Gang of Youth

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After an unexpected completely sold out tour, Gang of Youths are kicking off again around Australia. front man Dave talks life and music with FOCUS …

What are your earliest memories of music and how did that progress to where you are now?

Man … umm, probably breast milk? I dunno … I vaguely remember my family taking me to church and seeing the drummer and being really infatuated with the drums, but I think in terms of like a formative memory, my sister used to scoop me up out of bed when were little – I would’ve been around 7 or 8 – and we’d sit in front of the TV and watch Rage. So, watching Rage really late on a Friday night – my sister really loved Madonna when she was a kid – I saw a lot on Rage that I learnt to appreciate later in life. I very, very visually remember the Born to Run video by Bruce Springsteen – the 1987 tour video that he did.

The way you perform your lyrics is quite emotionally poetic, with some very deep topics covered throughout this album. What is it that drives you to write so honestly and with such conviction?

There are enough cowards in the world to last us through to the 6th Millennium. If I’m going to make art, if I’m going to make anything, I’m going to do it honestly with the conviction of my heart and my soul.

I can’t of do anything half arsed, just as a general rule; I’m really bad at it. And to express the fullness of what’s going on in my heart and in my head is kind of, I suppose, my calling … There are others who aren’t called to do that with their lives, but I suppose it’s just what I find myself really enjoying.

And I like the tension, I like drama, I like the banter, I like the dialogue and exchange with artists and consuming what happens when there’s full disclosure … When there are no limitations, when it’s uninhibited – a visceral connection to the music. I think there’s one thing to write honestly, but it’s another thing entirely to write with conviction, to write with gusto. And I suppose in my formative years learning how to love music and learning how to love the art form, I was confronted with people who had conviction, who lived a long, crazy life and died broke, or kept pushing the boundaries. I think that was pretty important to me – to learn how to do that with absolute dire conviction.

You’ve recently finished up a sold out nationwide tour; you must be pretty chuffed with yourselves…

Yeah, that was fun; it was really fun. No one gave a s**t about us three months ago; it was totally wild. I think with us though, doing a sold out tour was really surprising and pleasant, but I don’t think we derived too much meaning from it. It was fun, we got to spend a lot of time with strangers, make new friends, and that was cool. But we don’t really… I mean, they’re all platitudes to us; they’re just things to write in our PR statement.

I think I should probably put more emphasis on the achievement itself, but I think it’s kind of lost on us, because we were chugging away for three years with no one giving a s**t about us, and suddenly like – wow. It’s good, it’s really fun, but hasn’t really hit us yet.

And you’re just about to kick of again on another tour this time, visiting a lot of regional places this time – which is exciting for us. What are you looking forward to the most about continuing on from that last tour and going to some of those places you’ve probably haven’t performed before?

Well, it’s some places I’ve never been before, so that’s pretty cool. I think one of the things I hated about touring previously, is that I didn’t get to spend time in any different new places; it was always the same thing – especially when you’re in this country – but there’s an element of surprise waiting for me, I suppose, and I’m pretty interested in that. I’m pretty excited.

If you were to think of three of your favourite songs of all time, what would they be and why?

You don’t make it easy on me! Place to Be, by Nick Drake: it’s resigned, it’s hopeful but resigned, and it’s estranged and there’s a pain there that exists. It’s sort of reflected most of his life, and he’s cashed it in in two and a half minutes, which is the true genius of what Nick Drake was. It’s not complicated or complex – that’s number one of my favourite songs.

Umm … Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen … No, actually I’ll change that to Disorder by Joy Division … It was Ian Curtis’s maturity coming out before he, you know … He was mature before his years. Sonically, I think that’s one of the best songs they ever produced. I love the guitar sound in it; I’ve been hunting for that guitar sound for 10 years. I think it’s a really powerful, powerful song.

And number three – I think I really love Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell, the 2002 version, the orchestration – I think it’s the voice of a woman who’s seen life, and I like her voice a bit jazzier and deeper. I think the arrangement’s perfect; it’s nice to hear the heart of a woman who’s famous for sharing with everybody, and it just feels so intimate. These are all my three favourites right now. I think I have one more, and that’s Rain and Blood by Slayer, just that riff – that’s my extra one.

What are your future visions and goals for Gang of Youths after this tour?

I have to figure out what I’m going to do after this album, in terms of the creative concept, I suppose. How do you follow up the most original album concept ever? I don’t know; I’ll have to find some other great tragedies before me, I suppose; I have to figure out what I’m going to write about, who I’m going to write about and what that means to me, what the album is going to sound like. I’m going to try and spend the next three years trying to figure it out; I don’t have any other immediate plans, ‘cause I’m not good at making them or keeping them.

Any words of wisdom to share with our readers?

Don’t be a coward.

And lastly, where can we follow you guys?

Facebook and instagram are the best way to follow us around.

Thanks Dave.


Plug: See Gang of Youths on Thursday 13 Aug 2015, 8pm, at Port Macquarie Panthers.

7:40pm | Show 8pm

Pre-Sale $20 | Door $25.

This article was from issue 117 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus.

This article was from issue 117 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus.

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