They Came, They Rocked, They Conquered
Artsweek Interviews the Young Turks
By Sierra Christman
The Young Turks are taking Isla Vista by storm, but not by force, as they continue to confidently conquer the hearts and ears of partygoers with a unique style of rock that utterly defies categorization. With a style that includes vocals delivered with a simplified, raw edge that is reminiscent of Brandon Boyd and guitar hooks that run the gamut from indie to punk to metal, it is easy to understand why their talent and eclecticism appeals to fans of every genre. As the band’s local notoriety grows, it is clear that they are favorites of both their devoted fans and first-time listeners alike. Artsweek sat down with the Young Turks (Brendan Finch: lead vocals/keyboard, Ron Dore: bass guitar, Matt Heitzmann: guitar, Kenrick Phan: guitar and Lou Precissi: drums) shortly before a recent performance in I.V. to find out a little more about the band.
Why did you pick the name the Young Turks?
Brendan: I don’t know. Lou came up with it.
Lou: I forgot what the definition was.
Brendan: The Young Turks are a group of young insurgents that take over by power and make change.
Lou: I kind of thought of it in the sense that, if there were a law firm or something, and these new guys come in and they just rise through the ranks and just change it all, it just turns into something totally different. That was the context. It doesn’t really pertain to us, but you know, sometimes a name…
Brendan: Don’t say that, it totally does.
How long have you guys been together, and what was your motivation for forming a band?
Brendan: Wow… nine months? Was it January?
Ron: Ken, Heitzmann and I were in a band before and we wanted to keep playing music together, and then we found a drummer, Lou, and then Ken switched.
Ken: Because my other band broke up…
Brendan: And so how long?
Ron: Nine months ago.
Brendan: Yeah, just say nine months ago. Nine months is exactly it. I’m fucking positive.
Matt: It’s like giving birth. (He laughs).
Brendan: Being conceived was probably the most fun part of that process, though.
What do you feel you’re bringing to the Isla Vista music scene? Why should people come and see you play, as opposed to the other bands here?
Matt: Because we’re bringing back rock ‘n ‘roll.
Brendan: I think our music [brings] a lot more dance into the scene with the keyboard, and also the guitar parts are a little more indie rock ‘n ‘roll, and they make kids move more than just stand there and watch.
Lou: We realize that the main scene in this town is for reggae, but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that if you listen to reggae and came to one of our shows, you would [still] have a good time because it’s ‘feel good’ music and it’s fucking rock ‘n’ roll, and you can’t go wrong.
Sort of a second part to that question, what do you think are some positive and some negative aspects to being a band in Isla Vista?
Brendan: There’s a lot of competition.
Matt: You get a lot of exposure, because there are a lot of drunk kids that want to listen to music.
Ken: There are a lot of drunk kids at our shows.
Brendan: Usually the crowds grow as the night goes on because people are a lot more active.
Matt: People just want to hear any kind of music.
Lou: Alright, so the upside: It’s a great party scene, it’s really easy for us to get into somebody’s yard and put on a show, but the bad thing is that there’s not a lot of loyalty from fans. Like, I think if you hit it hard and put yourself out there a ton, you’ll build up, but it takes time.
Ken: Parking sucks balls.
Lou: Oh yeah, parking sucks. That needs to be in caps, and bold. (He laughs).
What are some of your personal musical influences?
Brendan: All of us come from really different backgrounds.
Lou: My heart is in classic rock. I started with punk rock; the first band I was ever in was punk rock, and then I got into the classic rock and that’s where my heart is. I’m obsessed with going to concerts, and every time I go to a concert it’s like, ‘That was the best show I’ve ever seen,’ and then I go to the next one and it’s like, ‘No, that’s the best show I’ve ever seen.’ That’s where I get my fucking inspiration.
Ken: I played in a punk rock band in high school and played cracked-out rock. It was dance rock, I guess, ’cause we didn’t do crack. (He laughs). No, it was definitely crack rock. I played piano.
Ron: I’ve always been in tons of bands growing up, especially in high school. I grew up listening to a shitload of jazz; my dad has like, 400 jazz CDs. I’ve always been around music, I wanted to play music at shows, you know, all that good stuff.
Matt: I grew up on punk, and like…
Ken, Ron, Brendan, Lou: Metal!
Matt: You don’t have to put that in there.
Lou: Oh, but it brings in a totally different creative interpretation to our band. His interests and his knowledge of metal music are directly translated through our songs. Seriously, that’s why a lot of our songs are really different because this guy will write a song that’s very metal and harder, and then we’ll add in some synth and shit, and it just comes together.
Brendan: I was in a band in high school and I used to play saxophone in marching band, and so I learned to really love music from when I was a little kid, and then I just got really into indie rock and it was every concert I could get my hands on; I do concerts at UCSB. …Pretty much we all just eat, breathe, sleep, live music.
What do you want people to know about your band?
Brendan: We’ve been told that our songs are kind of like, ideological songs that are disguised as love songs.
Lou: We just love to play for people, and watching people dance and get into our shows is just the ultimate…
Brendan: It’s the biggest high that we have.
What should people expect at one of your shows?
Matt: We’ve got some energy, I know that much.
Brendan: To listen to something different.
Lou: I really think it’s different from anything else that you’d hear on Friday or Saturday night in Isla Vista.
Matt: I don’t know. If our past shows are representative of what’s going to happen in the future, it’s a fucking dance party. Just go nuts, get stupid!
What kind of plans do you guys have for the band in the future?
Ron: Let’s play in L.A.!
Lou: Our short-term goal is to get back in the studio, just to play some shows and get around by word of mouth and use the Internet for all that it’s worth. Just see how far the wave takes us.
Matt: You can’t predict the future, but we’ll do the best we can.
What are you hoping to take away from this as you all move on and graduate?
Brendan: Just have a fucking good time.
Ken: Every single part of it is fun.
Lou: Absolutely, it’s all fun, if we stopped the second that we all graduate, it’s all good.
Is there anything else that you would want people to know about the Young Turks?
Brendan: Come to our shows! (He laughs). We’re not trying to stand for something, it’s just having a good time, we have a good time, you have a good time, that’s it.
Matt: We don’t have an agenda, we don’t try to do this and that, we just want people who have an open mind and want to have a good time, and that’s the way it is.
More information about the Young Turks is available at www.myspace.com/theyoungturksmusic.