EXCLUSIVE – Y&T Interview

New Yorkers Y&T celebrated their 35th anniversary last year but with a new album under their belts, a Download 2010 berth booked and their first full US headline tour since the 1980s ready to roll these are heady times for the hard rockers.

In the week that the excellent Facemelter (Frontiers Records) hits stores we catch up with the legendary Dave Meniketti and hear all about his band’s very special relationship with the UK 26 years after their landmark appearance at Monsters Of Rock 1984.

rushonrock: Facemelter is a brilliant example of a band back to its best but what persuaded you to get back into the recording studio 13 years after Endangered Species?

Dave Meniketti: For the last couple of years we’ve been talking seriously about doing a new record and even before that people were asking us when it would happen. I knew that we were going to get down to it at some point but it wasn’t until the end of 2008 that we thought it was time to get to it! When we first got back playing in 2003 it was just a case of finding our feet again with the old songs. But once we’d cranked it up again we thought it was high time we did a new album. It was still a far-off thought until 2008 and we were fairly happy just doing our own thing and running through the back catalogue. But right now I’m really glad we made the decision to press ahead with Facemelter. It’s a record I’m very proud of.

rushonrock: What was the thinking behind releasing the new album in 2010?

DM: We needed to do the new album for ourselves as well as for our fans. We needed a target and a fresh focus and that record’s already done a lot for us. As a band our attitudes have changed and we’re all in a very positive mood right now. It stems from when we started doing Facemelter and people would come to rehearsals and work their socks off and there was a really positive vibe. It’s a beautiful thing when things come together like they did for this record and, in the end, the whole process was very easy.

rushonrock: Was it easy slipping back into the songwriting groove?

DM: Myself and Phil have always been the prime songwriters and before we made the decision to do another record there was a little bit of reluctance on both sides. But as soon as we started writing again everything fell right back into place and it felt perfect. The first thing we wrote was I’m Coming Home and that set the tone for what is, essentially, a comeback album. Evidently it’s as good a time as any to make a new record if hard rock is your bag. Facemelter has been very well received and we’re delighted about that.

rushonrock: What does the immediate future hold for Y&T?

DM: Our plans after Download are simple really – there will be touring followed by touring followed by touring. We’ve got the festival season with Sweden Rock and Hellfest as well as Download but it’s a fairly quick run of shows in the summer. After that we head home for our first full US headline tour since the 80s. We’ve done spots here and there and the odd weekend since we got back together but nothing on this scale. It’s a full bus trek over six weeks and we can’t wait – it’s going to be something different for us at this stage of our careers. Then we come back to the UK and Europe for seven weeks of headline shows. It’s a very exciting time.

rushonrock: Can you believe Y&T are back in the big time?

DM: Ten years ago I would have found it particularly difficult to believe if anyone had told me we’d be at this level now. It’s not that I didn’t want it to happen but the prospects were extremely slim. Our manager at the time had really dropped the ball and I was more interested in developing my blues rock.

rushonrock: Can you explain your popularity on this side of the Pond?

DM: The connection with UK audiences started way back in the early 80s. We came over on the back of the Black Tiger record in 1982 and even then we realised there was a connection with British fans and we took a great deal of time developing the relationship. I remember meeting a lot of UK fans and people from record companies who felt we would be popular there. And back then you were really appreciated and gained greater respect if you hit the road in Britain and did it like the old days, building up a fan base and proving your credentials as a live band. It was so much easier for a lot of US bands to stay home or start somewhere else and treat the UK as an afterthought. We never did that. We were a hard rock band and we knew where we had to make our mark.

rushonrock: Why are you back in such a big way now?

DM: Until 2003 we hadn’t been back to the UK since 1985. But we got a chance to play with Whitesnake and Gary Moore on the Monsters Of Rock Arena tour seven years ago and even though we were on early as the opening act it was clear there were still a lot of people out there who wanted to hear Y&T. But it wasn’t until two years later and a change of management that we decided to really go for it again in the UK. I’m so glad we did.

I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.

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