THE LAST YEARS | Pulling closer - An Interview
Although around for a relatively short period of time in comparison to other bands The Last Years have certainly made a profound impact on the scene with their 80's inspired Synth driven melodies that have become a fan favourite for over a year.
The Last Years are a synth driven pop band hailing from New England, USA. Fronted by Drew Gowan and aided by his best friend Aaron, a Musician and Studio Engineer. Both met whilst working in a Studio in Nashville, TN and its fair to say they've never looked back.
Coincidentally, this week they celebrated 1 year since their debut Album 'Future Ghosts' which helped grease the neon wheels and fast tracked them to the grid where they've firmly planted roots since. Whilst they don't regard themselves as Synthwave per se they've been firmly embraced by the fans having collabrated & aligned themselves with some of the scene's celebrated names such as The Subtheory, Chris Keya & Jacket. to name a few.
They're currently putting the finishing touches to a new eagerly awaited Album entitled 'The After' and judging by the sneak peaks released we're in for something special.
I've been watching these guys with great interest for a number of months now so I was super excited to get a chance to chat with them, take a look!
Firstly, thank you so much for your time today with Forged, been watching your career now for awhile and it’s exciting to hear the music you create….
So, tell us…The Last Years is essentially a duo, how did you meet up and what inspired your journey into Synthwave?
The Last Years is made up of myself (Drew) and one of my best friends in the entire world Aaron. We met in the early 2000s when we both lived in Nashville. We worked at a studio on Music Row together and became really good friends throughout the time there. Aaron used to sneak me into this Irish pub before I turned 21 and we would hang and talk about music over far too many drinks I’m sure. We actually didn’t start making music until April of 2020, after we’d known each other for like 15 years.
I started working on The Last Years in January/February of 2020 right before the pandemic hit hard over here. I released 3 or 4 singles and in April I sent Aaron a really rough demo of “TV Romantic” and he asked if he could work on it and of course I said yes. Next thing we knew we were knee deep in an EP together and that’s really when The Last Years came into it’s own. As far as our journey in to Synthwave (I’m not sure I’d call our music Synthwave in the true definition of the genre, more Synthwave adjacent) I personally have an unhealthy love with music from the 80’s and 90’s so what you hear from us is just what comes out when there’s a keyboard and a guitar there. A chorus pedal on your guitar never hurts with that sound either!
Your last release saw you collab with the amazing Jacket. The single itself seems to have been very well received, how do you think it went overall? Are you interested in collaborating in the future?
Thank you! That was such a rad track to work on and Pete (jacket.) is an incredible producer. He gives great feedback, clear notes, and helpful direction with what he’s looking for. I absolutely love how the track turned out, but it’s kinda hard to not have a killer track with jacket, Yoru, and Syst3m Glitch involved! I love collaborating.
My(Drew) main instrument is guitar and obviously I’m the singer in The Last Years so typically I get the opportunity to lend those attributes to other artists/producers and it’s super fun. We’re always open to collabs in the future and have a few things in the works right now with some familiar faces in the scene.
Tell us a little about your creative process, who or where do you normally draw inspiration from?
Our creative process has kind of changed and grown a little bit over the last 15 months. On the first EP “Future Ghosts” we would start working on a song independent of the other person and then bring to the table once it was close to finished. On our new record we are really sending ideas back and forth much earlier on and each of us will hop in and add or subtract things throughout the process.
The work flow and collaboration has gone so much smoother this go around. We live in two different states which has it’s challenges, Aaron lives in Tennessee and I live in Connecticut. Inspiration comes from a variety of places I think. I will typically start writing something on guitar just because that is the instrument I am most comfortable with. Aaron is the synth/keys guy in this outfit. He’s an incredible musician and will send over ideas that he’s written or started there and then I’ll usually figure out a guitar part and then vocals and melody after that. I know for me lyrically I pull from things that I’m currently going through or have gone through in the past. We might be a little emo on the vocal/lyrics side!
Who were your musical inspirations growing up? I imagine that certainly changed over time?
Haha yeah I’d say they’ve definitely changed. My musical inspirations growing up were 90’s country. I grew up in the south and my mom was a huge country music fan. I will say that from a song writing perspective that era of country music is amazing. George Strait, Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn…this list goes on.
That all changed when I was 12 and discovered Nirvana. It was over after that. Then when I was in high school I got super into Tears for Fears, The Cure, The Smiths, Billy Idol and so on. I’d say those bands/artists and then singers like Mike Patton(Faith No More/ Mr. Bungle), Maynard James Keenan(Tool), Davey Havoc (AFI) and Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan/The Black Queen) really influenced me as a artist and singer. Fun Fact, I was in my high school show choir!
Can you tell us a little about your current and future projects?
Right now we are finishing up our next record. It’s called “The After” and will hopefully be out sometime in the fall. It’s a bit of a departure musically and is more guitar driven with synths layered in. It’s definitely The Last Years but I think it shows where we are in this very moment.
Just trying to figure out what’s next and pick up the pieces from the last year and a half. I’m also working on quite a few collabs right now, doing vocals for several other producers. Can’t wait to share all of the new stuff with everyone. We’ll be posting short clips of all of the new stuff on Twitter and IG in the coming weeks and months and may even finance a short run of cassettes for the new record. So the rest of 2021 is looking pretty busy!
As relative newcomers to the scene I’d imagine there are still aspects of it you need to discover, is there anything that you have discovered that you’d love to see change?
I think the scene will just need to continue to grow and expand. Hearing what a lot of the relative newcomers like us are doing with Synthwave or Synthwave adjacent music has been really cool. I think anything will get stale and watered down if artists keep doing the same things as the artists before them. Merging other genres with Synthwave or synth pop has been awesome to hear too. I think that’s something that we have a tendency to do because we have some pretty eclectic music tastes between the two of us.
We’re starting to see the first shoots of an emerging live scene over the past year of what seemed like absolute torture for Artists, do you have any events or gigs lined up?
Nothing lined up just yet. I did a livestream back in May of 2020 but nothing really from a live perspective since then. Things over here seem to be getting a little worse instead of better so I’ll be interested to see what happens in the coming months. The other challenge that we have is living 12hrs away from each other, that makes getting together for a live performance a little tough. Not saying it could never happen but we’d have some logistical things to figure out.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years’ time as a band?
I’m hopeful that we’ll still be making music in some form or fashion. This has probably been for me the most fun and rewarding project I’ve done as a musician. I’d love for Aaron and I to continue to grow as a team and continue to make music that we are both proud of and enjoy. I think that’s every artist’s desire. If we can continue to put out something here and there that we think is the best possible piece of music we can make that would be nest case scenario.
We’re all over here listening to The Last Years of course, who are you guys into at the moment?
A pretty wide variety of things actually! Of course the the record from our buddy jacket has been on pretty heavy rotation since it dropped. Some great collabs on that one with Shadowrunner and Oceanside 85. The new At 1980 that just dropped is great too, love Josh Dally’s voice, those two dudes can make some noise together.
The record that has probably gotten the most play from me in the last few months is from a band called Soft Kill, they call themselves “doom pop”. The record is called. “ City” and it’s wonderful, probably my favourite album of 2020. Also a fellow New Englander that calls his project Old Moon has been on regular rotation. Not Synthwave by any stretch but just an unbelievable artist.
Our friend Shadowrunner just released a new record that is killer as did Dimi Kaye. There’s just so much stuff coming out that’s incredible.
What’s the one piece of advice you’ve been given in life that has always stuck with you?
To just be yourself and do what you think is cool. People who like it will come along for the ride and people who don’t won’t. And that’s OK! Not everyone is going to like what you make because music is such a subjective art form.
A message for your fans?
Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts thank you for everything. We never anticipated or expected anything from this project so to have people who genuinely enjoy what we do and support it is beyond amazing.
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