Here’s why ‘Weird!’ feels like YUNGBLUD’s debut album
Without ever even trying, Dominic Harrison, the creative leader of YUNGBLUD, has become an icon by promoting and amplifying the voices of a largely marginalized generation. Despite multiple massive collaborations with the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, Bert McCracken and Bring Me The Horizon this year, Harrison has smothered himself in a blanket of raw creativity. The release of his sophomore album, Weird!, represents the culmination of everything Harrison has wanted to say to the world. But the best part? Harrison’s uncompromising energy and ability to scream loud enough offstage as he does onstage is guaranteed to make the whole world listen to him—at least all in due time.
Here’s the thing about Weird!: It feels like the culmination of everything that you’ve been wanting to say, and it’s expressed in the greatest way you could have made your voice be heard. Did you feel that while you were writing?
You absolutely just smashed the whole meaning of this album out of the park. That makes me so fucking happy that you’d say that because there’s so much agenda nowadays, and I just wanted to tell the fucking truth. But I wanted to tell the truth from the point of crimes in the community, not hiding behind a diary of angry insecurity. And talking about the people I’ve met from every continent, every show that we cover and sexuality, and I wanted to create an album that’s just about the weirdest years of our lives in terms of agenda, sexuality and gender.
The album is so emotional because my fanbase and my community make me feel like I can put my heart out there. Because if someone stabs it, they’re going to stitch it back up. I was so angry and frustrated, and this album feels like my debut almost. The first record was like a fucking mixtape. It was like, “Is there anybody out there like me?” I released it, and I had 50,000 followers on Instagram and [a spot on] Warped Tour. This album feels like everything I wanted to say on this fucking planet. It resembles every emotion I’ve ever felt.
Did you feel like the writing and recording of your sophomore album was more liberating than your debut?
Yes. The reaction to my debut was liberating [and] the realization that there were people out there like me, but this record was so special to me because, again, I got to talk about how I feel. I got to open my fucking soul, and I know it’s going to connect to [the fans] because it’s about them. The songs are stories I’ve heard. “mars” is about a young trans girl I met in Maryland who told me a story. She had on green lipstick and a green matching duffle coat, and I remember it. And she told me the story that her parents couldn’t understand that she wasn’t a boy. She was a girl and always had been a girl, and they thought it was a phase. They didn’t understand that she was born into the wrong body. She told me she wanted to take her parents to a YUNGBLUD show because the community that we were building would make them see that there were other kids like her and other people like her.
To cut a long story short, she came to the show with her parents, and her parents saw the passion, the community and the simple reluctance to be anything other than what you are. They fucking took her out and said, “We get it. We’re sorry, and we apologize. We’re going to help you through [this] transition.” A story like that is what this album means. YUNGBLUD isn’t me—it’s always ours, and it makes me so proud to belong to a community. You can uplift people like that and change people’s perceptions and make people accept their fucking children.
The album was originally slated to be released in November, and it was pushed back, but I actually think that the album is coming at a very revolutionary time in the world, politically, socially, the awareness that everyone is so in tune with now. Do you think that delaying it has had a positive effect on the release?
I think it has. I was so sad and anxious to let my fanbase down because I had to push it back, but with the pandemic and the kinds of vinyl houses that said we might not be able to get it done. This has gotten bigger than I ever fucking expected. I’m talking about shipping to Argentina and shipping to China, shipping to Australia. What the fuck? This whole idea of some places maybe might not get the stuff when they're supposed to didn’t fly with me. This fanbase and this community is my blood and my heart. And if I tell them something’s going to be there, it’s got to be there.
At the beginning of the pandemic, you were one of the very first people to do a livestream, but now you’re doing something really big. You are creating a massive production with the Weird Time Of Life tour. As someone who’s so connected with their fans, how do you plan to utilize that digital platform to further that connection and to push through this tour?
We did one show at the fucking start of it. I know people are doing one big livestream show because it’s the thing to do right now. I was like, “Yeah, we could do that, but we’ve done that.” I don’t want to do the same shit twice. So I was like, “How can we make a tour? How can we make stories in each city?” One of my favorite things about touring is that the community is the same, but the cultures are different. There are different stories and different feelings from every set. So I was like, “Let’s do 16 shows and each individual setting with the same seven songs, but let’s mix them up, bandage them together and do different things and add different things. Let’s allow people to come to London virtually.”
Aside from the setlist, do you have any plans to make each show really different and unique? Either with the setup or how you’re going to connect your fans with you and with each other?
It’s a punk-rock show. It’s live rock. I’m not going to make a glorified music video and play the same show for 17 countries. We did a full 30-minute show in each country. Flaws and flat notes and all. That’s my favorite thing about a live show. Jack White said that in each show, he had three steps to get from his guitar to his Whirly in time. So he put his Whirly four steps away. Because he loves the imperfection. That’s what I’m like. I’m very similar. We just wanted to do some punk-rock live shows that have different flaws and are real and truthful because that’s just the way we’ve done it.
You can read the full YUNGBLUD interview in issue 388, available here.