy liked it, and they put us on a
compilation that they do every month. Garbage, Bare Naked Ladies,
and Primus are just a few of the bands that are on it. This got
sent to radio stations and they started playing our song, F.Y.M.
Were just trying to do as many comps as possible.
AW: Any last words?
Jay: I just want to say thanks to everyone for helping us out.
Check out the website at theyouthahead.com. Our girlfriends,
Concerts East, all the bands that weve played with. Michelle at
The Aquarian, she hooked us up.
(At this point Jay doesnt want the interview to be over so he
gave me a few questions.)
Jay: Usually we get asked what bands that we would like to give a
shout out to. If you ask, Ill give you an answer.
AW: Okay, what bands do you like playing with?
Sean: Dodgeball, both sexually and musically.
Jay: Local bands that we love? Dodgeball, LWL, Last Perfect Thing,
Shades Apart, Lanemeyer, Day 19, Seti Alpha Six, there are just so
many great bands.
Sean: And Isabella (related to the Seti Alpha Six crew) can make
one hell of a chicken parmesan.
Jay: Another person [who] we really have to thank [who] we
sometimes overlook and forget to mention is Mike the webguy. He
does a great job and we have to thank him. He really hooks us up,
and I always feel bad because I forget to mention him. So if
youre reading this Mike, Thank You.