Paving a path out of the underground is a difficult achievement to attain. With new domains cropping up across the internet, discovering new music has become an easier task than ever before while simultaneously making the life of an artist all the more challenging; the expansion of the game has caused ‘making it’ to be a distant goal. Adding in the unfortunate circumstances of the past calendar year, the performance sector has certainly had to struggle to get their voices heard. Out of this scene emerged the triumphant debut of German collective Yon. In the midst of a typically slow January, the intrepid quintet quietly introduced their first full length — an effort five years in the making — to whatever audience was lurking around the darker corners of bandcamp. Considering how silent the first month of the year tends to be, as well as the obscure status of the group themselves, a release this powerful and professional was incredibly unexpected at such an early time. It packed emotion, grit, and musicianship into a potent 37-minute package, encapsulating the spirit of a youthful crew.
Desiring to learn more about exactly what Yon is and their mindset behind Order of Violence, I reached out to see if they’d be willing to answer a handful of questions. During a celebratory Zoom call for their latest CD, the German gents collectively responded to a series of inquiries to help paint a better picture. The following is the conversation I had between the members and the resulting story of a disc that took longer than anticipated, though came about in an organic way that permitted concepts to bloom. –MarsKid
(Mitch / MarsKid): First, I’m glad you’ve taken the time to answer a few questions with me. I know you said this was when you were celebrating your recent album release, so I appreciate that you’d entertain a handful of inquiries. This record seemed to come out of nowhere and was immediately intriguing to me; being able to pick your brains a bit is a great opportunity. To start off with, I’m curious about the background for Order of Violence. The last full work you had presented was an EP back in 2015. What caused the recording process for your debut to encounter that sort of prolonged pause between releases?
Yon: When we started out, we all lived in Dresden, Germany. After the release of the last EP we had a change in our lineup and one after another moved to different cities. Actually, none of us lives in Dresden anymore. This, of course, slowed down the writing process and we also wanted to write a more complete record. The added complexity in writing, the geographical distance between us and the adult live stuff that started to kick in resulted in a 5-year process. We also recorded and mixed the whole thing ourselves. We sure wished to be faster though.
That makes sense. Sometimes, circumstances make it difficult for an album cycle to go about exactly as hoped. Related to the change in writing and lineup, I think it’s fair to say that, from then to now, Order of Violence sounds like a much different beast in comparison to the EPs. It definitely feels like your sound shifted in the interval between discs. What inspired you to make these changes?
There wasn’t so much an inspiring moment, but a general feeling that we wanted to write faster and heavier songs. With the change in lineup on bass and main vocals, we also had the opportunity to write and perform more challenging — for us, at least — and faster music. Due to us living in different cities, songwriting mostly was done with software and not so much us being in the same room jamming, which allowed us to create more detailed ideas.
That’s something that happens a lot these days, I feel: artists living away from each other, sometimes cross–continental, coming together and making an album. You said you were able to really flesh out ideas, and I can definitely get the sense that each track really explored the different possibilities of an emotional payoff. With the separated status of band members, what did the songwriting process end up looking like? What do you think helped the most to make the songs so cohesive?
A couple of songs were created in the rehearsal room, some at the end in the recording sessions. All other songs have been written by one guitarist with the rest of the band adding the final touches. There are also a lot of sketches and ideas we didn’t end up using or progress with. Some of them are actually released on bandcamp as Doom over Dresden: Demos 2013-2019.
Sounds like there was a lot of great material going around then. What do you think you ended up being most proud of creating? What track stands out?
“Confronted by the Deity” is definitely up there; we feel it encapsulates what Yon has been over its existence. We also wrote that one together in the rehearsal room and it took us almost a year to finish.
It definitely is the most epic of the bunch, being the longest track to appear on the disc. While I am an Englishman, I’d also say that the lyrics for the album, as far as I could understand them, are very effective and complement the mood of the album perfectly. What helped to influence that aspect of the writing? And related to that, what led to the combination of both German and English lyrics?
The lyrics have been written by different band members, and some feel more at home in English and others more in the German language. The biggest influence for the writing would be the book Lord of the Flies being the concept of the whole record. We took that as a basis to form characters, situations, conflicts and emotions to feed into both the music and the lyrics. We know about the language barrier and it is definitely something we discussed a lot. So we are actually thinking about translating the German lyrics to English on our bandcamp page so that everybody can read them.
That’s awesome! I was unaware it was a concept record. That’s definitely an ambitious first step to take. Coming out of the underground though can certainly put stress on a group, as it’s typically harder to get noticed. What has assisted Yon in staying together this whole time?
It’s actually not so much a concept record in a strict sense, rather than a framing device for us during the writing process. The themes in the book resonated with us a lot. But we sure hope that the record completely works without having any knowledge about that. Regarding the assistance, it’s not much more than the fact that we’ve known each other for years and are just very good friends. We definitely had our rough patches through the years — especially during the making of this record — but being friends for so long really helps. And we just really love to hang out together and have a good time.
Seems like this has been a pretty long running project then. How long has Yon been together for? When did it all start?
Both guitarists have been trying to form a band for a long time, jamming on and off with various people, but it never really clicked. In early 2013 we finally founded Yon.
What you’ve been able to accomplish thus far is impressive. In general, what bands do you think have been the most important to the group’s development?
We don’t really have one specific band that influences us. Every one of us listens to so many different genres; we don’t even think that we write ‘screamo’ music. Of course the DIY scene in general has been a big influence for us, but we don’t really want to limit ourselves to one specific genre.
Definitely helps to keep things open for new ideas. With regards to other groups, though, what fellow locals acts or other German bands do you think are getting slept on? Who should people be paying more attention to?
Definitely Julith Krishun from Dresden. They disbanded many, many years ago, but they are still amongst our all time favorites. Their unbound chaotic energy is something that you don’t find all day. Some bands you also should check out are Choir Boys from Dresden, Miami Death II from Leipzig, Pigeon from Berlin and Deathrite, who are also from Dresden.
Sounds like I’ve got some research to do! Awesome to see Dresden represented so well. Just to wrap up, I know it’s no surprise at this point to observe that we live in some pretty different times compared to normal. With the current state of the world, where do you think the band goes moving forward from your debut?
[The coronavirus pandemic] definitely had an impact on us as a band. We actually wanted to release the record last year alongside a release tour, but of course that wasn’t possible. We do hope to go on a release tour later this or next year, depending on the further development of the whole situation. As far as near future steps for the band, we actually don’t know yet. Living in different cities all over the country makes it hard to consistently write music we are satisfied with. So we were Yon until now. What comes next? We will see.
Completely understandable. I certainly wish for the best in your future endeavors, as what you have demonstrated is very enticing. Any further shoutouts/mentions you’d like to give?
Shoutouts would go to all the bands and friends we love and toured with, ISWH, Drych, Chevin, Jaguwar, Elmar, Zaga Zaga from Tel-Aviv, Two Seas from Singapore — all bands you should check out, too — and also Silvio Sunshine and everybody who supported us in any way during this long long time. We are eternally grateful.
Well I hope things remain optimistic for Yon. Once again, I appreciate you taking some time out of your day to answer a few questions. Enjoy the album release! It’s a very fine debut that’s worthy of praise.
Thank you very much; we also enjoyed the experience.