WU LYF counters corporate music world with criminal image

Courtesy photoEmotion-driven output: The Brits in WU LYF — World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation — are so intent on avoiding corporate aspects of the music business

It sounds like a sinister cult — Manchester’s ominously-dubbed WU LYF, or World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation.

People who enlisted after its inception last year were issued bandit masks and a statement of intent, while early press shots of the founders were deliberately vague, showing what appeared to be a gang of face-shrouded criminals, apparently under arrest.

Compound this with an aerial-shaped logo — which showed up on jacket patches and tattoos — plus a 12-inch single, “Concrete Gold” backed with “Heavy Pop” — and a genuine mystery unfolded: Who, or what, was WU LYF?

But WU LYF — who play The Independent in San Francisco today — is actually four kids, managed by ex-Factory Records alum Warren Bramley, who are sick of following traditional music-biz rules.

“I don’t know if we run so harshly on principles as, say, Fugazi did, but we definitely want to do things our own way,” says band bassist Thomas McClung, 21, whose Cure-thick riffs drive WU LYF’s self-produced, self-released debut disc “Go Tell Fire To the Mountain.”

“The original Lucifer Youth Foundation was set up for just us, so we could function as a unit without having any external input, so we could make music without anybody sticking their nose in trying to make it more radio-friendly,” he says.

WU LYF’s sound is unique; songs on “Fire” — like “Dirt,” “We Bros” and “Spitting Blood” — boast Modern English-textured guitar tones set to twitchy rhythms and the Gothic organ and raspy vocals of frontman Ellery Roberts.

The album has nothing to do with McClung’s favorite artists — it’s tapping into the grandeur of Bruce Springsteen, even Nirvana, he says. “Bands that have a real power to their music, that run heavy on emotion. It’s not like there’s some secret pedal we’re using — we’re actually feeling these things.”

For McClung, the anti-corporate concept coalesced in college. He was working toward a graduation — and subsequent 9-to-5 job — that he was beginning to dread.

“I was still studying when the blog machines went nuts over one of our first songs, and talked about us like we were the next big thing,” he says. “And I thought, ‘really? I don’t feel like the next big thing, sitting here with this stupid test!’”

He dropped out, went full-time with WU LYF, and turned down every major and indie imprint offering them a contract.

McClung never imagined actual WU LYF tattoos. “I don’t promote that,” he says. “But it’s cool that people feel so strongly about our band that they get permanent ink. But hey — anyone who feels like they’re part of our group already is.”

IF YOU GO

WU LYF

Where: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Tickets: $15
Contact: (415) 771-1421; www.ticketfly.com

artsentertainmentmusicPop Music & JazzSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

PG&E is locked in a battle with San Francisco city officials over the cost of connecting city projects using public power to the grid.<ins> (Courtesy photo)</ins>
SF challenges PG&E’s power moves

Utility uses expensive hookups to discourage public power use

Mayor London Breed said The City would pause reopening plans in order to “make sure we continue our cautious and deliberate approach.” <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
SF slows down reopening after COVID-19 cases rise

Restaurants no longer permitted to increase indoor dining capacity to 50 percent

Toilet (Shutterstock)
Table salt and poop: Testing for COVID-19 in S.F. sewage

The City’s sewers could provide an early warning of fresh outbreaks

A study published in the December 2016 Scientific Reports journal reveals that brain activity increases when people’s political beliefs are challenged. <ins>(Screenshot Scientific Reports)</ins>
Now is the time to make friends with enemies

We can be civil to others who have different political beliefs

Most Read