The Younger Lovers are a musical group led by author, choreographer, filmmaker and artist Brontez Purnell, who sings of himself: "Got all this love inside to give/I rock a one man punk band too." Their songs are catchy, persistent, and breathless. They share a singular focus and a peculiar logic, the result of Brontez playing every instrument on the record. As Brontez's heart is unraveled across an LP, modern boys, shit-talkers, and charming singers all buzz and careen through the story, revealing the longing and vulnerability that mark the greatest love songs. Or as Brontez once described the band, "fucking Motown but on my terms."
Brontez was born and raised in Triana, Alabama (population 496) and moved to Oakland, California in 2002. Shortly after his arrival, he wrote the first Younger Lovers songs. The band's first record, Newest Romantic, was released in 2008. At that time, Brontez was best known for his performances with Gravy Train!!!! and his confessional zine Fag School. The Younger Lovers stood somewhere in between - jittery and wide-eyed, leering and sweet. In the ten years that have passed since Newest Romantic, Brontez has fully revealed his tangled, relentless creative spirit - founding the Brontez Purnell Dance Company; directing the documentary film Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock; publishing two novels, including the Whiting Award-winning Since I Laid My Burden Down; and continuing to tour with and release records by The Younger Lovers.
To mark the ten-year anniversary of The Younger Lovers debut, Know Wave is proud to present the second review in our new series, reexamining key moments and figures in cultural history. Archival videos, correspondence, and photos are presented alongside artworks by Brontez, all unpacked through new interviews with the artist and his collaborators and friends. Through our in-depth examination of this powerful LP, Know Wave highlights the genius of Newest Romantic and locates it within Brontez's prolific maelstrom.
Xara Thustra & Siobhan Aluualot
Andy Wombwell & Alex Hinton
“Younger Lovers started in 2003. I was in Panty Raid and then we broke up, but there was this song I’d already written for that band, ‘Sha-Boo-Lee.’ I was really into that song and I just told myself that I should still record it by myself. Then I was like, ‘Why don’t I record a bunch of songs?’ I have this friend Vice who was/is in XBXRX. We moved from Alabama to California together. He was recording stuff at this place called Club Short and I was like, ‘Can you record my EP for free?’ and he was like, ‘Sure!’”- Brontez Purnell in a 2009 interview with Osa Atoe and Ramdasha Bikceem. Published October 2009 in Maximum Rocknroll, issue 317
The Younger Lovers, “Sha-Boo-Lee” music video, directed by Irwin Swirnoff
“We fell in love with Brontez during the making of the DVD, Stame the Batch. We appreciated him as part of the Gravy Train!!!! live band once he joined. But when we really got to know him was when Alex made the Brontez featurette that’s on the DVD. That was when we were like, this guy is amazing.
"Gravy Train!!!! was such an out there gay band, gay lyrics, gay fun. But it wasn’t political, and that would’ve been hard for a band to do in the eighties I think. At that time, the people who were brave enough to be out and write about it or perform about it were message oriented for the most part. And I respect that, and that has a place, even today. But I love that liberation for Gravy Train!!!! was almost incidental, just, ‘We’re gay!’ And they’re not even all gay, but it obviously had a gay sensibility. ” - Andy Wombwell in a 2018 interview with Know Wave
“Junx in the Trunx” featurette (excerpt), directed by Alex Hinton. Part of the Gravy Train!!!! DVD, Stame the Batch, 2004
Andy Wombwell and Alex Hinton founded the label Retard Disco in 2003, which released the Gravy Train!!!! DVD Stame the Batch in 2004 and The Younger Lovers CD Newest Romantic in 2008
“So Love Warz is me, Xara Thustra, and Siobhan Lovealot. At the time we were making collaborations and making videos. We made four or five movies and maybe ten videos or something. Both of us are longtime friends of Brontez and we’ve toured with Brontez doing performance art when Brontez was in Gravy Train!!!! And so we all basically decided to make a video for this project that Brontez was starting to do. Eventually we all sat down at a table and idea generated and tried to make something a little different and interesting in terms of the three videos being a single narration – ultimately three songs just being one video. It was probably three or four days of shooting at different locations, really on the fly with just a handheld video camera, using all public spaces. We shot on the bus, in a barbershop, in a bookstore – Adobe Books – and just walking around on the street and stuff. Working with Brontez is a pleasure, it’s crazy, and it’s super fun. It’s not sensical and sometimes it’s just like, kind of wacky and wild, but it’s a very directed towards an end means of a final product that’s created. We work kind of similar and from there we just pushed. Just turned the camera on and danced.” - Xara Thustra in a 2018 interview with Know Wave.
Younger Lovers “Can I Come Over? / Quoting Poets / Kiss Me On the Bus” directed by Love Warz (Xara Thustra and Siobhan Lovealot)