Ahead of their Afflecks Palace support set at Glasgow’s King Tut’s, reSound catch up with Pastel’s rhythm guitarist James Yates who tells us he nearly blew it with Liam Gallagher during their Knebworth support slot, and lead singer, cousin Jack Yates, who confesses to having just discovered legendary band Pixies, revealing a new found love for both their music and bassist Paz.

James and Jack Yates | Pic: Calum Mackintosh

We’ll be getting into the full Spirit of Spike Island later with Vega Rally, Pastel and Afflecks Palace on the bill, Jack telling us that the record label’s other signing, Ava Carlyle (daughter of Robert aka Begbie for you trainspotters out there), is also present but not playing tonight. Pastel’s lead guitarist Joe Anderson sits quietly at another table while we chat to the Manchester-born Yates boys, with drummer Rhys Wheeler and bassist Liam O’Shea elsewhere because their van’s broken down. 

It was just a few months after King Tut’s 1990 launch that The Stone Roses played a huge outdoor gig at Spike Island, an artificial island and former toxic waste dump on the edges of the River Mersey. The rest, as they say, is history, with recollections of the day both clouded and colourful. Without the inspiration of Spike Island, Oasis may never have made it to Knebworth and Pastel may never have followed Liam Gallagher back there as one of his support acts this summer. 

J Fender, frontman of tonight’s headline band Afflecks Palace originally set Spirit of Spike Island up as an online clothing store but the spirit spread to encompass a record label as a means of releasing the band’s records, and continued to spread to signing up promising talent with that baggy soul at heart.

Jack tells us they got involved with Spirit of Spike Island after a gig in their hometown of Swansea, which their now manager, producer, video maker and general dogsbody, J, was attending. James eloquently puts it “so, long story short, after the gig I was round the back having a piss in an alley and J appeared and we got talking and he asked if we were Pastel and I was like ‘how do you know that?’” OK you’re probably getting a feel now for the endless but entertaining levels of self-assurance we’re dealing with here… “and he explained he’d been chatting to a sound engineer who was singing our praises and it just went from there, and word of mouth really.”

A young band in this situation could feel overwhelmed with the desire to live up to an ideal from another time, being involved with a label with such strong associations with the Madchester scene, but not Pastel. The band, whose music infuses Madchester swagger with the melodic, hypnotic haze of shoegaze and cites influences including The Charlatans, Ride, The Verve, Shack and Radiohead, are taking it all in their stride. “We feel that a bit,” says Jack, “but we don’t feel challenged by it. That was a different time really, we’ve got to build on what we’ve got and I think it’s just about paying homage to that but we’re just doing our own thing really.”  And although there’s a definite nod to that era, they’re making their own mark with their own sound. Mind you, it’s not a bad marketing angle so why not roll with it…


I wonder if there’s any rivalry between the three bands (Pastel, Vega Rally and Afflecks Palace), especially with Pastel being gifted the golden ticket of the Liam Gallagher Knebworth support slot. But it turns out that they all muck in and support each other, with Afflecks Palace getting in on the Knebworth act. 

We all got to enjoy the day, and although we played, the boys from Afflecks Palace were there. Dan the guitarist was our guitar tech, the drummer Pete was our drum tech, it was any excuse to get them backstage to be honest. They were all our techs ’n’ stuff. 

Jack adds, “we even had our mate Jordan down as a bass tech. He’s never played bass in his life but he was a bass tech that day!” James says “we all just look after each other, they bring us here, we bring them there, we’re like a big family.” Aw, it could bring a tear to the eye but glad to hear it and wonder if they might need someone to carry their sunglasses cases next time round…

So down to the Knebworth experience, what was it really like? “Surreal, just amazing,” laughs Jack, shaking his curly head like he still can’t quite believe it happened. James feels the same, “yeah, it was mental, I don’t think it’s set in yet, truthfully and I don’t think it ever will. I think it’s gone over my head.”

Pastel on stage at Knebworth, June 2022 | Pic: Matthew Eynon

They both look a bit starry eyed at this moment as Jack gushes, “it’s one of the biggest events to happen in recent history, well for guitar music,” James going on to say “I personally wish I’d taken it all in but I don’t think my brain could hack it.” 

Playing it was a bit of a blur and I remember thinking oh wow and as soon as I started thinking like that I’d have to switch off because I realised that if I started thinking about what I was doing, I’d just bottle it and drop my guitar!

But despite this, they claim there were no nerves beforehand, as this was always the plan, James explaining, 

when we started the band the whole plan was to never like play somewhere like the Dog & Duck. The whole point of starting the band was to play huge venues.

Ah, these guys are brimming with confidence and remind me of someone I watched recently at Hampden Park. Jack goes on, “we had that mentality throughout the whole day, we were like ‘this is what we want to do, we’re ready for it.’”

So no nerves whatsoever? “I think the most nervous one of us was our drummer Rhys,” says James, “but as soon as he was on stage he was fine. So yes there were no nerves really. Liam surprised me, he wasn’t nervous at all.” What? They expected Liam Gallagher to be nervous about their performance? Oops, my mistake, they’re talking about their bassist, Liam O’Shea.

But was it not daunting seeing so many people in the crowd? “There was such a sea of people,” says James, “there was no endpoint.” This will surely help with any festival appearances they have in the future, which will be a walk in the park in comparison. James says, “Yeah, we were at the Happy Mondays and Primal Scream show and there were around 20,000 people there, and we just thought this is nothing compared to what we’ve played. And it did feel small. I know I sound a bit cocky but that’s just what it was like.” 

Being in King Tuts, there’s a steady stream of good music blaring from the speakers and as he says that the Happy Mondays come on. “It’s a f***cking sign” says Jack. And if a 20,000 crowd is small, what’s tonight going to be like with Tut’s capacity of 300? “Yes, it’s going to be a bit more intimate,” says Jack and James admits that it can be harder. 

With small venues you can see people’s expressions, you can see them standing there not giving a f***, disinterested, mouthing to their mate ‘this is shit’.

Well hopefully that’s actually “this is the shit”, but he’s right, it must be pretty intense, especially with all those phones catching every nuance.


But back to Knebworth, and it turns out they’d never actually met Liam Gallagher until the day after their gig. James tells us, “on the Saturday we got a text from Katie (his girlfriend’s sister) saying Liam wants you to come back to his party afterwards. They took us back and Liam was kind of standing there.” He goes on to explain, “so when we were playing on the Friday I called Liam a ‘dirty blue’ (referring to LG being a Man City fan and James being a United supporter). So basically, he made eye contact with us and was like, come over, and pointing at me said ‘you, you cheeky c***’ and I was trying to figure out what I’d done.” 

To be honest, I was surprised that James didn’t have a come back for Liam, but Jack says he was dumfounded. Hmm something you’ll not hear a lot of in relation to these Yates lads… He adds, they were really smashed. Now that’s something you will hear a lot in relation to them…

James goes on, 

He said ‘who are you calling a dirty blue on my stage?’ and I said ‘how do you know about that?’ to which he said ‘I read about it in the NME’ then gave me a hug. He said ‘I was angry at first but that’s exactly what we’ve missed, someone with some balls.’

James goes on to say that most people just want to suck up to Gallagher but he’s all about the banter. “Liam said when he first read it, he was pissed off for the first five minutes, thinking who does this guy think he is?”

I never planned to say it, it just kind of like came out and then Charlie Lightening, who directs Gallagher’s videos, was filming us and put his camera down and said ‘some f***ing balls’ and then I thought, aw f*** maybe I shouldn’t have said that. But na, he loved it really.

That’s the thing, it’s all about the banter and I think a lot of people just don’t get him. Jack agrees, “he don’t give a f***, he wants banter, a bit of aggro, a bit of controversy and there’s so little of that now, it’s all so PC.” 

James is still reliving the day, “when Debbie, his girlfriend, came in and shook my hand she said ‘oh, so you’re the United fan? So I asked her who she supported and she said ‘Arsenal’ and Gallagher was just sat down laughing away.”


With the Madchester scene and the likes associated with particular styles, are these guys getting any free clothes thrown at them from fashion brands with the prospect of them becoming trendsetters? James smirks “we’re not going to be, we just are!” But Jack adds, “I think if you do plan to be that, you’re not going be it. You’ve just got to do what you do and if people catch on then fine.” 

They’ve already done an advert for Liam Gallagher’s brand, Pretty Green, shot by Charlie Lightening last year and featuring their track Deeper Than Holy.  Did they manage to cadge some free clothes from that? “Yes, and we got paid as well,” says Jack. Really? “Aw come on, I’m not using this face for free, am I?” he laughs, pointing to whatever’s hidden under that mass of curls. He says James is the one with the looks and brains and I have to say, there’s an unmistakable touch of a young Damon Albarn about him. “Aw I get that all the time,” he says as Blur’s Country House plays in the background (and here’s a remotely relevant fact, Blur played King Tuts in July 1990 before they’d even released a single). Hmm I wonder if the resemblance to Albarn bugs old Liam Gallagher a bit? “Na, he just kept saying to me that I reminded him of Noel!,” says James with Jack adding, “yes, he hates that too, he kept banging on about it!” 


Just at that moment 1990’s Velouria by Pixies comes on, and I mention that Pixies are my favourite band, spurring Jack on to make a gigantic confession. 

I’d never heard of Pixies until we went to see them last week in Manchester.

Ok slow down sonny Jim, you’d never heard of Pixies? And you’re in what business? James goes on, “but now it’s non-stop, he was in the shower earlier with the Pixies blasting out.” Well that’s certainly progress. He goes on to say “yeah, we went to see them last week, they were outrageous! They just walked on, played 39 songs, didn’t say a thing, then walked straight off again, it was so f***ing cool.” Yes, seen them ten times now, whipping through their set at Crackity Jones speed each time and wouldn’t expect anything else! Jack says, “I’m in love with the bass player, wow she was f***ing hot, really!” Well Paz, what ya make of that?


So, are Pastel supporting any other bands after the LG experience, and of course Afflecks Place? “Well, we’ve got one but we can’t really say who it’s for,” says James. Oh come on, you can do better than that. Another beer? They do give us enough hints to figure it out but we don’t want them getting into trouble again… There’s also got another tour in September, in smaller cities including Oxford and their home town, Swansea.


A lot of artists are taking influence from the mood of the country at the moment, the politics and the poverty. But Jack, Pastel’s main song writer, takes inspiration from “Acid mainly.” Yeah, we get the drift, leading nicely onto their latest singe, Escape, where ‘she’ refers to the drug, Jack explaining that he took the term from former Shack frontman Mick Head “who was at one time a heroin addict and wrote a song using the term ‘she’ to describe the drug and I just basically did the same as it’s the most personal way to go into depth about it.” Ah, you see, he says it’s just Acid but he’s thought a bit about it all… “yeah it’s just about a good trip, a bad trip, a funny trip.” 


So do they think that young people’s musical tastes are moving away from the manufactured pop acts? “I think it will come full circle,” says Jack, with James adding, “Liam said when they started Oasis it was all ecstasy and dance music and no one really cared about guitar bands so Oasis’ main priority was to bring that back. I’m not say that’s our priority but when you think that over the space of two weeks there was over a quarter of a million people who went to see his shows, there’s clearly a demand for it.” 

Pastel live at King Tut’s, Glasgow | Pic: Calum Mackintosh

He agrees that their fanbase is getting younger now, “that’s one thing I noticed when we went to Knebworth. The crowd was 50/50 of people my dad’s age and people my age, which is great because you can see there’s a younger generation of fans coming through. Jack goes on, 

a lot of our fans are younger than us so they can actually look up to us and think that we’re an established band and might be inspired to start their own band.

And that’s a fantastic by-product of bands like Pastel, to inspire other youngsters to gather their guitars and have a go.

These guys are so full of brazen cheek and energy, it’s contagious. They tell it like it is and it looks like they’re already living that old school rock ’n’ roll dream, with a fearless attitude that will see them stop at nothing to succeed. La la love it!

Pastel have a new EP out later in the year and they’re recording an album, a few songs at a time so they can keep gigging away. And with Spirit of Spike Island signing a new distribution deal, we’ll hopefully see their records in the shops very soon. In the meantime you can shop the spirit here:

Interview and Words: Shirley Mack @musingsbymarie
Pictures: Calum Mackintosh @ayecandyphotography