Main Image: The Young & Free live experience. Listen: Aodhan King speaks about the forthcoming Y&F record.
2020 might well be remembered for a global pandemic, but for music fans it’s also the year that music went onto life support.
Sure, lounge room gigs served up on Facebook Live have been great, but it doesn’t hold a candle to an in the flesh performance; whether the stadium’s roar, or the sticky carpet underfoot at an inner city venue.
For Young and Free, 2020 was packed with live dates ahead of a mid-year album release. But with borders closed and a pandemic raging, the Sydney outfit have had some unexpected downtime before the release of album number four ‘All of My Best Friends’.
“For us it’s been a moment of recalibration – it’s caused us to ask the question what’s important in life” vocalist Aodhan King told 96five.
“For most of the Young & Free guys the last six months has been the longest we’ve spent in Sydney for around seven years….it’s different, but it’s actually been quite refreshing.”
With an album in the pipeline the band spent their downtime in many of the ways you’d imagine they would – time spent songwriting as well as connecting with fans online has topped the list.
But when you’re members of the biggest church in Australia, there’s another opportunity to serve amidst some forced space in the schedule.
“For us, church was moved online, so we’ve been involved in how that has looked. One of the best parts of this season has been mentoring through the youth online services. In terms of songwriting there’s a lot of amazing young people coming into the worship team, so that’s been really fun trying to figure out where we can fit these young guys in.”
Watch the official album trailer for our new album #AllOfMyBestFriends featuring Best Friends, Lord Send Revival, Never Have I Ever, As I Am, World Outside Your Window and Indescribable.https://t.co/D0rtzyBvsn
— #AllOfMyBestFriends 8/28 (@youngandfree) August 17, 2020
They’re no longer the new kids on the block, so the mentoring role is a favour that the Young & Free crew can repay after being helped on their way by another former Hillsong youth band in United.
“It’s crazy how quick time goes…we were at that point seven years ago, and now a lot of the band are married with kids. Just thinking about that whole journey – it’s been an amazing time!”
With a new album slated for release later this month, Aodhan says that they were eager to return to the band’s roots, whilst still looking to the future.
“It’s opposite to what we’re experiencing right now (during a pandemic), as we recorded the whole thing live with 3000 young people at our summer camp in January. So the album is loud, it’s rowdy and crazy, it’s passionate and faith filled. Coming off the back of the third record we really wanted to do something that was live and exciting, so we took things back to where we started with on our first album, which was also recorded at summer camp.”
With themes of unity under riding the album, it’s almost ironic that Young & Free have had to release ‘All of My Best Friends’ during a time when we’re being told to stay apart.
“The level of collaboration is so different to what we’ve ever had, we’ve really tried to include as many people as possible across the writing and recording process of the album. We’ve been calling this the together album, because it’s so focused on unity and the congregational setting; we look at this year and it’s the opposite, we never would have imagined releasing the album during such a time.”
It’s an important message for difficult times and one that Aodhan hopes that fans will take away from the new record.
“In this time we need to be intentional about community. I just pray that when people listen to this album it will inspire them to lean in more to community and staying in touch with friends, and actually being the church. I’m really excited about this album, and it’s a bit of a cliche, but this is my favourite one that we’ve done yet!”
‘All of My Best Friends’ is available on all platforms from August 28th.