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Young's Heart Runs Free
One of the architects of Belfast’s legendary ‘70s punk scene, Brian Young is now giving it maximum sockage with rockabilly outfit The Sabrejets.
Colin Carberry, 11 Nov 2011
Sin-Sational, The Sabrejets’ new album, is a chest-out, unapologetic avowal of these values. Yes, there’s an undeniable peacock strut to the music, lyrically, though (whether in the re-casting of Australian tattooist Cindy Ray as feminist icon, or the machismo-puncturing, ‘I Dig Chicks’) there’s more going on than meets the eye. Likewise, the handful of covers that appear – Thunders, The Ramones and The Outcasts – may seem like obvious choices, but Brian’s clear about the point he’s wanting to make.
“Punk came out of glam and rock ‘n’ roll,” he says. “People are very quick to talk about glam, but they never mention rock ‘n’ roll. I got into rockabilly through T-Rex and The New York Dolls. It was such a big influence on their songs. They covered tunes like ‘Summertime Blues’ and ‘Pills’. But there was a lot of crossover in the early days. McLaren dressed like a Ted, That’ll Be The Day was out, there were some amazing rock ‘n’ roll reunion tours, and you’d bands like Dr. Feelgood. For all punk’s ‘smash the system’ rhetoric, it stole an awful lot of imagery from The Teddy Boys. I mean, the mohican is just a version of quiff, really. And the small labels, multi-band tours – rockabillys were doing that long before punk.”
It would be no injustice to find Brian Young playing to much bigger audiences now, but you’ll hear little in the way of belly-aching from the man himself. In fact, liberated from the toxic industry demands that did for his first band, you suspect he couldn’t be happier.
“Once you get past the stage of wanting to be famous,” he proffers, “it becomes much easier. Youth has a lot of advantages, but it isn’t everything. We work all week and play weekends. As soon as you’re dependent on it for a living, you get tempted. Once you’re on a label, you have to do what you’re told. I got disillusioned with the music business after Rudi, but I came out the other side. You don’t have to be part of that world, you don’t have to compete. Today we’re not dealing with booking agents or anything like that – it’s all individuals, putting up their own money. It’s full of people doing it for the love. I get enjoyment writing songs, playing gigs – that’s enough for me. I can do my own thing.”
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