Q&A with Reggie Youngblood of Black Kids; Playing Vagabond Tonight

It's always a good feeling when a local band comes back to us. You've probably heard Black Kids' first hit single "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You" in one variation or another, and now they're doing a statewide Florida tour to test out their never-played-in-public new material, and stopping in at the Vagabond tonight.

We spoke with lead singer/guitarist Reggie Youngblood about their new sound (a modern day Ace of Base?), why they've neglected us for so long, and what they have in store for their show tonight.

New Times: What made you guys decide to plan a Florida Tour? I'm guessing you guys being from Jacksonville has something to do with it.

Reggie Youngblood: [Laughs]. Yeah, well a couple of reasons, really. One we feel like our home state has been by us. I feel like we've played more in London than we've in Florida outside of Jacksonville, and we kind of wanted to do that. Also we haven't played out in over a year, which has been really strange for us. Because I dunno, I feel like Kevin, Owen, and I have been playing in bands pretty much for 10 years and we've never gone a month without playing a show, and now we've gone a year without playing. So we're just trying to ease ourselves back into playing out again and introduce some new material.

I was going to ask you about that, also, you have a new album coming out?

No, we do not. No, there's no album planned. But we just kind of wanted to test out the new material.

So you're just gonna test it out on your fans first?

Yeah, we just wanted to because before we got signed to the label, our experience was to play once or twice every month at the same bar and to constantly revise songs until they were effective [laughs]. And we haven't been doing that. We've just kind of been cramped in a room playing these songs over and over again.

Just to each other?

Yeah. We kind of want a new perspective. We wanna see how people react to them.

How many songs have you guys come up with so far?

About an album's worth, but it's highly unlikely that we're gonna play all of the songs [laughs]. We're only gonna play the one's we're really fond of, and then to close the rest of the set will be the old favorites.

I think the whole last album was filled with old favorites. I remember traveling overseas and hearing Black Kids blasting from every pub, plastered on every wall and in every local magazine. What's it like as a Florida band to reach such worldwide success?

That's awesome. It's so bizarre.

I feel like you've reached out more worldwide than you have really in Florida.
Yeah, somewhat. I mean sadly.


Well unfortunately and sadly, because as a Floridian, I desperately wanted my favorite bands to come down, and then they would just stop at Atlanta. They wouldn't even come to Florida, or if they did come to Florida, they'd just go straight to Orlando and wouldn't even check us out. Wait, I forgot what the question was.

What's it been like for you guys to reach success in like such quick time.

It's been overwhelmingly wonderful, really. Surprisingly a lot of work, we didn't anticipate that [laughs]. Just constantly moving, which is kind of really a wonderful thing, but it kind of wore at us, which is why I don't think we've played in over a year. We're kinda getting antsy, which is why we're trying to get back into shape, really.

What inspired the song "I'm not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you"? That sounds like a really specific situation.

[Laughs]. Umm, yeah. I think that's why it worked, 'cause it kind of rings true. If I really wanted to, I could make certain people that I know fit into that scenario [laughs].

No, I don't think we want you to drop names, more like what inspired you to write the song the way you wrote it that made it such a hit.

I dunno. I feel like really that song is just kind of, you know, a combination of all these attributes that I love in all my favorite songs. Like wry humor mixed in with some heartfelt pain [laughs]. It's just a combination of I'm suffering but I'm gonna make light of it, and I think people like that sort of thing.

Yeah, I was going to say for a message that's so sad, it's kind of an upbeat and catchy song.

Thank you. That was an intentional thing to have morose lyrics but to upbeat music like the Smiths or the Divine Comedy or the Magnetic Fields -- the artists that I admire.

So then what do you have planned for your show at the Vagabond in Miami tomorrow night? South Florida's been looking forward to it since we first heard about it a few months ago.

We definitely hope to maintain a party. But I dunno. I think I'm somewhat anxious because when you play the same songs for a few years straight, you kind of rely on them. You want them to be, but now we're like this is something new. We don't know how people will react to them. It's exciting.

So have you played any of these songs for anyone else before? Or is Florida the first to hear it all?

Tonight's the first time we're gonna play them in front of anybody, actually. We haven't played them for our friends or family. So Orlando is the first bunch to be subjected.

What was your inspiration behind the new songs?

Sort of some... I dunno. I think we're kind of mining in different areas from our previous record which was sort of

Heartbreak and relationships?

Yeah, but also I think like genre wise a lot of influences were sort of like French dance music, and I think our new stuff is coming from this odd mix of ABBA and Fleetwood Mac and reggae [laughs]. Okay, so what did I say? I said ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, and reggae. That's Ace of Base, right?

Really? I wouldn't put Ace of Base under reggae?

They're kind of like ABBA, and that's what we've got going on.

So you're kind of like an updated Ace of Base is what you're saying?

Yes. I'll take it.

So are you going to do any Ace of Base covers to sort of tribute to that?

That's not a bad idea. I dunno if we'll do them justice. But "The Sign" would be fun.

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Christine Borges