James Hanna’s new band Youth Worship is an unabashed, hit-you-in-the-face celebration of guitar rock. “When I was a kid if I read that an album had fuzz guitars on it, I had to buy it”, he happily recalls. “When I first saw the word ‘fuzz’ I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew I had to have it and make it”. James got his first cheapo fuzz pedal for Christmas when he was 12 and hasn't looked back yet. For over a decade, James was a sonic force in Asobi Seksu, but where his former band combined ethereal dream pop with noisier guitar elements, Youth Worship has committed much further to guitar mayhem.
After playing some big fuzzed out riffs and practicing some screaming for his own gratification, Hanna realized that he had some great songs on his hands and called on long time friends Will Donnelly and Larry Gorman, who had also been the drummer in Asobi Seksu, to more fully realize the new material.
While their first collection of songs, released as a cassette EP was an unashamed ode to their early 90’s alterna-rock influences, the band’s sound on LP1 has further evolved into an amalgamation of varying sounds and styles, with loud guitars being the common denominator. From the short circuited Black Flag-isms of “Euphoric Recall”, the blissful noisepop of “Less”, or the Sonic Youth noise breakdown of "Spinners", Youth Worships' only credo is to have unapologetic, ridiculous fun and not over analyze any of it.
The debut LP was recorded mostly live in their Queens practice space with overdubs done in James’ Mothers house on Long Island “It was a weird nostalgia trip blasting a Marshall stack in my childhood bedroom, my mom had much more patience for it than she did back when..I actually think she secretly enjoyed it “. The album also happens to be James’ first official foray into the world of producing and engineering. “I learned a lot while making this record by just trying things out. The most important thing for me was that our chemistry and the energy we create when we play together shines through in the recording.”
“Eternal Scene”, the first single from the debut LP starts with a simple guitar riff but quickly builds to a seething crescendo where the band is joined by Wata, of Japanese noise rock trio Boris, who contributes a guitar solo and backup vocals. James originally befriended the members of Boris while on tour with Asobi. “I was very excited when Wata and Atsuo readily agreed to contribute their talents to my new project.” In addition to Wata's guitar and vocal contributions, Atsuo also added extra synth-noise to the Stooges meets Spacemen, eight guitar cataclysm freakout section of “Come Alive”.
They may not have a bassist live, but for what they may lack in low end, they more than make up for in pure raw intensity. While the band may occasionally feel “ a bit silly” hauling huge amps into tiny DIY spots, the sheer volume they generate becomes the fourth member of Youth Worship during their pummeling live sets.
Despite some misunderstandings in comments and messages, Youth Worship is not a Christian band. They firmly supports the dark arts and pledge their undying allegiance to the shadow lord. Amen. Fuzz.