GANG OF YOUTHS
Sydney rockers Gang Of Youths have become one of Australia’s biggest and best bands over the past 2 years. With their sophomore album coming out this week and getting close to going on their biggest Australian tour to date, Gang Of Youths definitely isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In this chat with AMNplify, bassist Max Dunn discusses their new album, Go Farther In Lightness, touring all around the world, and more!
I’ve seen Gang of Youths go from playing a small record shop to Metro Theatre, to Enmore Theatre and then the huge Hordern Pavillion in a month or so. Does this constant growth intimidate you guys or are you just really stoked about it?
We’re certainly not intimidated by it. We are sober about it. Our live show means more to us than it does to anyone else. We always want it to sound better, look better, feel better. So from that point of view, the growth is a challenge and an opportunity. I think we all just wanna get home and play our souls out.
Your debut album, The Positions (and then Let Me Be Clear as well) got a great reception, did following up to that ever feel daunting?
Oh, man, we are truly grateful for the people that loved that record and connected with our story. David had a period of writer’s block afterwards. I think there was a general feeling amongst the band of, ‘Wow, ok. now we gotta follow up the cancer record.’ A big responsibility. It’s like anything though, you just have to start. David always writes out of his own humanity, whether that is the healing he is undertaking, his sweeping love for philosophy, or his anger at the Trump ascendancy. Dave and Joji did a trip to LA, got back and we all just committed to Dave’s songs and the whole vision and then worked the music together, one foot in front of the other stuff you know?
The Positions dealt with some huge topics – cancer, suicide, a break-up, alcohol etc. Will Go Farther In Lightness be similar or will it have some more positive undertones?
I’ve always thought The Positions had an overarching sense of hope amidst the carnage that that period was for David and the rest of us. Maybe if The Positions was about holding onto hope and the people you have around you in the middle of tragedy, Go Farther In Lightness is about looking directly into the uncertainty and mortality of life and deciding to overcome. To remain human and open. I don’t think it’s more positive because I think both records are underpinned by a reverence for hope, loyalty and courage.
You seem to be constantly on the road, you just finished up a US tour and after Australia, you’re touring Europe! Do you have much of a chance to explore the cities you’re playing or do you not have much spare time while touring?
That aspect of the tour life can be enormously frustrating. You’ll drive past the most magnificent waterfall off some interstate in Oregon and it’d be like 15minutes extra to stop and dive in, but you gotta make soundcheck. On the flip side, it is a pretty special way to see the world. There is no pressure. You’re not thinking, ‘We have to see and experience everything!’. You are more just grateful you are in that place as part of your job and so it’s a relaxed appreciation or what you can see kinda feeling. An example of this might be the fact that in our first time in Paris we spent most of the only afternoon we had there throwing a footy on this one street haha.
Which song/s off the new album are you most excited to see be released?
Say Yes To Life is triumphant. I think a lot of people will find a special connection and inspiration from what is probably the most challenging song on the record, Achilles Come Down.
I’ve seen so much praise for your live shows, can you give us a hint of what we should expect from the upcoming tour?
As cliche as it is I’ll have to refer you to the first rule of fight club.
2/5 of the band recently played a show at The Landsdowne Hotel and I heard it was packed. Which do you prefer – playing intimate shows like that gig, or playing to thousands of people?
I honestly don’t know if I can pick one or the other meaningfully. Any opportunity to play is special. The beauty of the intimate shows is hard to top. Weird things can happen, there are a lot of laughs and friends made. Nonetheless, there is an electricity to thousands of people singing along, and getting to take them on a journey throughout a set. Gonna sit on the fence with that one.
What musicians or records have inspired you lately?
We all saw Broken Social Scene play the Brixton O2 together. We all kinda just agreed it was the best show we’d ever seen. Hug Of Thunder is actually pretty special too. It has been pretty neat living in London and getting to experience music out here. Donnie is perpetually at some doggone jazz jam night somewhere, Dave and I just bought tickets to see the brilliant Torres in November. My mind was completely blown by London’s (made up of Australians) The Graveltones, watching them I wasn’t sure whether to practice ten hours a day for the rest of my life or just quit, you know? Haha. Then there is Greater City, Great Love by Fountaineer.
AMNplify – BD
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- Cath Connell