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Interview: Young Gun Silver Fox

For those who miss the smooth AOR greats like Bread, George Benson and the Doobie Brothers, sorcerers of smooth music Young Gun Silver Fox (AKA London vocalist Andy Platts and LA producer Shawn Lee) are an essential ray of West Coast sunshine.  

The musical virtuosity of the Eagles combined with the immaculate harmonies of a sun drenched Fleetwood Mac means West End Cost perfectly evokes the mood and style of 1970’s Los Angeles and is a must own for any Yacht Rocker or fan of Blue Eyed Soul. 

Their 10 track debut West End Coast is homage to their AOR heroes.  The title alone alludes to their London geography, but openly embraces to the band’s love for one of the most vibrant epochs in popular music. 

London’s longest running purveyors of smooth music Club Yacht Rock interview the band below for TicketWeb UK to find out what drives the duo, who they admire and how they relax on tour.

Young Gun Silver Fox will be performing at Shoreditch’s Kamio on 9th June and again to the Soho Radio’s Open House Stage at British Summertime in Hyde Park on 7th July 2017. Tickets for the Kamio show are available on TicketWeb now right here: ticketweb.co.uk/younggunsilverfox

Check out the video for ‘You Can Feel It’:

Album ‘West End Coast’ is available to buy now from iTunes here: West End Coast Young Gun Silver Fox  

Club Yacht Rock will be celebrating its 10 Year Anniversary this August, with venue and date to be announced very soon, more details here

The Interview

SL= Shawn Lee. AP = Andy Platts.
The Young Gun Silver Fox tour bus must be the most chilled place on Earth.  What’s playing on the stereo and what do you do to relax?  What are you rituals ahead of the show?

SL – Well it is pretty chill to be honest. We have a tremendous laugh. We joke about Adrian our live drummer being a Hit Man always disappearing to shoot or strangle someone while we are on tour and I’m Pretty sure he is!

We were big fans of the spoof internet TV series Yacht Rock, which followed the comedy misadventures of Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, but also lovingly introduced a generation to the power of smooth music.  We pretty much stole our whole look from it, did you guys ever come across it? 

SL- Yeah I watched the web series.  It was pretty hilarious. So Smooth!

Love the Episode when Loggins get kidnapped and gets rescued by Mike McDonald & James Ingram. Cut Foot Loose! Ha ha

Coincidentally, The creators of the show were recently on NPR and the host played them You can feel it and they said some really nice things about us. Pretty cool full circle.

FM AOR Rock is arguably the pinnacle of studio recording and stellar musicianship.  Who most influenced you in the lead up to recording the album?  What emotions did you experience going into the studio to encapsulate such an iconic sound, and one so difficult to capture?

SL- I totally agree. The late 70’s LA sound was the apex of Analog recording. The best players,Producer’s,songwriters & engineers. Hired musical assassins!

The Michael McDonald/Doobie Brothers era was a big influence.

Also Hall & Oates,Ambrosia,Pablo Cruise,Player,Steely Dan,America,Fleetwood Mac,Boz Scaggs . The Classics … and believe me they set a very high standard for us to aspire to!

West End Coast is of another time and place.  Where and when is better?!  London now or Los Angeles forty years ago?  What appeals to you love about both?

SL- Man the 70’s were a magical time. The music was so incredible.

People looked funky and it was an expressive time to be alive. Southern California has always held a special place in my heart and my life. I have been living in London for over 20 years now so I obviously love it too!

The perfect scenario for me would be to have a time machine so I could bounce back to the 70’s and live my life between the past & present.

A guy can only dream…

Is it just us, or did this kind of music simply explode in terms of popularity in the last 10 years?  When we first running Club Yacht Rock, we thought we’d be the only club ever to play the Doobie Brothers to a dancefloor, but now it seems ubiquitous.  What is its appeal and why was it overlooked for so long?

SL- It’s not just you- I’ve seen West Coast/AOR music really building in recent years. The appeal is that it is some of the best & most musically sophisticated pop music to ever have been played on the radio.

I LOVE this music and I am over the moon to see it getting another look.

Big Ups to You,Too Slow to Disco,Ed Motta,West Coast Golden Radio, Preservation Records & all the DJ’s & reissue labels who are out there promoting this music worldwide.

Let’s keep building!

Young Gun Silver Fox was born as a studio project.  Did you always envisage taking the show to the stage?  Were there any major considerations when bringing that golden sound to life in the live arena?

AP –  I’m not sure that was ever really considered until the record was actually finished and we’d thought ‘okay what now???!!’. I think once we realised we were going to find homes for the record with various labels, it started to dawn on us that playing this stuff live was a real possibility. Of course in a perfect world we’d probably have an augmented lineup featuring percussion, some synth dude, another guitar….and all singing but we gotta keep it tight for the moment (which makes life easier too!). The main thing was to ensure the golden 3-part harmonies were there, a fat bass & drums rhythm section and finally the sweet phased rhodes and springy guitar sound to top it off. Smoooooth!

The sound of the era was dominated by American acts.   However West End Coast has a definite British influence thanks to Andy being a Londoner.  Who were the greats of British AOR who influenced you?

AP  – Shawn’s more of a Londoner than I am!!! 🙂

I’m not sure British AOR ever had a big impact on me to be honest. I think I got to where my tastes are now via soul, jazz and melodic rock music converging independently.  But on the Brit side of things I’ve always loved that combination of smart songwriting, big harmonies and sophisticated use of chords. So to that end people like Electric Light Orchestra and Fleetwood Mac were a huge influence on me and obviously big tunes from people like Gerry Rafferty and Ace played their part in that kind of world. Paul Mc Cartney even had a few moments!

It’s funny how the ‘West Coast Sound’ and ‘AOR’ get lumped in together. For me AOR as a label is more the TOTO, Foreigner or Journey end of things.  Whereas ‘West Coast’ is a bit classier….think Doobies, Fleetwood Mac, America etc which is where I feel YGSF tends to sit more….but I’m sure people will disagree with a lot of what I’ve just said!!! 

Michael McDonald arguably possesses the most powerful and iconic voice of the genre, is he an influence?  Who else does Andy look to for vocal inspiration?

AP –   Yes he’s a giant influence on me!!! He sounds like no-one else and executes flawlessly every time. I had the honour of him singing backing vocals on a song I wrote for/with British singer Jo Harman recently. He sounded ace. Pop fact: It’s also fairly well known that Marvin Gaye was one of MMD’s biggest influences, who is also someone I put right up at the top for being in command of his craft.

Also Little Jimmy Scott, Kurt Elling, Scott Walker, Sly Stone, Lewis Taylor and also people like gospel legend Walter Hawkins and family have influenced me greatly over the years.

But to be honest, I really don’t consider myself a singer. Not a singer’s singer anyway. I started singing out of necessity in my teens to give voice to my song writing.

I’d say I was a straight-up musician first and foremost.

21st century technology played a big part in the project – a lot of tracks coming together through recordings passed to one another via text message for example.  The internet has made collaboration and creation easier, but would you give it all up to get into one of those recording studios of old?!

AP –   Although the Silver Fox has some 10 years on me, I very much started recording on tape back in the early 90’s. I did my last proper tape session in 2008 in LA I think….so I remember very clearly

 The magic and the ritual of it all for sure. I would love to do that again in a legendary auspicious studio setting…maybe with YGSF one day…maybe a live thing…who knows. Ain’t nothin’ like it though, for sure.

Your album artwork perfectly encapsulates the sound and the era  – palm trees, open roads and Californian skies.  It’s frankly our favourite imagery and has been for a long time, hence we’re addicted to Too Slow To Disco too:  www.tooslowtodisco.com

What are you favourite album covers of the genre?  Which are the worst?!

AP – Favourites include Player’s ‘Baby Come Back’, of which we recently did for our 7″ release of ‘Long Way Back’ and ‘Lolita’….Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, H&O’s Abandoned Luncheonette, Steely Dan ‘Peg’, Doobies – ‘Minute by Minute’, Kenny Loggins – Keep the Fire.

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