Youth Model’s “Symmetry” is a melodically upbeat rock song that is as catchy as it is chilling. “Symmetry” evokes a dream collaboration between Ric Ocasek’s winning pop sensibilities and Thom Yorke sci-fi paranoiac lyricism. Singer Matt Holmes’ lyrics weave a glitched-up postmodern narrative about fear and singularity. When the bridge lights up with Holmes’ fugue state malfunction of “I’m finding it all myself, / I’m fighting it off myself” the song is crystalized before re-spawning with its eerily metronomic chorus. Youth Model’s drummer Randy Borawski joined me for a chat about the song, co-writing, and the spirit of Charleston.
You can pick up a copy of Symmetry here.
SC: I love how the song’s bright music creates a tension between the lyrics. Can you tell me about this choice?
Matt and I are big fans of 90's rock: Toadies, Smashing Pumpkins, Del Amitri, and Toad The Wet Sprocket and of course the Big Three from Seattle: Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden. That's where our reference point lies, but we continue to evolve our tastes as newer acts have come on the scene. Well, newer than the aforementioned, bands, like Wilco, Kings of Leon, The Strokes and Spoon. For the drum sound, we're referencing Nirvana's In Utero. I think the drum sound is a bit more slick than that record, but still has that big and loud feel. As far as the tension between the lyrics goes, Matt explains that all he can write are sad songs. Even if they appear to be musically upbeat, chances are the subject matter of the lyrics is dark and dreary.
SC: At the end of the second verse Matt sings “So we'll go without sleep / while they're sharpening their teeth / watch as we slip right by / don't pay no mind anyway.” Can you tell me a little about these lyrics?
RB: Symmetry as a whole is is basically about not letting fear and trepidation pull you away from having close relationships with people, whether that be your spouse, girlfriend or friends even when things get messy. We all know relating to people can be a challenge sometimes. As far as the exact meaning of these particular lyrics, we leave the interpretations up to the listener.
SC: Tell me about writing “Symmetry”.
RB: Matt is the main songwriter in Youth Model. Once he's written a tune, he'll send us fully realized demos with him playing drums, singing, playing guitar, bass and/or keys. Then, I take the idea or direction of the drum parts on the demo and make it my own. Ben, our guitarist, then adds in his parts. Once we get in the studio together with our producer, we make final arrangement decisions, doubling choruses here, changing intros, outros and bridges there, etc.
SC: Can you tell me about the band's writing process? Do you write daily or wait for inspiration?
RB: Matt writes when the time allows and inspiration hits him. He has said that he writes his songs around the chorus, and there is a main theme in a song, but the lyrics are open to interpretation. He tends to write in stream of consciousness mode.
SC: How does your community of songwriters inspire you?
RB: I think the spirit of the Charleston music scene as a whole inspires us to write and perform live at a high level. Even though the days are gone of million dollar record deals, we want to make the best music we think our band can make as we continue grow as musicians.
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