By Wal Reid
Gang of Youths are an Australian indie rock group formed by Max Dunn on bass guitar, Jung Kim on guitar and keyboards, David Le'aupepe on lead vocals and piano, Joji Malani on lead guitar and Dom Borszestowski on drums. Their debut album, The Positions, peaked at No. 5 on the ARIA Albums Chart in May 2015. Wal Reid caught up with lead singer David Le’aupepe before their debut New Zealand gig at Bodega in Wellington tonight, and then Auckland City Limits this Saturday.
Stellar line up at Auckland City Limits, if you could who would you like to do a colab with?
Fuck I don’t know. I’m terrible collaborating. Yeah, As much as I like to I don’t think it would be a fruitful thing. I’m either not assertive enough or kind of overly precious about things, I can never find middle ground. I’d be a terrible collaborator. I don’t even know who’s on the bill, I’m stupid I’m sorry.
Who do you admire as a song writer?
I’d probably deal with Nergal Garski (Behemoth) because I‘ve always wanted to do a Death Metal project. They released The Satanist in 2014, it’s just a really fucking great album, one of the best heavy albums I’ve ever heard in my whole life. It’s cohesive, beautiful, terrifying & evil sounding. He was also going through cancer at the time.
I’ve just looked at your Wikipedia...
Do we have a Wikipedia? That’s like a weird fucking thing to happen. Sorry, what was the question mate?
I read you went through a separation from your wife and contemplated suicide
I actually made it past contemplating and attempted, that’s what the song Magnolia is about.
Your songs deal with the dark side or personal side of your life?
I feel this music needs to reflect all sides of my life. I think I focus on the darker parts because it’s like a ‘Phoenix out of the ashes’ type configuration from it. I like the idea of making music out of burgeoning tragedies and horrible thing. In terms of the creativity, the music needs to be in tune to my life, my experiences, my philosophies, to my outlook. It needs to be distinctly tied to my worldview or otherwise it doesn’t have the emotional layer impact I desire it to have.
Drawing on personal experience can be a powerful release
I’m a firm believer in full disclosure when it comes to making art. Some people are able to make music with fantastic frivolities that are fun and engaging for people, I’m unable to do so. I fully have this really fucked up relationship with music, it’s both the bane of my life and my saviour. It’s my confessional booth as well as my escapism. Perhaps there’s a complexity that exists as far as my relationship as a result of consciously annotating the permutations of my life through this medium.
How many takes did you do for walking down the street in your video for your song Magnolia?
It was three degrees and I was walking around in my tee shirt. That was a fun time. I like dancing, I think the relationship between me and dance is a tentative strange awkward one. But I like to embrace my swinging hips, gyrations are important.
You just have to go for it, I mean look at Drake in Hotline Bling!
He’s a bad dancer though, but he owns it, I can respect that. He dances like my Uncle Max who’s a bikie
You’re right, no one says that Drake dances like an uncle
No one wants to say Drake’s a fucked up dancer and be accused of being an internet troll. I like Drake’s music, he just can’t dance and it’s endearing and he’s now dancing for 500 million people on YouTube
Spontaneous dance, you got to have do it. Even on your video for Magnolia
Well the Beyoncé thing wasn’t spontaneous it was premeditated. I decided in each of our video clips I need to make one reference to one of Beyoncé’s dance moves like Crazy In Love
Man, can she dance, and she goes out with that ‘guy’
She’s married and has children to that ‘guy’. To be fair, Jay Z in his own right is one of the most influential black musicians of the 20th century. But yeah, c’mon Beyoncé you can do better
I think so
She could have gone for a Denzel you know but she went for a Jay Z.
They’re building an empire (laughter) What are you looking forward to doing when you come over here, do you have family or friends in NZ?
It’s funny all these questions come to me because Max our bass player is born and raised in Hamilton. He’s the most patriotic New Zealander ever, he wears a fucken All Blacks shirt in his sleep. He’s so into New Zealand, I don’t know maybe we’ll look at green rolling hills and pretend to be Hobbits (laughter).
We can’t wait to see you live – The album 'The Positions' how’s it doing?
I don’t know how its doing because its another focus and I tend to get obsessed with that, get insecure etc. we’ve been touring lots.
Good to hear your heart behind the Wikipedia blurb
I’m going to go edit that shit, is there a photo? I was aware it was up there but I haven’t checked it for a long time – I would be so scared if there was a photo!
Gang Of Youths
Friday March 18th: Bodega, Wellington - Tickets via Ticketek
Auckland City Limits - Saturday March 19th: Western Springs, Auckland - Tickets via Auckland City Limits