Seattle’s King Youngblood dive into their feverish and charged debut album ‘BIG THANK,’ a high-intensity alt-rock record burning with passion and purpose, spirited energy and stunning emotion.
Stream: “BIG THANK” – King Youngblood
“I‘m living in a thousand different songs beyond these walls,” King Youngblood’s Cameron Lavi-Jones sings toward the beginning of his band’s debut album. “Let the memories trickle down, let them all soak in…” It’s a moment of pause and subsequent drive; of reflection and recognition at the life Lavi-Jones and his band mates have already lived, of the journey they’re on together, and of the pure love they have for making music – particularly, energetic rock music. King Youngblood been steadily rising in the Pacific Northwest for some time, and now they’re ready to take the country and beyond by storm. Feverish and charged, their debut album BIG THANK is a high-intensity alt-rock record burning with passion and purpose, inviting listeners to think critically about our place in the world while shouting out loud with spirited energy and emotion.
You seem to have forgot your mind
And I’m sorry
It’s better off just left behind
Rusted by the passing time
Wasted on another mind
That I know
With the things you never said before
And I swear
That you wouldn’t know a sight from sore
– “BIG THANK,” King Youngblood
Released May 13, 2022 via DICE LAB / Beatroot LLC, BIG THANK is an unrelenting and untethered outpouring of cinematic, stadium-sized rock. It’s a dynamic show of force from King Youngblood, the four-piece of frontman Cameron Lavi-Jones, drummer Alix Daniel, cellist Chet Peterson, and bassist Hamoon Milaninia, who have very quickly made a name for themselves as harbingers – or at least, members of – an unbridled rock resurgence over the past few years. Their music is thoughtful, provocative, political, self-aware, socially conscious, uplifting, and inspiring – and BIG THANK is nothing, if not the perfect introduction.
“BIG THANK is an album centered around the personal experiences that make you grow into someone to be proud of,” Cameron Lavi-Jones tells Atwood Magazine. “So much of this record is a culmination of the people we became throughout our college years. We found our artistic identity through college house shows, succeeding despite marginalization, breakups, a whole ass international pandemic, and everything that happens in the messy rite of passage of becoming a better version of yourself.”
“Our vision going into this record was to be as personal as possible with our emotions and experiences as we were crafting our debut. At the beginning of writing BIG THANK, we focused on gathering the courage to double down on ourselves, but as time went on, the world shifted. I can’t say the pandemic was something we wrote about, but it absolutely impacted every aspect of our personal lives. I think it’s interesting to see how something so internationally impactful affected us on such an individual level, especially relating to how important people in our lives changed. How those bonds changed, how we viewed ourselves as a result of those changes, and most importantly, how those changes inferred our place in the world.”
The goal going into this album was to capture King Youngblood’s essence on record, and by all accounts, the band succeeded with flying colors. “BIG THANK is the most authentic representation of who we are,” they share. “We got a chance to try all types of new ideas that we rarely see in rock music, but absolutely resonate with the kind of art we make. From the articulation of our energy on stage, to sampling and chopping in songs, to the playful and direct vulnerability we carry as a band, to the intentionality of the stories we want to tell, BIG THANK is exactly the way King Youngblood wants to announce to the world that we are here and we ain’t going nowhere.”
They describe the album as unapologetic, open, and deliberate, with the title itself referencing their own relationship and the tight-knit identity of their band. “The phrase BIG THANK stemmed from the band saying thank you all the time to one another and it eventually evolved into “a tall order of thank you” then to “massive thanks to you” then eventually to BIG THANK,” Lavi-Jones laughs. “Even though it started mostly as a joke, it became a symbol, both of a playfully sarcastic roast of the folks who count us out and of the gratitude we share for each other on this journey.”
Crumpled up my brain like paper planes
That flew too East and burned up both their wings
What if they had flown through winds of change
Rather than the ash of yesterday
Maybe then they′d learn, to fly around
Or learn to miss the ground
It’s just so hard to tell right now
Come around again, too late too soon
Learning of the words, you said I knew
Hopefully, I′ve changed, but into who
Come around again, too late too soon
To use a tired but nonetheless accurate phrase, BIG THANK hits hard and leaves a mark.
From opening tracks “BIG THANK” and “A Thousand Songs” (referenced at the top of this article), to the explosive “THREAD,” the bluesy, stunningly contemplative, and emotionally charged “too late, too soon,” and the driving, uncompromisingly radiant “Home Is Only a House,” King Youngblood make this record a debut to remember – one rife with rousing guitar licks, searing hooks, and catchy chorus melodies that quickly transform into emphatic, energizing anthems. How many bands could make “I don’t want to hold back, so I cried in my cadillac?” the kind of phrase we want to scream at the top of our lungs? King Youngblood achieve this level of passion – in their music, and in their audience – with unparalleled ease. By the time the gut-wrenching, heart-on-sleeve finale “all in one room” fades out, listeners have been taken on an invigorating, eclectic, and electric journey of stirring highs and churning lows. King Youngblood leave us to sit in the comfort of our thoughts, with a renewed appreciation for the people in our lives and the depths one can reach just through introspection and observation.
“I can’t listen to ‘NEW TOMORROW’ without feeling like I am hearing and feeling my dreams come true, especially young Cam’s dreams,” Lavi-Jones says with a smile. “Little me was a massive System Of A Down fan. The political nature of their songwriting matched with the brutalism in the music has always been a massive inspiration of mine, and this tune feels like evidence.” As a lyricist, he cites his favorite line as “Holy shit, is that her car? (Fuck), I can tell ’cause it has all the stickers that I gave her when she got it… Now I’m scared of Subarus.“
Wherever you find favor on BIG THANK, there’s no denying the weight, the warmth, and the sheer wonder emanating off this incredible entrance.
They evoke the sounds of stadium rock legends from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Smashing Pumpkins and beyond, and yet there’s a certain charm and captivating energy to King Youngblood’s music that makes every one of their songs equally refreshing and inspiring.
“I hope our listeners feel seen,” Lavi-Jones shares. “My hope with BIG THANK is that it gives people the chance to reflect on their own moments of growth. I hope folks can see themselves in the commitment we have to being our authentic selves. I hope folks can be playfully nostalgic with the changes they’ve made in their life. I hope folks can ask themselves the difficult questions that have made us better people. Overall I hope when people hear BIG THANK, they can have a moment of pride in how far they’ve come, just like us.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside King Youngblood’s BIG THANK with Atwood Magazine as Cameron Lavi-Jones goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s debut album!
Stream: ‘BIG THANK’ – King Youngblood
:: Inside BIG THANK ::
A proper welcome to the unbridled rawness of King Youngblood! This album focuses so much on the growth and transition we experienced through our college years but this title track has such a long history, especially relating to our roots coming up in the UW (University of Washington) house party scene. House shows are how we cut our teeth and got a chance to see just how deeply folks resonate with the energy we put into our shows, so we said this has gotta be how we introduce ourselves with our debut album because as errybody know, first impressions count. So what better way to intro ourselves than showcasing exactly who we’ve always been, just some youngins that fell in love with getting loud with friends.
A Thousand Songs
I fucking love Eric Lilavois. He’s not only the producer extraordinaire of this album, the president of the godamn PNW Grammy chapter, our co-writer on this tune, but more importantly, he is absolutely a true champion of the Seattle music community. I have not once walked away from a session or just a conversation with him without feeling both seen as an artist and championed by a mentor. This song is a reflection on how beautifully challenging it is to chase the dream of rock stardom. We wanted to articulate a nostalgic appreciation of how far we’ve come, a proud acknowledgment of where we know we are headed, and an anchored commitment to seeing this through, no matter what.
THIS SONG SHOULD SERVE AS A WARNING. We try to be as unapologetic about being ourselves as possible and a massive component of being unapologetic is being ruthless about taking up space- especially spaces that we’ve been made to feel othered in. THREAD is an anthem for outsiders like us. There aren’t a lot of folks that look like us in the rock world, so THREAD is to remind outsiders that we belong in any of the spaces we may have felt pushed out from, but to fucking mosh our way to the front.
too late, too soon
During the summer of 2020, Seattle was predominantly in the news for the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). With the active demonstrations happening, along with the overlay of COVID still very much making public gatherings a health hazard, it was the first time for many people to ask themselves some very difficult questions. We didn’t have the distractions of work, friends, or family, and for the first time across the country, we had to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask if we were enough. too late, too soon is an attempt to answer that question.
cried in my cadillac
Have you ever had a panic attack in your car from seeing someone that on sight made your anxiety so bad that you almost crashed so you pulled over on the side of the road to get a good cry out?
yeah me too.
Fun fact: in this song, we got a chance to sample a clip from our favorite house show venue in UW for the bridge. Shout out to all 600 of the homies that always pack out when we play The Nook.
Home Is Only a House
Relationships are like buying a house with someone. You pick out what house has the ideal location, you share memories in that house, make dinner in its kitchen, paint the walls colors that make both of you happy, and you make the house into something much more than four walls and a roof. Those memories and experiences that you create and share are what gives the house its significance. But what happens when after all that investment someone wants to move out? What happens to the house turned home and what happens with the memories left in it? You’re left with lessons. Lessons surrounding the kind of house you want to build next time and the kind of home you deserve to live in.
god i am exhausted
After all those life lessons, you move out of the house and shit kinda sucks. You’re back out in the world alone left to navigate tiring emotional work, including the wonderful new anxiety of taking terrifyingly ultra-cautious peeks at every Subaru Forrester you pass (which in Seattle is A LOT), just to see if it’s your ex’s car and hope to avoid at all costs. god i am exhausted is a breakup bop; a soundtrack for the times when the only way to not cry is to stress clean your room.
NEW TOMORROW is a return to the throne, a return to the cutthroat yet inclusive energy echoed in the hook, “Why the fuck you hesitating? Get up out my way or come on.” You can only be counted out so many times, be doubted so many times, and proven yourself worthy time and time again before you begin to become frustrated with having to convince anyone to see your light. At the end of the day, regardless of who does or doesn’t uphold your light, holding onto the goal to be who you know you are what will push you through any rite of passage. NEW TOMORROW is an abrasive and harmonic documentation of the audacity you have to carry to see your ambitions become reality.
This moment was captured right before I went into the booth to record the vocals for the bonus track. I had a moment with my brother and co-engineer, Angel Cotto, just talking about falling in love again, both with a new person and with the person I’ve been becoming. 11/15/2019 is the day I asked her to be my girlfriend and was the inspiration for the first real love song I’ve ever written.
all in one room
It’s still difficult for me to play or listen to this song honestly. Me and the person I wrote this song about had a beautiful, powerful, and healthy relationship that ended about two months before the album dropped. It’s hard for me not to think of her when I play those chords. She was my first real and true love and our relationship was lowkey the first one that didn’t end in emotional damage but rather ended how our relationship was; with nothing but respect and love for one another as people. It’s been a powerful exercise now in remembering that King Youngblood’s music is not just for me, but for the people who need it. When folks talk to me after listening to the song, either live or off the record, they talk about how it reminds them of their first true loves too and that means so much to me. To articulate through a song how someone I loved made me feel and then to be able to give that to anyone who hears it is a gift I am lucky to have. And even though this person and I aren’t together anymore, I am still beyond grateful that I got a chance to experience how healthy relationships are supposed to be and in turn, I get a chance to see how the light she gave me shines on to others through all in one room.
Stream: ‘BIG THANK’ – King Youngblood
— — — —
📸 © Caean Couto
:: Stream King Youngblood ::