Yotam Ben Horin announces his forthcoming album, Young Forever, due May 20 via Double Helix Records. Alongside the announcement, he's shared the LP's title track and first single + video, "Young Forever". The track features Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World) and Bob Hoag (Pollen, The Go Reflex).
Speaking on the track, Yotam wrote:
"'Young Forever' is an open letter I wrote to my younger self. When Covid hit and I was stuck in Israel, I decided to digitize all of my VHS and MiniDV tapes. I went on a trip down memory lane when I rewatched some of them and was reminded of what I felt at the time, living with not a worry in the world other than the love of making music. I was instantly inspired to write the song. It was also the last song written for the album. Sometimes, we get so caught up in life that we forget to step away from it for a second and look around to see what really matters to us.
When I got into Flying Blanket Studios (Mesa, AZ) in April of 2021, I let my friend Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World) know that I was in town and he offered to stop by the studio and say hi since he and producer Bob Hoag are also friends. While we were trying to figure out which day would be best for him to come over, I asked him about the arrangement of the song 'Young Forever' since it didn’t have a bridge and was really short. He put it all together really quickly over the phone and we went ahead and recorded it with his suggestions. When he showed up at the studio, I just had to put a guitar on his lap and have him play something."
When Yotam Ben Horin says, "I was pretty much born into music," the Useless ID frontman isn’t stretching his storyline so much as revealing his roots in light of his latest solo LP Young Forever.
After all, Ben Horin’s mother was a multi-instrumentalist/music teacher and started taking him to concerts at a very young age. Most were classical performances, but one night in 1983 happened to feature his favorite band at the time: Musical Youth, the reggae group widely recognized for the cast-iron classic "Pass the Dutchie." (Ben Horin’s mom must have known it’s not, in fact, about marijuana.)
To understand where Ben Horin’s own songwriting lies on the pop-rock spectrum, it’s best to start with one of his earliest memories—a second grade yeshiva class, not long after his family moved from Israel to Brooklyn.
"I had this teacher who used to bring a parakeet to class," explains Ben Horin, "and he had all these tricks up his sleeve which made school more interesting. On top of that, he had this little AM radio on while we were taking tests. The Beatles’ 'Michelle' used to come on every now and then, and it struck me what a beautiful song it was."
Right around the same time, Ben Horin and his younger brother, Ari, discovered a splintered drum set—just the snare and tom—in their family’s apartment and proceeded to "make quite a racket" alongside Ari's manic Casio melodies. The connective tissue between Ben Horin's earliest sound experiments and decades of vastly different bands—everything from the aforementioned punk acts Useless ID and SPIT to glimmers of grunge (Superdrive), folk (Tommy and June), and pop (sessions with Israeli icon Danny Sanderson)—was actually a friend's bat mitzvah.
"I remember the DJ—another kid from class—playing Nirvana’s 'Lithium,'" says Ben Horin. "When it started, I thought it was The Beatles, but then the chorus kicked in and it was like, 'This is crazy!' From that moment on, I wanted a guitar and became obsessed."
Ben Horin got his first guitar at 14 after working for his dad’s construction company. He "picked it up pretty quickly," often learning and building songs by ear as the axe "became [his] best friend." When Ben Horin’s family returned to Israel in the summer of '93, his guitar filled the silences of lonely nights and afternoons. Starting over in a new country with a new culture as a teenager was less than ideal, but one person made the move a little bit easier.
"He was the first kid to talk to me and be super friendly," Ben Horin says of the kid described in "Boy With Glasses," a brittle Young Forever ballad that ends with a sucker punch sequence about his passing. "We hadn't kept in touch since that year.... One day, I looked him up on Facebook and noticed that there weren’t many photos, so I started digging and found this long post his best friend wrote, which turned out to be a eulogy. I felt so bad that I went and wrote the whole song in 10 minutes."
Young Forever is full of moments like this—deeply personal diatribes that put Ben Horin’s long career in perspective alongside the relationships that have shaped his private life. This is especially true fo rPaola, Ben Horin’s partner; her presence hangs over the album’s smartphone spreads and many of its massive hooks, including the revved-up rhythms of "In Between the Highs and Lows," the delicate, guitar-guided verses of "Here With Me," and the Frank Black-inspired, curtain-closing minor chords of "Across the Sea."
As has been the case since Ben Horin’s solo debut (2012’s Distant Lover album), each tightly edited track provides a welcome contrast to the wild and wooly records of Useless ID without sounding like a scrapped MTV Unplugged shoot.
"I try to take my solo material as far away from punk as I can," explains Ben Horin, "so I don't just sound like a punk singer playing chords on an acoustic guitar. I leave room for any influence that may enter and just let it happen."
That explains why the album’s title track features sun-baked Springsteen vibes and a fierce solo from Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins, while "Leopard" reflects the female perspective of rock ‘n’ roll icon Joan Jett. (It was originally written for Jett, but that ultimately fell through.)
"My solo albums kind of write themselves," says Ben Horin. "That's what I like about them; I’ve learned to not only listen with my ears, but with my gut as well. If something feels off, I'll address it right up until we print the record."
Young Forever track list:
- Back to the Start
- In Between the Highs and Lows
- Young Forever (ft. Jim Adkins)
- Here With Me
- Santa Monica Pier
- Boy with Glasses
- Pessimistic Heart
- Across the Sea