interview stuff: GANG OF YOUTHS

playing schubas in chicago, june 5th // north american tour dates

reppin: sydney // mosy/sony records // 2012 - present

sounds like: (David’s words) A highly unorganized game of baseball where Bruce Springsteen gets stabbed in the head with a fork by Martin Heidegger.

 gang of youths | photo cred: maclay heriot

gang of youths | photo cred: maclay heriot

next album drop: “go farther in lightness” (august 18th 2017)

featuring: max // jung // david // joji // donnie

All music is special in some shape, way or form and part of that beauty is how that differs from person to person, band to band and genre to genre. One thing hold true at the core of that all: it makes you feel something. Happy or sad, good or bad, love or hate, music allows us to expand our emotions; go to a place of reflection or simply put a smile on our face when it is most needed. That moment when music relates to back to life unfolds has a feeling that in my mind is unmatched. Gang Of Youths does all those things for me. Over the span of one of their 6 minute songs I can get those feels, reflect back to certain moments in my life as well as dream of the future.

 Hailing from Sydney and currently residing in London, they have never stopped melting faces since their debut, The Positions, in 2013. The album opens with the 7+ minute “Vital Signs,” a slow and smooth build up that, like the title of the song, reaches out in search of your life line. As you move through such tracks as “Poison Drum,” “Radioface,” “Magnolia” and “Overpass,” you are told a different story, all of which move you up and down the bandwidth of emotion. Their follow up EP was Let Me Be Clear in 2016, which opens with the beautiful ballad that is “The Good Fight.” To me a song of almost giving up, but doing whatever you can to hang on. That brings us to the present moment as the boys embark on the US and are hitting some cities for the first time, including Chicago: june 5th @ schubas.

 There is a reason these dudes were my first ever post on Faake Hipster. A sound that spans the spectrum of rock n’ roll while carrying emotion on the shoulders. Short off coming back to London from Norway, take a dive into an humbling and enlightening chat. The laughs, the sadness and the good fucking times to come.

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interview stuff

The way you all blend rock n’ roll and sprinkle it with some pop and even some soul...to me it is powerful. Your music allows me to free my mind in a few different ways, especially those longer ballads. What is the process to make that sound your own?

 gang of youths | mercury lounge, nyc | 6.9.16 | @thefaakehipster

gang of youths | mercury lounge, nyc | 6.9.16 | @thefaakehipster

It took a long long time of playing in bands and figuring out what works man. Shed through a lot of to get there man, figuring out the construct of songs. The central radio format is now is the one that typifies how songwriters write these days, confined to those structures. It's formula and nothing more. The idea that something can be too long is a fucking subjective, nonsensical idea as if there is a superior standard to how long a song can be. The notion you can limit the amount of enjoyment one individual derives from a piece of music and compartmentalize it into a 3 or 4 minute song, that is a pretentious thought. You can distill an entire array of creative thoughts and you must in order for it to be good, that is an awful paradigm that I just don’t subscribe to it. Rather I write songs that are as long as they need to be and use my gut instincts.I tend to feel it out now as I used to be finicky and meticulous and with The Position, I realized how absurd the idea of not letting songs couldn’t breathe.

me: The longer songs...it is almost lets the imagination run, and it’s something special

That’s exactly right man. I believe in that. I want the listener to subscribe to every moment in our music, every passage of lyricism, every section. I want them to associate that with a moment, a time in their life and have that relationship grow. That’s how my relationship Sonic Youth, Stage Nation. Every song has association to my life. The sounds, the lyrics, the guitars...they shaped me, they  got me thing. I am a real believer in having the audience in having the time and space to do that. Some songs are meant for that, some aren’t.

me: For me, growing up in the punk rock scene, you wanted those short burst of energy to fight that teenage angst.

Yea man, I was in a hardcore punk band growing up, playing bass. I was always part of that world. For me the ambition came when I realized punk rock was a way for me to shed tropes. To become the realization of what I wanted to be. Punk rock, like any other genre, has tropes of it within itself. Why am i limiting the It really doesn’t make a lot of sense. So i think the process is trying to unlock the moments of beauty in songs and let them sit for listeners. Not rush them and give them a nice well constructed melodic context. They aren’t crowded with too much other shit. I’m still figuring it out though, not sure if I am communicating ideas effectively.

me: Isn’t that kind of the beauty of this. Does it have to be communicated effectively, or does it just have to be put out there?

I dunno man, I’m struggling. I’m not sure if what the point of art is in this post-truth society. Everything has this dance-hall, trappy sound underneath it, then I really don’t to do it all the time. That make sense? That’s not the direct point of what I am trying to make, music is supposed to evolve, but sometimes I just think, what is the point.

 gang of youths | the knitting factory, brooklyn | 6.12.16 | @thefaakehipster

gang of youths | the knitting factory, brooklyn | 6.12.16 | @thefaakehipster

me: Maybe this leads to something good...because of the climate, other bullshit happening in the world. Maybe we are in a time that will bring some positive resistance.

Yea, you know we can be the correction, can be the antithesis. But yea, that is kind of my process. I used to in this 10 step process and I don’t know anymore.

 

David, your past is really the only one out of all your band buds that I found out there. You have gone to hell and back (not a religious reference haha) as I’m sure all of you have had the good and bad happen over the years. How have these past experiences helped with you growing individually and as a band?

Hmmm, individually. Sometimes I honestly feel I’ve regressed. I don’t think I’m any different than I used to be, I just think I’ve greater resilience and greater degree of coping mechanisms that are healthier. I’m better equipped to manage...and mostly not married to a dying girl. She did pass away three months ago. That is something that is something I’m figuring out how to navigate. I didn’t really speak with her really at the end there.

me: Fuck, I’m really sorry to hear that. Was it that you were just trying to survive and stay san

 gang of youths | mercury lounge, nyc | 6.9.16 | @thefaakehipster

gang of youths | mercury lounge, nyc | 6.9.16 | @thefaakehipster

Look, it had to be this way. I needed to not be in contact with her. It was important to me because I feel like I possibly deserved a chance to move forward. You know I was this faithful fucking husband for awhile and then your world comes crashing down and I was just in a place that I should not have been in.

me: Shit man, I didn’t mean to bring up such a bad time.

Naw man, it’s all good.

me: You know it makes me think about interviewing James Alex of Beach Slang and his lyric, “I need the struggle to feel alive.” It certainly takes time for all these things to make sense.

It’s actually starting to make sense now.I think if i had to really to sum up how I’ve changed and how I’ve grown, I’m not a fucking idiot when it comes to dealing with my shit anymore. I believe that I have more to say than I’m sad and my wife is dying. These moments though are certainly the catalyst for all the work. It’s not all shit stuff, sometimes there is good stuff out there.

 

Those experiences can translate into really beautiful lyrics, something I treasure when it comes to finding bands I like. How do you hope new fans take those words in an interpret them? What do you want that new kid to get out of it?

I want people to find the realist and most human thing to say because that is all I have to give them. It’s a trite thing to say, you know. I just want them to know that I really do care about my lyrics. For the most part I’m documenting what is going on in my head for future reference. I don’t want to die with my life unexamined, unexplored and unexpressed. I grew up in this environment where people were repressed for saying what they thought and they couldn’t express their true thoughts. It’s cookie-cutter and sub-labeled by culture. Be authentic about the anxiety, be authentic about the good shit too. I just want to say stuff in way that sounds pretty. There is this fucking bullshit attitude, especially in indie rock where it’s frowned upon to use this poetic bend in lyrics, which is not cool. It’s so fucking stupid...flared jeans, white sunglasses, Chuck Taylor bullshit man. It’s a way for the middle class to subordinate the working class who is aspiring for more. I really have a chip on my shoulder when I see all these white kids playing indie rock and taking up every leftist cause they can, without giving you shit about the left and what we working kids gave them. For me, my attitude towards making things sounds and appear beautiful is deeply related to this desire to be who I am, authentic.

me: You know part of why I do this, explore new music, is that I really think a lot of people out there have this place in them to relate to authentic lyrics, go beyond what is spoon-fed to them. It’s just more unexplored or hasn’t been tapped into yet.

 gang of youths | the knitting factory, brooklyn | 6.12.16 | @thefaakehipster

gang of youths | the knitting factory, brooklyn | 6.12.16 | @thefaakehipster

Yea, there is a sense that we are being manipulated into dummying ourselves down through the lens of culture. We have sayings that...I dunno what I am trying to say, I am just a bit testy and frustrated by the state of it, especially indie rock. People are in this grand delusion that indie rock is going to make a comeback and I don’t believe it. I think that people with guitars have made enough of an ass of themselves to last 6 fucking millennia. I’ve said this in our press release for the new record...this is music that is meaningful and there to connect with people on a different level. We are putting effort into it, not just some apathetic bullshit, something with light. I mean look at Kendrick..Camp Cope, you heard of them, Jared. Aussie three piece band. They are 3 women from Melbourne and they make very enlightened, beautiful, DIY kind of music. Sorry about the rant by the way, I just flew in from Norway and am feeling extra honest.

me: Fuck yea, that’s what I want. Feed me the truth.

Find realist and human thing to think. Don’t want to die without exploring

 

So dude, this is more of a statement. I told you this when we met in Brooklyn around this time last year...I caught your live show at the Mercury Lounge and Knitting Factory. It is fun, emotional...I can feel the emotions coming out during songs and the stories in between. The way I felt after, I have never wanted to bang someone so bad...what do you hope new fans can get our of your set?

(David laughs super deep) I remember that! What I want to be on stage is an amplified version of how I feel in the inside. I just want to magnify my desire to connect with people in the audience and I really didn’t know how to until recently. I really don’t pick up on social cues to well, I go on long self-indulgent rants to keep people interested. Being on stage is my way of expressing a kind of camaraderie with the audience and deconstructing that bullshit fake relationship between artist and consumer. I want to try and reestablish some kind of intimacy with another human being through the music. That shit is fucking fun dude. That thought of me saying the lyric and seeing them all smile and feel signifiant on this simple, deplorable, horrible rock is the most beautiful thing to me. It’s such a simple gesture. To look at someone with a desire to make the humanity known to me. To me, in that moment, everyone has a place in my world.

me: Dude, this is why I go to 3-4 concerts a week

 gang of youths | the knitting factory, brooklyn | 6.12.16 | @thefaakehipster

gang of youths | the knitting factory, brooklyn | 6.12.16 | @thefaakehipster

Fuck yea. Remember in the hardcore scene back in the day. You didn’t have this feeling of being accepted until you were in this moshpit. That was first experience I felt accepted.

 

Shameless advertising time! What’s ahead this summer upon the release of “Go Farther In Lightness” - due out August 18th in Australia, probably soon after in the US. You have 16 songs, interludes, what else do you want to tell the folks?

(Laughs). I think I’m just going to try and compartmentalize 2 years of dread, honesty, healing into 16 tracks. There is a lot philosophy in trying to convey the helpful messages I learned from my heroes. Also, I feel like the questions I am asking won’t be answered in this lifetime, but I convey my desire to attempt to get them answered. Furthermore my excitement and willingness to embrace such a short life is kind of what I want to do. I want to speak to the forgotten people. You know we have a great following in Australia, but not really elsewhere in the world yet. It kind of makes us the underdog and I love the story of the underdog. You know, living in this slighted morality, but haven’t realized their full potential yet.

I always use funny metaphors to describe bands and artists i write about, what would you use?

A highly unorganized game of baseball where Bruce Springsteen gets stabbed in the head with a fork by Martin Heidegger. Then they descend into a bench clearing brawl and nobody wins. Blood, sweat, dicks and vaginas, tears and all of this stuff just thrown in there.

me: David, it has been a pleasure. I love your music, it channels my emotion and thank you for making it.

Dude, this is fucking great man, we can’t wait to come to Chicago and I’m so glad I got to do your interview.

 

suggested listening experience: going anywhere to somewhere // alone, in your apartment screaming the lyrics out // outdoor bbq on a sunny ass day

listens: atlas drowned // let me down easy // what can i do if the fire goes out // native tongue // the good fight // magnolia // radioface // poison drum // vital signs // restraint & release

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