There are instrumentalists and there are lyricists. Though the former has shaped music, turning the term “indie rock” into an extensive genre that stretches sounds and styles, songwriting has taken a step forward in the recent years. Taking a note from the intimacy behind records crafted by the likes of Manchester Orchestra and Conor Oberst, Carmen Cirignano aka YOUNG STATUES has constructed an emotional self-titled debut, one that channels inner struggles and realizations through a brand of rock that’s both alt country and lighter, acoustic pop punk. Before a short run across the United Kingdom, the Philadelphia native discussed his band’s new record and why being completely honest is vital in terms of writing music and performing on stage.
As a songwriter, are you more encouraged to be honest or to write songs with character that also have the ability to tell a story?
I am not entirely concerned with being honest. There have been brilliant songwriters that create stories of their own that end up being great. Personally, most of my songs tend to be honest because I draw the most inspiration I can from my own experiences.
On the debut LP, every song does seem to be a reflection of a personal moment in itself. Are you solely inspired by instances you’ve gone through or are you also inspired by others around you?
Mostly by my own experiences. The songs I write that mean the most to me always end up being the most honest.
What would you say is the most personal track on the record?
All of them are pretty personal, but if I had to pick one it would probably be “Half Light”. To have something completely come out of nowhere, be out of control, and have no idea why it was a bad feeling – that song is the realization the situation is unresolvable. It’s the most personal to me because every time we play it or I hear it, I remember exactly how I felt in that exact moment.
“I’ve written a lot of songs that are
really intimate in terms of the specific relationships and people they are about. There have been times looking back where that’s become uncomfortable, but I think that you need to be completely honest..”
Young Statues developed from a series of recordings created by friends. What influenced you to develop them?
I loved the songs more than anything else I’d ever written. It happened so naturally and felt so good that I didn’t want to stop. I was enjoying things I previously didn’t think I could in the process of recording, so I just kept with it.
Were there any outside influences that affected the material?
I went to Athens, Georgia, to do some of the recording; I just thought taking a trip somewhere might be an inspiring thing, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I recorded at a studio owned by a man named David Barbe who runs the University of Georgia music program and is a really talented musician. Some of the bands down there that they record had an influence on some of the alt-country sounds you hear on the record.
Do you think being intimate to a point that makes you uncomfortable when writing and recording is an aspect that’s missing from music?
I’ve written a lot of songs that are really intimate in terms of the specific relationships and people they are about. There have been times looking back where that’s become uncomfortable, but I think that you need to be completely honest about what you feel to get the most out of a song.
How would you describe Young Statues’ sound?
I think we take influence from so many bands of so many different styles, but we have a sound that is our own. I don’t see us taking a drastically different approach and changing our sound on the next record. We as a group just like to write and play the kind of music that we enjoy.
From the slide guitar to the hints of early 2000s’ Drive-Thru Records pop punk to the opening of the track “Pretty Girls Make Raves”, the album holds a lot of variety. Was this on purpose?
Not really. I didn’t go into the recording process knowing what I wanted each song to end up sounding like. It was usually me writing something on a guitar by myself and then as a group, we built the song around it. All of those different styles definitely influenced the writing process though.
How much did the sound change since the first sessions in Athens?
A lot. Steve Poponi, who co-produced and engineered the record and plays in the band, had a huge influence on the album. We recorded most of it at his studio and mixed it there and it was a great process. I had more fun doing this record than anything else I’ve ever done.
Though most may not really know it, albums play a very significant part in a musician’s life; does Young Statues fill a void in yours or inspire you in anyway now that it’s actually released?
Absolutely. Music is my outlet and the most ultimate release in life. If I couldn’t write and play songs with my friends… I am not sure where else I could find that feeling that comes from doing that.
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