Lightyear are one of the most entertaining bands you will ever see. Tirelessly hardworking and endlessly hyperactive this is a band who’s only purpose in life is to have fun. With most of the members living with their parents the lack of financial constraints means less time for unimportant, trivial things like jobs and rational thought and more time to have a laugh, drink beer and act in a brilliantly foolish manner onstage. “We all had permanent jobs”, grins LY trumpeter Bill. “But we quit them to be in the band. It’s an easy life!” No prizes for guessing the style of music here then, for Lightyear play the kind of fast, up-beat, skankworthy toons that slap a big grin on your face, get you groovin’ and generally make you feel like an immature, giddy little kid again! Excellent!
“Have you heard of Anal Beard?” Bill asks outside the cloakroom in The Garage, London prior to an enviable support slot with sexy ska-core sextet Save Ferris. “We played with them at the Uxfest and they remind me so much of how Lightyear used to sound – like a fuckin’ comedy”, he says by way of explaining Lightyear’s early days. “It’s just like some really random talking and singing kinda stuff with ridiculous lyrics and just like, I dunno, stupid music behind it. Have you seen Anal Beard or heard of ‘em?” (looks at LY guitarist Noel.) Noel: “I’m not sure. I’ve heard of a band called Dangleberries!”
Bill: “Ah, I’ve not heard of them but they sound good!” (laughs)
Despite all this tomfoolery Lightyear are incredibly hard-working. Chances are that if you’ve been to see one of the many US ska-punk bands that’ve made their way over here in the past year then you’ll have seen Lightyear slogging it out as support. Bands such as Mustard Plug, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger and Save Ferris have all had the pleasure of Lightyear’s company on tour. “It’s all good you know,” agrees Bill. “Coz you always get mentioned like, Goldfinger blah, blah, blah; Lightyear support.“
What’s your opinion on the current state of UK ska? I see you’re wearing a Capdown shirt.
”UK SKA?!” he says in much the same way I pronounce the word METAL! “Well, if Capdown are UK ska then that’s fucking brilliant mate!”
Do you agree that Lightyear and Capdown are spearheading a new resurgence in ska and ska-punk?
Bill: “Well Capdown are really, really creative. They’re like Moses spreading the seas. I mean, not to name-drop bands on Household Name but 5 Knuckle – the last time I saw them they were fucking brilliant. I’d like to name 10-15 bands but I can’t think of that many who are really, really good to be perfectly honest with you. I mean, we played with Jesse James (tonight’s support band, on Deck Cheese) once and I thought they were pretty cool but I wouldn’t call them ‘ska’ or anything. There’s Shootin’ Goon from Wales but they haven’t done much because their singer lives in London. But erm… what was the question again? I think the scene, in terms of people being into it and coming to the shows is really good, but in terms of the bands there isn’t that many that I could say really impress me.”
However, those bands that do tickle Lightyear’s fancy can influence their music immensely. “I guess if you look at songs that we’ve written,” says Bill. “If you looked a month prior to writing the songs you’ll see a band that we’ve played with in the song that we’ve just written. Like we played some shows with Link 80 and then a couple of songs came out that sounded a bit like that. We weren’t copying them or anything! (laughs)We played with Slow Gherkin a lot and we had a couple of songs with that edge. I don’t know, sometimes you can’t tell who influences you, it just happens. But I’d definitely say Propagandhi. They’re one of my favourites and also one of the most important bands to me. I think it’s fucking phenomenal what they do and what they say.”
Noel: “Operation Ivy are big influences as well.”
What one thing unites all the members of the band?
Noel: “I think it’s porn”. Apart from the obvious.
Bill: “Well, I know something that unites seven of us, because our bass player, you won’t understand this or anything but you probably know someone like him. But the one guy, he’s like a stress ball. It's like, you can shout so much abuse at him and take the piss out of him so much that he’ll take it all and absorb it all in. Barrs, our bass player, unites all of us I think. He’s the pinnacle. If you’re on tour in a van for three weeks it can get stressful, but he can just turn around and you can laugh at him and it’s brilliant again."
What’s the best thing since sliced bread? Noel: “Monique” (vocalist, Save Ferris). Bill: “Um… taking your clothes off is quite good. I mean, nudity does equal unity doesn’t it?" (laughs)
Tell me a funny touring experience.
Bill: “Funny touring experience? Bloody hell. Erm… well there was one night – it’s actually been sampled on our latest album – where er, we were all sat in this room and a couple of us decide to take our clothes off, whatever. And erm, we start drinking some piss…”
As you do.
"And then er, you know the band One Car Pile-Up from Scunthorpe? Well, we were in their drummer and guitarist’s house and it ended up with me lying down on the floor of the kitchen with Chaz, our singer, crouched over me doing a shit in my mouth! That was quite funny.”
That would be something I’d be reluctant to admit in an interview. Maybe it’s just me.
“It’s quite a memorable experience. He couldn’t actually force it out that much but he managed to get a little bit and just like, smear it on my teeth.”
What did it taste like?
Bill: "Disgusting! You know how shit smells yeah? It tastes a million times worse. It was stuck in my teeth and I was going ‘I can’t get it off!’ (laughs) Ah, that was quite funny.”
Well, what will their Mum’s say eh? You can catch Lightyear headlining their own tour during April but if you can’t wait that long you can see them supporting Save Ferris again on their short UK tour in early March. Quite an extraordinary band I’m sure you agree.