Stephen Young and the Union Soar with American Debut, “Eagle Rock Rumble”
“I grew up listening to a real eclectic bunch of music,” says singer-songwriter Stephen Young, offering insight into the origins of his love for Americana, spawned while growing up in Dublin Ireland.
“Elvis was pretty big in my house,” he continues. “I remember my step-dad teaching me the words to ‘All Shook Up’ when I was about four. He used to listen to a lot of Bowie and Billy Joel too. It wasn’t all ‘cool’ though, there was some really bad ’80s stuff around like ‘Lady in Red’ and stuff like that, going on the record player. My uncle gave me an unbranded guitar when I was about 12. It was his and I only had it on loan, really. I went to one guitar lesson where they taught us ‘American Pie.’ I hated the guitar lesson and never went back, but I loved that song and I learned it off in a week.”
While bands like Oasis, Nirvana, and Blur were huge at the time, it wasn’t until Young discovered the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones that he really knew the direction in which he wanted to travel.
“That journey of discovery led me down all sorts of different paths,” he recalls. “Listening to Dylan and the Stones, I found blues and delved into that in a big way. Country music and folk came next. I was very much into the older recordings and artists like Hank Williams, Sonny Terry, Howlin’ Wolf, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie.”
Those influences are imbued in Eagle Fort Rumble, Young’s sophomore set and the album that will soon introduce he and his band, the Union, to American audiences. However, it’s the imprint of Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, and Wilco that remains most apparent on the eleven-song set. Young strikes a tough, tenacious attitude that depicts he and the Union to be a band, as the title suggests, ready to rumble.
“This album is very different thematically to what I did on my debut, Wilderness Machine,” Young explains. “On the last set, everything was quite personal. Although I kinda put a spin on it, that it was a ‘character’ on the album … it was all a concept-type thing. This time round, I tried to take myself a little less seriously. I think there’s still large dollops of truth on the album, just not the whole truth. I didn’t want to give as much of myself away again. … What kind of ties it all in is the uniform sound we were trying to achieve.”
All in all, Young says he was pleased with the results. “It was a long and hard process, but we achieved pretty much exactly what I wanted.
“When I got there,” he explains, “I was like ‘Yeah, that’s what I was hearing in my head when I wrote it’. I feel I’m finally at a pretty good place with regards to how my work sounds. Looking down the line my aspirations are to put out a good body of work and to just keep improving. I don’t think I can go and write the perfect album, but my ambition or my aspiration is try do that.”