You'd be hard-pressed to find a more focused band than You Beauty. From their tight, post-punk/new-wave sound to their concept album aesthetic that goes so far as to have a lead singer in Will Farrier who will go the entire evening of a live show without breaking the character he has so strongly created, theirs is a unique vision. This vision translates into bold albums and incredibly confident performances that have lifted them into the upper echelon of present day Australian music. No strangers to the music industry, You Beauty's four members have been playing in bands for over ten years, much of this together though in different incarnations. Wollongong locals will no doubt bring to mind classic Ohana shows, while others will have more recent memories of Absolute Boys. We caught up with Will to talk about You Beauty's brand new album Illywhacka, an autobiographical tale of a con-artist involved in the art of online romance scamming, via a chat portal (titled "Find yr soulmate, chat now!") on their new website that is worth every second one might spend on it. Below is the online transcript of said chat...
Australia (Padstow) #903 (Black Gold): Let me know when you're there sunshine...
YouBeauty: Dude it says you're in Padstow.
YouBeauty: Did you drive there to get a feel of the western 'burbs before listening to the album?
Australia (Padstow) #903: Absolutely! Nothing like driving west to get in the mood for new music. I'm surprised you don't have that as a 'recommended listening' note on the new album to be honest...
YouBeauty: It would be 'turn this record up to 8 and drive to Padstow'.
YouBeauty: I don't know where this dude on Illy (new album Illywhacka) lives though to be honest, the last one was assumed western 'burbs cause of footy, but I dunno where scammers live.
Australia (Padstow) #903: So no illusion to the Illawarra with the title, it's entirely rooted in the scammer profile?
YouBeauty: I did think that was cute after but no not intentional. I guess we can say he lives in Corrimal, that wouldn't hurt.
Australia (Padstow) #903: I'd like to abstain from comment out of respect for the good people of Corrimal but I daresay you're onto something there. So tell us about the new persona we're meeting this time around, what's his story?
YouBeauty: Haha it ain't an insult as far as I can see, it just means they are real people who can be bad and then become good, but fair enough.
YouBeauty: Well that's all in the lyrics, which people seem to be understanding in terms of the narrative. I thought it was gonna be more confusing than (first album Jersey) Flegg but from reviews and stuff it seems like people get what's happening without explanation which is cool.
YouBeauty: But I guess it's safe to say he's a real person who isn't sure what's wrong and what's right in the world. He has to figure it out like all of us.
Australia (Padstow) #903: For sure! Often concept albums can be lofty projects that don't connect with people, but it seems like you've managed two pretty brilliant laps so far. What provoked the initial decision to head in the direction of an overarching story with a character attached to each record?
YouBeauty: Just that when the boys asked me to do vocals on the first record it was already written and ready to go, but I'd just wrapped up an album for a previous band so I had absolutely nothing personal to write about.
YouBeauty: I had literally scraped the bottom of the barrel with personal experience so I had no choice but to make something up.
Australia (Padstow) #903: You alluded to the humanity of the guy we get to know on 'Illywhacka' earlier. It seems that if there is a consistency in character between albums it revolves somewhat around their flaws, but I guess ultimately these give way to fully fleshed-out and surprisingly relatable humans. Is that something you were aiming for, or does the character take over and the results are a by-product of taking on such a story?
YouBeauty: Nah it's a template for sure. It's gotta be a fairy tale.
YouBeauty: This guy is just a rehash of the last guy... I wanted it to be maybe even the same person, just at a different time of life or maybe in a parallel world...
YouBeauty: Cause it worked last time so ya know just give the people what they want! :B
Australia (Padstow) #903: Haha, absolutely! So in the meantime the band has relocated from Melbourne back to Austinmer. Was it a different process writing and recording this album outside of the city?
YouBeauty: We'll actually it was just me comin back from Melbs. Kino was already back when they did Flegg, but maybe surprisingly that didn't change anything, cause with Illy like Flegg the boys wrote the tunes and recorded them without my input, then they gave them to me to record on my own. So it was exactly the same process even though I was just down the coast from them this time. And again if it ain't broke don't fix so we'll do the next one the same. I won't go to rehearse with them and they'll write tracks on their own before I get a look in.
YouBeauty: It's a cool process because it gives us freedom to do things without getting an opinion on them, and then it throws up challenges that are interesting to solve... Like I have to fit the storyline around the emotions presented in a song, I don't get to say 'oi give me two downers and one love song and the rest fist pumpers.
Australia (Padstow) #903: It's definitely an interesting process! Do you start creating the character before or after you listen through the songs?
YouBeauty: For these two it was after and that influenced the story because for example they had a few titles for songs already, including the title Jersey Flegg, which made me think about footy. With Illy that didn't happen but I guess there may have been something less 80s about the tunes, or less obviously 80s. I dunno, but it's possible that that at least allowed me to think about the net, rather than put it in the past.
Australia (Padstow) #903: I find the fact that the music and lyrics are that separate even more interesting for how much your character and the story defines the aesthetics of You Beauty. Do you discuss your music as a whole at all going into it, or do you trust each other enough to just go for it?
YouBeauty: Nup it's pure trust. I've played with Kino for thirteen years and I played with Flyn in our first band for six, we all know each other from old Bulli High. Josh is a bud through music back from God-knows-when, so we know what each other does by now I guess and we're happy to trust it.
It's way more interesting than being in a band where you're always trying to squeeze people to play just how you want, like we have all been in. We just have this rule where everyone gets to do what they want. And it works cause we can all play well enough but also cause we're all focused on the songs, the details of individual parts aren't important, as long as they work together as a catchy tune, that's what matters.
I get that from Kino mostly. He's always been about playing the simplest part to make the song work or the beat to make you move. It's the big lesson I've learned from playing for so long with that guy and I always tip my hat to him cause most drummers just want to shred. But he'll sit the song out if he ain't needed, although we're yet to do an acoustic track :B
Australia (Padstow) #903: I'd love to see Kino on a djembe some time personally...
YouBeauty: That's the place I feel he is moving towards.
YouBeauty: The hair is long enough at least.
Australia (Padstow) #903: That is pretty awesome to have built up enough faith in each other to get to that point. Most bands never do. There's certainly a confidence that comes through in your music as a result. You've had a long history in music, starting out from Bulli High, as you said. How did you find growing up in bands in Wollongong and how do you feel the landscape has changed over the years?
YouBeauty: The coolest thing about being in the 'gong when you started was the fact the you'd always have to drive an hour and a half after a show in Sydney, so you got to discuss the show and how it went and get excited about new songs and where you wanted to take the sound. That was really important cause you were getting psyched to jam the next day, staying pumped, staying on the same page. Driving is the number one bonding time for a band IMO. Beauty don't do enough of it but maybe we're passed bonding now!
The most difficult thing was that you weren't in the city meeting people and hooking up bigger shows and supports and stuff naturally. You had to really go after stuff cause you weren't friends with the people who were in charge...
I dunno if more internet hook-ups has made that easier or not. It's definitely easier to get a support on a tour or a deal with a little label out the back of a house party at 2am rather than Facebooking people. But I'm kinda out of the loop cause half of us are in Sydney and I don't get as involved in booking shows and all that as I used to. But the 'gong seems healthy. A couple of big boys like the Bird (Shining Bird) are making people realise that cool stuff can happen outside cities. And a show at Wombarra Bowlo is basically the perfect venue for us :B
Australia (Padstow) #903: I'll second that. Love live Wombarra Bowlo! So what can we expect from You Beauty in the future? Is the focus on consistently great music? Worldwide domination? All that and more?!?
YouBeauty: Nah just tunes and good mabo. We're all full-time working so there's no time for world domination. Just some shows on the weekend every now and then and another banging record when we are ready. Well, the boys are already writing it but since they started the band without me they're always 6 months ahead of me. They recorded their Illy parts at Christmas last year! So we're outta sync but if they get writing and I get salty for a bit then we should be able to pump another out in a year or so.
Australia (Padstow) #903: Brilliant. In the meantime I hear we'll be seeing your fanny pack and white pants launching the album this weekend in Sydney?
YouBeauty: Yeah booty bags and crisp white 501s all the way!
Get along to the FREE Illywhacka album release show Saturday, October 31, 8pm at the Union Hotel in Newtown.
Learn more at: http://www.inti-mate-connections.com.au