After trading the desert for Portland and the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, Benjamin Blake’s music grew into a denser, heavier sound.
Young Hunter, the brooding psych-metal band Blake founded in Tucson in 2011, returns to town Friday, April 8 with a new album
, a new lineup and a sound that’s not too far removed from the band’s debut, Stone Tools
, but with added layers.
“Your surroundings really affect what you play and what comes through,” Blake says. “In Tucson, the desert was such a huge presence in Young Hunter. That’s kind of what inspired the whole project. I felt like the land was coming through me in a way. Moving to the Northwest, I really connected to this place. It’s definitely there, but there are less tropes to pull on to create a ‘foresty’ sound. You can evoke the desert more easily with the musical language.”
After moving to Portland from Tucson, Blake sought to continue Young Hunter, recruiting a new lineup to flesh out his songs. First to join was bassist Sam Dean, who Blake knew from Tucson. Within six months, Blake had rounded out Young Hunter with Grant Pierce on drums, Sara Pinnell on vocals and keys and Erik Wells on guitar.
“I just feel really lucky it all fell into place as swiftly as it did,” Blake says. “We’re still exploring how we write music together. When we started out, it was more the way I did Young Hunter in Tucson where I would write all the parts, more or less. As we’ve been playing together, we’ve gotten to a place where I’ll just bring a small piece of a song and we’ll spend maybe six months working on it.”
The band is a continuation of the version of Young Hunter that Blake began with, but it is now a project with its own distinct identity built on the greater contributions from all its members. So when it came time to give a name to the band’s new record—released March 20 in time for the band’s spring tour down the West Coast—the name Young Hunter
felt most appropriate.
“I felt like the band had come into its own in a new way. It’s a new understanding of what that means and what our vision is,” he says.
Similar to the songs Young Hunter recorded in Tucson for Stone Tools
and Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain
and Children of a Hungry World,
the new record is full of long songs (the shortest is 6:55) that build dramatically and capitalize on dynamic shifts. The songs on the self-titled release take lyrics from a dream and a psychedelic experience, but Blake also touches on politics and the state of man versus. nature.
“It’s always my intention to talk about real stuff when I’m writing. One of the reasons I started Young Hunter is because I felt heavy music is maybe the most apt vehicle to explore what’s going on in the world now, what humans are doing on the planet and what it all means,” Blake says.
Young Hunter performs Friday, April 8 in a free show at Club Congress. Doors open at 8 p.m., with Night Collectors and Ohioan opening. For more information, visit hotelcongress.com