In the spotlight – Black Suit Youth

In the spotlight – Black Suit Youth

Black Suit Youth are a four piece DIY rock band from New York (USA) consisting of Bryan Maher (vocals & guitar), Fed Cane (lead guitar), Lee Nelson (drums), Juan Orellana (bass).

“We’re from Queens, Long Island, and Yonkers. Formerly of Brooklyn and The Bronx. We just need to gain a member from Staten Island and we’ll have covered the whole map!”

Currently signed to 59X Records, they have been self-releasing albums and EPs and booking their own tours for years. They have played sold out theaters with bands such as Story of the Year and Alien Ant Farm.

You formed the band in 2004 under the name The New York Dynamite. Why did you change the name of the band in 2007? Was it a change in (musical) direction?

“The New York Dynamite sounded more like a women’s soccer team than a band. The music stayed the same. We just got a lot better at our instruments and arrangements after working with Tomas Costanza as a producer.”

I read you have gone through some lineup changes over the years, what is making this current group click?

“Some line up changes is an understatement! We’ve had 11 bassists, 5 drummers, and 4 lead guitarists. We’re putting up Santana numbers!It’s a hard life so it is what it is. This crew is solid though and the first ever to record two albums in a row and an EP without a line up change. So this is the band. Everyone really vibes well with each other and we all love hanging out together, so it’s the easiest and most fun it’s ever been. Plus we’re all older and wiser. It’s only rock n roll now and not life or death!“

You started the band nearly two decades ago. What were some of the goals and or the visions you had as a band back then? Have those goals changed?

“In the 2000’s the goal was to be rich and famous Rock Gods, tour the world and change the face of music! These days we’ve dialed it back a lot! It’s just about writing the best songs we can, songs that get us pumped to play them, and having a good time. We’ve all got kids, bills, etc. We’re out there playing with all younger bands now, some much younger, so it’s been great being accepted by the next generation and passing on what we’ve learned, especially what not to do!”

What is the process like when you’re writing music together? How much do you bounce around ideas with each other?

“The songs come about so many different ways. Some are born out of jams. Some just start with a riff or a structure that someone brings in or emails around. Some are just lyrics or ideas. Some are just a drum pattern we’re all vibing with. We’re open to a good idea from anywhere. We’ve done the traditional drive to some exotic place, lock yourselves in a room and don’t come out without some songs approach, but most times the songs just strike at a random time from somewhere out in the ether and we just do our best to channel the inspiration into existence.”

What is one element of a song that has to be absolutely perfect before you’re satisfied with it?

“The song has to have a great second verse that really ups the dynamics and tension and moves the piece forward. So many songs have phoned in second verses that are just duds. We have the best second verses in the business!”

You recently dropped a new single ‘La Luna’. What can you tell us about it?

“La Luna is a fun upbeat summer banger. It’s a tour story, those are always fun. Shout out to the Wreck Room, RIP! Kinda got an Out Come The Wolves era Rancid vibe to it. And I got to finally play a Vibro-slap.”

Up until this point in your career, what would you describe as your favourite song you’ve recorded or performed live? What makes that song special?

“Probably ‘Outsiders’. I love how it came out, especially since we tracked it ourselves with our own live gear. I always look forward to playing it live. Peter Catalano did a bang up job mixing it!”

When it comes to making music versus playing live, which part of the music process do you like the most?

“I used to always love the studio more than playing live, but that’s starting to change as of late. The stage has become more thrilling and more effortless. We used to rehearse to the point of overkill, now it’s way more loose. I honestly enjoy getting a little lost in the woods and seeing if we can find our way back out sometimes now. In the studio we have total control as long as the equipment ghosts cooperate and can take as many takes as we want, live it’s one shot and that’s it, which is exciting.”

What can people expect when they see you live?

“To get their faces rocked off.”

What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve?

“It’s cliché but, we just want to be heard. We’re not making it to keep it to ourselves.”

What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands these days?

“Anyone who says this is the greatest time to be an indie artist is out of their minds and full of crap! Six million songs are released a day, only people with huge bankrolls or extremely lotto winning level good luck are making the good playlists and rise above the deluge. Payola is realer than ever. Major labels and big box retailers are sucking up all the worlds vinyl and pressing 30 different exclusive colored versions of every Taylor Swift, or Adele record to bill the rabid completists and reissuing their 70 years worth of catalogues, and that’s making the price to just make a short run of records to sell at gigs unattainable for many artists who don’t get paid much from streams. Plus these huge major label projects tie up the few presses and make the wait times so long to even get your records, that you may miss your tour window. The venues take cuts of your merch now. Tours are pay to play. Gas is expensive. Bands don’t have as much discretion in who they take with them and artist development is non existent, hence a lot of new music is disposable trash! Today you are an artist solely because you love it or you just need to be. The idea of doing well financially is a thing of the last for most of us. End of old man yells at cloud rant.”

As we look ahead to the rest of 2023, what can we expect?

“More singles and our next album this fall! Maybe more singles after that as we recorded 20 songs, but they don’t all work together cohesively and 20 song albums are too daunting to subject people to!”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“I really dig ‘Shapes’ from Sparralimb, I can’t write a decent baritone guitar riff ever, so I always respect a good catchy one. Also shout out to Lobsterbomb, that’s a sick name and now I want some sushi!”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“I’d like to add ‘Detective’ by The Killakee House. This band and song rule! Amazing hooks! Great people we know from down in Atlanta!”

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