"Our council shut down a bunch of our venues because they are spineless money-grabbing bastards who hate music."
Aberdeen-based Cold Years are a band with a lot to say. Following a myriad of EP and single releases, debut album Paradise was released on the 4th of September.
Paradise is a powerful debut. Cold Years tackle an array of challenging but poignant topics, from growing up in a small town to dismantling troubling local political ideologies. With thunderous guitar-hooks and killer vocals, it’s a brutally honest depiction of life in a small, grey town in Scotland and all the problematic elements that accompany it.
There is a strong lyrical, almost poetic, voice throughout: this might be their debut, but Cold Years feel strongly established in their identity. This is most poignantly conveyed through the lyricism on ’62 (My Generation’s Falling Apart)’: “I don’t miss the feeling of being twenty-five / cigarettes and caffeine, a diet of certain probability / and everything our parents built up falls down.” Simple yet unsparing, the lyricism throughout Paradise almost takes ownership of being from a shitty town. There’s an intensely relatable element of “it’s shit, but it’s ours” to it.
From the energetic guitar-hooks of ‘Breathe’ to the soft piano work on ‘The Waits’, this album champions sonic diversity. Inspired by an array of artists: from hardcore to rock and roll, there’s a hint of Led Zeppelin and a dash of Neck Deep, but with a uniquely modern, Cold Years twist.
FUZZY caught up with Ross ahead of the release of Paradise.
FUZZY: Paradise is out on Friday. Congrats! Could you tell me a little bit about it?
It's our debut album! It covers a wide variety of subject matter, from growing up in a small town and the struggle that brings, to wanting to escape a life you don't want, and a bunch of political commentary. We are not happy with the way things are in our country or the world as a whole right now and we wanted to express that. We tracked it at The Ranch with Neil Kennedy in Southampton, and it was an incredible experience. We are all so proud of this record!
FUZZY: You're from Aberdeen, which you've described as "horrible and grey." How does Scotland influence your music? Do these sentiments manifest on the album at all?
The weather has an impact! I guess it's more the aesthetic. Where we are from, the towns are small and small-minded. I think I grew a lot resentment over the past few years over where I'm from. Obviously, it's my home, but I write a lot about wanting to get out.
FUZZY: What's the music scene like in Aberdeen?
Our council shut down a bunch of our venues because they are spineless money-grabbing bastards who hate music. There's some great talent here - check out Nicky Aiken and the Temple Sons, Gerry Jablonski and the electric band, Dude Trips are just a few. But we are all running out of places to play.
FUZZY: On tracks like '62 (My Generation's Falling Apart)', you hint at the injustices faced by your generation. Could you elaborate? How does social injustice manifest in your music?
We are the bankrupt generation. The boomers wrecked it for us. The people who voted for Brexit wrecked it for us. Our country is full of narrow-minded racists. If you voted for Brexit, that's what you are. But thankfully there are people who don't follow that narrative. There's still hope. The rich-poor divide is an embarrassment. We all need to do better as human beings, show some compassion, and be decent people. I feel like we had to say something, as artists, it's our responsibility. I don't want to sing about Facebook.
FUZZY: Elements of your music use fairly heavy guitar riffs. What are your main musical influences?
We all have vastly different influences but meet on common ground. Louis grew up on 50s rock and roll, Fraser loves hardcore, Finlay loves Dire Straits and a bunch of classic rock. I grew up on blues, then fell in love with punk rock when I was old enough to understand what it was.
FUZZY: If you had to pick three albums to take with you to an island, Desert Island Disc style, what would those three albums be and why?
Green Day - Dookie - First record I ever bought with my own money. It's a timeless album and made me want to write my own songs.
Dire Straits - Communique - One of the earliest memories I have is playing pool with my dad on a Friday night at four/five years old listening to this record
Led Zeppelin 4 - I don't think this needs any explanation!
FUZZY: Finally: what does the future of Cold Years look like? What's the biggest thing you'd want to achieve?
We want to be a massive band. Anyone that plays music and tells you otherwise is lying. I want to release more records, play more shows, see the world, meet new people, and have a great time doing it.
Paradise is out now.
Words by Eleanor Noyce.
4th September 2020.