Gang Of Youths have simply exploded in the past twelve months and tomorrow they release debut album The Positions, so Jess tried to get to know lead singer/songwriter David Le’aupepe a little better.
Because this album is so involved with your personal experiences, why do you think it is so important to share those emotions and feelings to an audience?
I was always drawn to vulnerability and full disclosure in the music I loved growing up – passion is contagious and sadly also a virtue becoming systematically less important as we evolve as a species. I needed to fill a void in my own life, so much of me felt like contributing to the artistic conversation with the shit going on in my world was important. Catharsis my friends. Nothing but straight fucking catharsis.
How do you think the relationship between you and your band members has developed in the 10 years you have been together?
We all felt out of place and strange in our respect contexts, so as tweens we banded together, united by our shared sense of discontent and this weird strangeness. It’s odd to love one person madly for a decade – to love three whom in turn love you is something else entirely.
The lyrics to your songs are so raw and, at times, overpowering. ‘Poison Drum’ in particular makes me feel like I’m reading a snippet out of an Ernest Hemingway novel. What is your process when it comes to writing lyrics?
Holy shit you have earned yourself one very grateful hug for that. For most of my life I’ve been besotted with the cadence and rhythm of the English language – its innate musicality is so fucking exciting to me. My process is entrenched in a desire to write conversational lyrics avoiding tropes or clichés primarily because I don’t want to listen back to anything and cringe at it. I like finding simple and confessional poetry in the terrible and the exciting and even the benign.
If you guys were not making music, what do you think you would be doing?
In my dreams? Probably playing baseball. In reality? Probably begging for change, imbibing lukewarm turpentine on a street corner.
How do you prepare yourselves for a live performance? Is it important to have an interaction with your punters?
We have a very secret and methodical pre-game tradition. Live music as an artform is one that I strongly believe is democratic – a communion of sorts between artists and consumer where nobody is better than anybody. Interaction with humans wanting to interact with us is paramount to our operation.
You have had a wonderful reception from overseas followers/fans. How does it feel to be recognised internationally?
Hahahaha it’s fucking weird because I write all most of these songs in my underpants. This is proof of the power of the internet.
What should we expect from Gang of Youths in the future?
Goddamn. I don’t have a clue but hopefully I’ll be dating Helen Mirren by album number two. That’s right. Helen Mirren.
Gimme a call Helen Mirren.
How does it feel to have completed your debut album? Is it daunting or exciting to be releasing the LP so soon?
We “completed” the album five times before actually completing the fucking thing, so it’s exciting to finally release something we thought may not have a chance of coming out. All of the attention is scary but that just comes with the territory of doing what we do.
Lastly, a fun little question. Imagine if, in a parallel universe, Gang of Youths were an actual gang. What kind of crimes/delinquent behaviour do you think your doppelgängers would get into?
I like to imagine that in this parallel GOY are not a ragtag and ramshackle collective of substance abusing misfits but a fearless entity of street warriors and class soldiers tearing away at the very fabric of our civilised western consciousness by drawing dicks on garage doors in permanent marker and yelling ‘FUCK THA POLICE’ and running when passing a police station.
Gang Of Youths are launching The Positions touring nationally in May:
Friday May 15th – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
Saturday May 16th – Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane
Friday May 22nd – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Sunday May 24th – The Exeter Beer Garden, Adelaide
Friday May 29th – Jimmy’s Den, Perth
Saturday May 30th – Mojos Bar, Fremantle