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June 2022 (NOAHFINNCE)
Feature

Cold Years: "This album is a lot more positive; that's what people need to hear now"

With their defiant new album, Scottish punks Cold Years are coming out swinging.
Published: 11:09 am, April 22, 2022Words: Jack Press.
Cold Years: "This album is a lot more positive; that's what people need to hear now"

With the state of generally everything right now, you'd be forgiven for feeling down in the dumps - and Cold Years' Ross Gordon, he's as fired up about revolution as he is about his new record, 'Goodbye To Misery'.

"I don't speak for everyone in our generation, but I don't know anyone that votes for the Tories," chuckles the frontman from his home in Glasgow. "I'm not proud to be British; I don't stand up and salute the Union Jack or listen to how great Churchill is. I don't care about that shit."

However, Ross believes our generation isn't wholly backed against the wall by the wolves. As evidenced across 'Goodbye To Misery', he thinks we've got a fighting chance at changing our story before the chapter's finished.

"Our generation is catching on to the fact that our country's not so clean, and it's not got such a nice past. There needs to be some change, whether that's down to how people vote or how they move. I think our generation have a real opportunity to make things different, and I'd really like to play a part in that."

And that's exactly how 'Goodbye To Misery' unfolds track by track. Their heartland rock is still there, but it's more riled up than ever. '32' injects some pop-punk pop a la 'American Idiot'-era Green Day; 'Jack Knife' runs riot with the urgency of political punk veterans Anti-Flag and Rise Against; and 'Never Coming Back' kicks up a roaring chorus capable of causing a stir in the vein of The Menzingers' indie folk-punk. By and large, their change in sound has been bought on by how they're feeling.

"I see the news every day where we're turning refugees away. We're shipping off people who have nothing, and we're taking even more away from them and not giving them the opportunity to have a life. It's so sad, and it makes me so fucking angry," spits Ross with serious venom.

Between the politics and the pandemic, you'd forgive Cold Years for giving us an album of negative punk songs, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Unlike the anger that riddled 2020 debut 'Paradise', 'Goodbye To Misery' deals its cards and raises up some hope and positivity to proceedings.

"I'm so much happier now, although there's still a lot of anger in there, it's just done in a more eloquent and controlled way. It's expressed in a more mature way, whereas with 'Paradise', I was just really pissed off and wanted to express that. But this album is not like that, it's a lot of hope and a lot more positive, and I think that's what people need to hear now because everyone's been shit on for so long."

"I'm so much happier now, although there's still a lot of anger in there"
Ross Gordon

A lot has happened for us all since Cold Years – completed by guitarist Finlay Urquhart and bassist Louis Craighead – wrote their first record. It's the same for the band themselves. Ross has traded in his hometown of Aberdeen for Glasgow, swapped a 'really horrible relationship' for one that's 'really levelled me out', and written an album that calls for better days. If it does nothing else, they hope it helps you hold on for a brighter future.

"For the last two years, we've watched our government destroy our country and take advantage of its population. We've watched people lose loved ones, lose their jobs and their homes, and there are people who shouldn't be, relying on food banks right now so that their government can benefit instead. It's this horrible, horrible situation, and I just want people to listen to this record and think that there is something else out there and that life is going to get better – I just wanted to write something positive for a change."

It's not just a lyrical move, either. It's inspired by the tsunami of post-pandemic releases. Or it's attempting to be anything but everything else you've had on in your headphones this year.

"We wanted to make a punk record because I was writing stuff and thinking about doing some acoustic songs to just put out for myself, and I sat and looked at it and thought, 'how many other people are doing this?'.

"When all this over, everyone's going to be releasing really sad, downtrodden music, and I don't want that. I want people to come out of this wanting to run back to shows and live in that audience and feel the energy, so we were like fuck it, let's just write 12 songs that are straight to the bone punk rock that's uplifting with a message behind them."

Spinning 'Goodbye Misery' is like choosing to drink milkshakes first thing in the morning rather than a shot of black coffee while you bop to the pop charts. It's got urgency to it and an energy to match. And by God has it got a message behind it, one that's very simple to sum up.

"I just want to help people, you know? I think people need artists producing music that they can identify with and rock out in their living room to. To be able to allow people to let go because everyone lives such a hectic, stressful, emotional life. It's impossible cause everything's up in the air at the moment.

"There's no future, there's no certainty, there's no comfort, and there's no home. I don't feel like there's anybody settled down right now. Having music to go to when you want to or need to is a really important thing, and I'd love that if our music was a comfort to someone or some hope, that they were able to use it to help themselves."

For Ross and co., Cold Years have a responsibility to themselves to write down how they feel about the world around them, and a responsibility to others to share it. But that doesn't make them political; it just makes them human.

"I wouldn't call us a political band at all; I just think there's a tinge of it because it's so in your face, just like with everyday life. You can't ignore it – I get 100 pings a day from the BBC telling me the next mistake our Prime Minister's made, you know?"

And if the news is telling everybody how terrible and terrifying it all is right now, why can't Cold Years tell everyone to raise their voices and take a stand?

"You can't just sit back when you've got a platform; you need to take into account what's going on around you. I think a lot of bands are scared to say something or think that it would alienate them or decrease their listeners. If someone's gonna take offence because I don't like the government in this country, don't listen to my fucking music, I don't care."

Inspired by artists as innovative and varied as Bob Dylan, Anti-Flag and NOFX, Cold Years knew that 'Goodbye To Misery' had to be outspoken.

"Everyone has a right to express an opinion, but you need to do it in a mature way, and you need to respect the opinions of other people. But as an artist, if you're not happy about something, or you feel there's an injustice, then express it.

"Political songs are timeless, and they have a purpose and a meaning, and they last forever, they never go away. That's the kind of music I want to write. 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' by Bob Dylan is probably one of the best songs ever written; it still gives me chills."

'Goodbye To Misery' is just as much about personal growth. It wants you to dive into its tales of the trials and tribulations of growing up in modern-day Scotland and apply them to your own life. It's an album intended for you to tear to pieces and fashion into something that fits you. And if you do that, then for Cold Years, they've done what they set out to do.

"When I was a kid, Matt Skiba and Alkaline Trio had this way of writing songs where every single one I listened to, I always identified a part of my life where it was relevant. You're able to take someone else's content and someone else's feelings and apply it to your own life, and feel like maybe it's not so bad, or maybe it's just a comfort to get you through a really rough time.

"I think anbody who can do that to our music, I take that as one of the greatest feelings in the world - when we're on tour, and someone says to me, 'this song helped me get through this'. Music is the most subjective e thing on the planet, and anbody who's able to take whatever I'm singing and feeling and apply it to their own life and do something with it, that's incredible – I love that feeling." 

Taken from the May issue of Upset. Cold Years' album 'Goodbye To Misery' is out 22nd April.

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