If you haven’t heard of Years & Years, where the hell have you been hiding… Founded in London, they have hit the big time in a very short space of time, selling over 55,000 records in the first week of the album launch back in July 2015. Both their album Communion and single ‘King’ reached number one and now they spend most of their days touring the world, meeting hordes of screaming fans as they go!
The band are described as ‘a British electronica trio’, which would seem right seeing as in all the press shots you see the faces of frontman and keyboard player Olly Alexander, bass guitarist Mikey Goldsworthy, and keyboardist Emre Türkmen. But, what you might not know is that there is someone else who plays a very important and integral part of the band – without him you wouldn’t have been shaking those bums on the dancefloor quite like you have! Introducing Dylan Bell, the Years & Years drummer.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with Dylan, amidst the Years & Years summer tour, too find out what it’s like playing for thousands of people, his festival essentials, and what spirit animal he considers himself to be!
Hi Dylan! When and why did you start playing the drums?
I’ve been playing since as long as I can remember, I was always drawn to hitting things with sticks I guess. And there was this one time when I was pulled out of the crowd at a Green Day gig in Brixton Academy to play the drums… that sparked the passion!
How did you come to be the Years & Years drummer?
A long-about way but I basically made a lot of amazing connections during my time at LCC doing a degree in Sound Art Design. There I met some wonderfully creative people and worked as a sound designer for innovative young director called Rob Francis. He ended up directing Years & Years first music video for ‘Real’ and at the time they were a three-piece looking for a drummer. He recommended me and I’ve been buying him beers to say thanks ever since!
What has been your favourite gig that you have performed at so far?
We’ve had some incredible shows, from insane locations to insane crowds but for me nothing tops headlining Brixton Academy. That was my dream since I was 13 years old. We even headlined Wembley Arena 5 months later but for me it was and always will be Brixton. That place just holds so many memories and was such an honour to be able to play there [and for two nights as well!].
Being the handsome strapping man that you are, you must have a fair few fans… What’s the weirdest thing that’s been thrown at you on stage?
Ok, so how do I describe this? We have the most incredible following in Poland and must’ve played to like 30,000 people at a small festival once. Anyways, some fan throws onstage small, hand-stitched miniature dolls of us. Like a realistic water-bottle sized doll of myself, and detail from the hat, beard, eye colour, all the way down to the belly hair (no joke). The level of detail was quite impressive. I still have it at home in the corner of the bathroom (obviously that’s where you’d keep it…?!).
Who is the most famous person you’ve met?
Nile Rodgers for me was a big one, and we also met Katy Perry but that was so incredibly awkward so I’ve tried to block that out from my mind…. [a story for another time!].
What is your all-time favourite festival?
Personally it would have to be Secret Garden Party. I went 3 years in a row a few years back and had some of the best times of my life there. I think it’s changed a bit now but the world they built back then with the people was unbelievable!
If you could bring one item to a festival, what would it be and why?
I’d probably go tourist vibe with a horrendous fanny pack so that you can throw all your sh*t in there, stumble around and be able to get to everything you need quickly and clumsily and not lose anything valuable.
What do you do when you aren’t touring the world with Years and Years? Any passion projects?
Booze! I’m starting my own Irish Poitin brand called Rebel Rabbet. It’s going to be awesome! We’re infusing un-aged Irish Pot Still Whiskey with botanicals to create the world’s first botanically infused Irish Poitin. It starts like a Gin and finishes like a Whiskey. I can’t wait to finish distilling the next round of batches and get it launched!
And lastly, Jess and I always relate to our spirit animal - she is the peacock and I am the elephant. What would your spirit animal be, and why?
Err no idea on that one. Would love to say something cool like an Eagle but would probably be something awkward and useless like a Racoon or Sloth.
Follow Dylan on Instagram @dylanyears
Image Credits: Music Radar and Dylan Bell