As the saying goes: if you want something done right, do it yourself. Bored of labels and wanting to strike out on their own, Young Knives went independent to record a new EP and their fourth studio album (the former, Oh Happiness, due in a couple of weeks, the latter, Sick Octave, slated for August.

Ahead of what will surely be a busy few months for the band, I caught up with them to give them a good grilling about why exactly they went down the crowdsourcing route for the new material, as well as their new sound, and got some interesting answers in return, including why they spent way too long making their last album.

It seems like forever since you released Ornaments From the Silver Arcade, even if it's only been a little more than two years - what's changed for the band since then?

Yeah it seems forever ago. Making Ornaments was a massive learning curve for us: it was really hard to write the songs and took us way too long. We were really confused about what we should be doing, so we tried to make a fun record, and although I am proud of what we achieved, we were pushed in funny directions by other people and we were never satisfied with what we were doing with that record; what we were trying to be. So we were at the point where we either quit or we do something completely our way so that we could get back to enjoying being in a band. I couldn't really quit, because it's too much fun and I love making music, so we had to change it up and make the crazy ass record we have always wanted to do.

What made you want to go down the crowdsourcing route to fund the new EP/album?

We looked at it before and thought it was a bit naff. I didn't like the way that it looked like bands were begging fans for money, suddenly your fans become customers which is really unnerving and completely changes the dynamic. But then the whole thing has changed already with social networking and it's got its pros and its cons. We just thought, 'if we treat it like a pre-order with a few extra treats, then we can make a record without begging record labels for handouts'.

It also means that the only people we have to impress are our listeners, so the only pressure is making a super cool record. It's a good way of making a record owned by the listeners, which is exciting for us and them. I think it brings the people who back our project closer to the record and gives them a tangible understanding of what goes in to making it and in a way that makes music more precious.

How did you come to the realisation that shopping the album and EP around to labels wasn't going to work?

It was more that we couldn't be arsed to even try shopping it around. The thought of it made my heart sink. Labels need to make a record pay, so from the onset you have set off in the wrong direction. It was fine when people bought music, but now it's all money pinching and sucking through teeth. We've kind of been planning it for a while, we built our own basic studio, bought some old equipment off eBay so that we were self-sufficient.

We always thought that really we should be able to do it ourselves - what is the point in spending £50,000 on studio time and producer fees when we knew we could make a fun, cool record? Maybe not a slick record, but then I don't like slick records; I'd rather listen to a record with a bit of grit and passion. We could have got a shit record deal but it wouldn't have added anything to our album; there might have been a marketing budget but they would have wanted to use their people, and how do we know if they give a shit about the record until it's too late? Better to find people that are passionate about the music, that we trust and have some fun making it and putting it out. Then we only have ourselves to blame if it gets fucked up.

What exactly did you mean when describing Sick Octave as a 'completely undiluted Young Knives record'?

It just means that no one has watered it down, no producer, no one telling us which songs should be singles. And it's a record we have crafted ourselves, it's been hours and hours of pissing around with sounds and soldering wires, not just rocking up to a studio, playing our songs and letting other people do the rest, and then telling us which bits are good.

How would you describe the album as a whole? The new EP hints at your sound moving in a different direction; is it all uncharted territory for the band?

It's a proper mix of styles. I have no idea if it will hang together. Some of it's really noisy and we've made loads of beats out of hitting metal and guitar noises and vocal stuff. Then some of the record is just simple songs. Half of the record is totally made with samples and synths and loops all to the grid and then we did a bunch of songs with no click track so they are live and speed up and slow down. We did one song drunk and played it really badly but with a lot of energy. We just tried a load of shit out; some of it might be bollocks but I hope there is a passion and joy to it that makes it an exciting listen.

Are any of the songs from the Oh Happiness EP going to make it onto the album, or are the album and EP completely separate entities?

I think 'Maureen' might go on the album because I want more people to hear that song, it's one of my favourite songs I have ever written.

Which of the songs from the EP is your favourite, and why?

‘Maureen', but I love 'Reproduction' too because I always wanted to do a song like an homage to Suicide (the band, not the thing).

You're playing the Buffalo Bar in London in a couple of weeks, what can we expect from the new Young Knives live show?

It's more of a mix of machines and guitars. It's not going to be backing track stuff though. We basically have to strip these new songs down to a raw three-piece sound for live so we are definitely not trying to recreate the records. There are too many parts for six hands. So the live shows are going to be all about partying and 'stage craft'.

It's interesting that you decided to include Nolens Volens in the rewards packages - it features demos of songs from Voices of Animals and Men, your debut album, which was released all the way back in 2006. Do you still feel a connection to that album?

I feel a connection to all the records we have made, you don't forget things like that. Nolens Volens was our first DIY release and this is our second, so it makes sense.

Finally, what have you learned from the creation of the new album and EP?

  • 1. Don't over-think it.
  • 2. We DO know what we are doing.
  • 3. You can hear it in a record if the people making it were having fun, even if it's a dark and nasty record. So enjoy it; otherwise it will be shit.
  • 4. There is no wrong way of making music.<
  • 5. Small children can sleep through 4 hours of drilling metal and men screaming.

The Oh Happiness EP is released June 24, and is launched at the Buffalo Bar in London two days later; Sick Octave follows in August.