Young Pretorians have one simple goal, to enjoy everything you do and leave the drama for someone else to worry about. With their debut EP, State Actors, set for release on the 23rd July 2021, from the second you hit play the message shines through their music. Exploring real people and living real lives, there’s something for everyone to connect to. With a raw and honest feel, the band’s sound spans from accessible pop punk to a storytelling Americana feel, all while maintaining a distinct and signature sound. Figuring out life bit by bit and working through whatever is thrown at you, Young Pretorians deliver a sense of community and comfort, knowing you’re not alone and getting through that first hurdle.
While the world hit the pause button during 2020, Young Pretorians decided to really kickstart their journey. With odds of uncertainty set against them, the band have released two incredible tracks with the EP set to boost you even further.
Navigating various projects and being friends for years, these four guys (Mike, Will, Marshy and Pete) have come together to form something truly special and are easily marking their place on the scene as ones to watch. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Pete Darwent to find out more about their journey…
How did the band come together as Young Praetorians after a culmination of various projects?
We’ve all known each other for years. It just somehow happened that all of our various bands fizzled out, nothing dramatic, no one quit, it wasn’t bad, just everything fizzled out. I wanted to start something again and start writing again and so Marshy who’s the guitarist, there’s sort of an unwritten rule that whatever I do he has to come along and do as well. I don’t know why it just happens.
We then did a bit of going through the local music scene trying to find the right drummer, that’s the hardest one. Then at the same time we were trying to work out who was going to play bass. The most important part of a band is the rhythm section and that’s the bit we left till last. We ended up getting hold of Mike to play drums he’s someone I’ve known for years. We got Will to play bass, me and Will used to live together in uni, he was in an old band of mine. It’s an incest us music scene as most small cities are. It’s a small pool to dip into but it’s kinda cool because everyone kinda knows each other. We all knew each other and what we could all do. Weirdly we’re a band of all guitarists so we’re that first and foremost. Everyone is doing something a bit different to normal.
If you could describe the EP in five words what would they be?
Punky, guitary, rocky, Occasionally moody.
Is there a song or lyric from the EP that particularly stands out for you?
I’m meant to say I love all songs equally, like parents do for their kids. I think one of the ones I enjoy playing as a band most, is desperation party scene. It’s like the most punk one on there. It’s quite quick, its bouncy, it’s just one of the fun noisey ones to play. We all enjoy making noise.
Lyrically, it’s difficult…it’s like picking my favourite child again, where I wrote all the lyrics. I’m most proud of the lyrics for the last single, Average Conversations Between Average People. You know when you’ve finished something and you look at it like, yeah everything is where it needs to be. I’m like everyone creative, hate almost everything I do.
“I’m a firm believer that there’s always something to learn about yourself. You should always be growing. The whole point of being alive is furthering yourself, keeping growing, and understanding yourself more.”
There’s definitely a coming of age, American movie feel when you listen to the EP from start to finish. Where did the inspiration for that vibe come from?
When it comes to writing songs, what I can’t do is be like “I’m going to write a song about this subject” I just kinda write about what I’m going through or what people around me are going through and then my take on it really. I’m gonna sound somewhat hippieish here, but I’m a firm believer that there’s always something to learn about yourself. You should always be growing. The whole point of being alive is furthering yourself, keeping growing, and understanding yourself more. I’ve never come to that point where I think “I’ve grown up now”. Last year I maybe had that thought, but if I look back now, I’m like “Well that guy had no idea” and it’s the same now when I look back next year. It’s a common theme throughout the songs. Dealing with how you go out into the world and how you deal with the challenges that go with that. A lot of the songs reflect on that and take that in. It’s like saying this isn’t what we signed up for, but how are we going to get through this. Looking at the mental strain on everyone, you know things will get hard and get difficult, but you will get through whatever life throws at you, and you need people to help get through that and knowing people are there. There’s one song, The Shakes, it’s like a tirade against people working for big companies and making sure you look after yourself. That’s probably the most obvious one where my political leanings come forward. It kinda says do stuff that’s good for you and look after yourself. I’ve done jobs that have utterly destroyed me and I’ve been a shell of a man, that’s kinda my coming-of-age thing where I’ve gone okay that’s not great, I’ve been in a bad way what do I need to do to take care of myself. I guess a lot of it’s about that of looking at what’s best for me and how do I look after myself.
I went through a period of going through being depressed. The best thing I ever did was counselling. I’m now over that and doing better.
What would you say have been the biggest musical influences for you as a band?
We’re the same postcode as like Spanish Love Songs and The Menzingers. You know what I find is a lot of music I’m drawn to, weirdly is music played by people who as kids were probably into faster crazy punk music, but as they’ve got older, they’ve slowed down a bit. They sing about what’s going on, maybe listen to Bruce Springsteen a bit too much, like I’m guilty of that too. That all gets merged together. Spanish Love Songs are really cool. His lyrics are quite raw. I don’t think I’m quite as obvious about those things. Most of the bands I listen to, the best ones come from a real place. It’s not just plastic crap. That means more to me and I can relate more to that. There’s been a big shift in the punk music world lately where a lot of those bands are not as politically focused anymore. It’s more about being aware and of the mental health side of life. Most people I know in punk bands have some kind of struggle with mental health. There’s anxiety there or depression. I went through a period of going through being depressed. The best thing I ever did was counselling. I’m now over that and doing better. I think that’s my coming-of-age thing you know, not so much just hitting a number, its more knowing how to sort myself out and those bands are about that.
Years ago, I fell in love with The Gaslight Anthem and The Replacements through The Gaslight Anthem, that kinda Americana vibe. Basically, if it’s punk kids who are trying to play rock and roll music it’s usually quite good. That’s my ja, that’s what I’m all about. It’s not too flash, it’s not too glitzy, it’s raw, I like that and it;s solid songs. That’s what I try and do. I think that kinda vibe and some of the older punk fans. I’ve always been a big fan of The Clash; I think they are one of the best UK bands from the 70s doing that kind of thing.
Are there any other non-musical influences?
It’s hard to tell, there’s a poet called John Cooper Clark. All his poems are like a million miles an hour, but they’re really funny. His word play is really good. I’ve always liked that it makes me think about lyrics a bit more. I don’t wanna do really obvious lyrics, so, someone like him, whose poems cover a lot of ground, you know they could be about really boring, mundane and obvious things, but he makes it funny and interesting.
I think people around you can be quite inspiring; I’d never tell them that. With the band its good, everyone’s so good at what they do it pushes me to be better at what I do. Probably also my favourite film, I can’t work out if it’s a stereotypical hipster thing, is High Fidelity. It’s one of those ones that’s a pop cult film, which means I should probably hate it, but I love it. It’s about this guy who runs a record store and is obsessed with music, but he goes through a breakup and he recounts his top 5 break ups over time. There’s a line in that film and it’s my favourite line in any film. “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” That’s kinda like me and music, I kind of need it to get me through places, is it a self-fulfilling thing?
There’s not much happening with festivals this year, but in 2022 what would your three dream festivals be to play as a band?
I mean it would be mad to play a festival wouldn’t it. Obviously, everyone would like to play Reading and Leeds, Download, 2000 Trees, they’re like the ones you want to go and do. There’s a part of me that would love to go and do Victorious Festival, which is a pompy one, it’s not really for our kinda music at all, but because it’s in our backyard that would be really cool. I don’t know how well it would go down… I don’t know how well they’re set up for anything miserable and punky. One we would love to play is in Slovenia, called Punk Rock Holiday, we’ve been once or twice to watch bands. Basically, you go to the middle of Slovenia in the mountains, then in the woods there’s a main stage and then by the river another stage – it’s genius. It’s the most picturesque place you’ve ever been, almost like Lord of The Rings… but a punk festival. You really feel at home there. We would probably never come home.
Any major plans for the rest of 2021?
We’ve got the EP coming out and we wanna try do some more recording towards the back end of the year. It’s one of those things, cos we can’t do as many gigs, we’ve got to keep releasing stuff to help keep the momentum going. Maybe put a couple singles out, stand-alone things, acoustic stuff. Gig wise, we’ve managed one this year. That was a success. It was at The Joiners in Southampton which is like this cool venue that loads of small and medium bands go and play. I think in the 90s it was referred to as part of the toilet circuit, basically all the little venues in the UK. We played there with our mates in a band called The Stay Awakes. It was really cool but bizarre. It was a seated gig and you’re there playing on stage and everyone’s sat there. For this year one gig is good going. We’re just really gonna wait and see how safe everyone feels. We’ve had conversations with a few places, smaller festival/gig type things happening later in the year… so the weather could be hilarious.
Have you discovered any new bands through the lockdowns that you really vibe with?
As a band we had this discussion the other day. We were talking about what we’ve been looking at in lockdown. A couple of the guys have almost gone backwards, so all their new favourites are old bands. One of them is stuck in the 60s, ones somewhere in the mid 70s. Mike the drummer just listens to the same four bands on repeat. If it’s not Jimmy Eat World, Blink-182, or Alkaline Trio, maybe Placebo… Mike doesn’t care. There are bands that have become new to me, so a band called Fiddler who I found, when they’re brought out Tony Hawk 2, they put new bands on it and Fiddler were one of those bands.
If someone has never listened to your music before, what song would you suggest for them to check out first?
I would say, a song on the EP, it’s not been a single, but it’s called No Ones The Saint That They…Want To Be. All the songs are a little bit different, but that’s the one that brings it together. It’s got a bit of everything. It’s got pace to it, but not too quick. A big chorus going on. Through the writing we released, we wrote a lot of songs that didn’t really have choruses til the end. The chorus is actually an anti-chorus. That song sums it up. It’s got all the elements of us.
Young Pretorians newest single, Desperation Party Scene, is out now. Just in time to get you even more excited for State Actors to release 23rd July. In the mean time you can check out everything else the band has to offer below, and you can also follow them on Twitter!