Music interview: Rob Galloway on the return of The Yalla Yallas

'It's pretty much a punk record with an undertone of love in there as well,' says singer Rob Galloway by way of introduction to the new album by Leeds band The Yalla Yallas.

Thursday, 6th July 2017, 1:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:24 am
The Yalla Yallas have just erelased their new album, Medusa.

“Everything I write with The Yalla Yallas just revolves around love and anger. Love for the people around me, anger at the politics and the way of the world.”

Called Medusa, it includes a couple of songs that were originally destined for a follow-up to his gentler solo album, Reflections, released last year. “Mi Corazon and Mentira were meant to be for another solo album but the band really liked what I was doing as a solo artist and they wanted in on it, so I think we’ve found a way of bringing it into The Yalla Yallas – not in a big way, just enough to evolve the band maybe musically and lyrically.

“We’re in our mid-thirties now, how we’re meant to maintain this anger and energy I don’t know. Maybe the sound needs to evolve a little. I just write about what I’m experiencing and the band really liked these songs and they wanted to take them on as well which is really nice.”

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When it comes to what irks him, Galloway says: “The usual things – politics. You can’t switch on the news without getting angry. As a songwriter you find it hard to ignore. The political songs are quite obvious, like Asylum which takes direct aim straight at Donald Trump and Theresa May. Co-exist is an anti-war song. The journalist John Cantlie got abducted in the Middle East and was held to ransom. That’s questioning governments’ role – do we pay the ransom or do we leave him there. There’s a question in that, but ultimately we all have to co-exist and get on, we can’t keep having wars, we need to figure a way of getting along together.

“Then the rest of the anger comes from the breakdown of a relationship that I was in last year – that always stirs up a few emotions.”

The album was recorded in five days. “It felt like we came off tour with loads of energy and I was writing loads of songs so over Easter we just went in and smashed out the album,” says Galloway. “We just went for it. We didn’t overthink anything, we didn’t overwork anything, we just thought, ‘Let’s just go back to what the roots of the band is and let’s bring that live energy and live feel to it’.”

The album is the first recording to feature the band’s new drummer Joel Murray. “He’s been in a couple of other bands, most notably one called Bootscraper,” says Galloway. “He’s a proper musician. He plays accordion, although he doesn’t play it on the album; he also plays piano, though he doesn’t play that on the album either. He’s basically the best musician in the band but we don’t let him do anything apart from play drums! Unfortunately he just wasn’t available on the days when we were doing the bits of piano and accordion. I did the piano and Vince [Cayo], who was on tour with us in November, did the accordion.”

The Yalla Yallas play at Bad Apples on Call Lane, Leeds on July 7; they also have a gig at Brudenell Social Club on August 1. Medusa is available on CD, green vinyl and download from their website,