Men's Style (Australia) - - Contents -

Gang Of Youths have mined per­sonal tra­vails for a rich cre­ative vein

If you’ve ever won­dered what Syd­ney quin­tet Gang of Youths do to numb the bore­dom while on the road, right now, at the tailend of a 10-date U.S. tour, it boils down to two things. The first is to binge on Lore, a pod­cast about “the fright­en­ing his­tory be­hind folk­lore”. The other, says front­man Dave Le’au­pepe, is to “mock each other mer­ci­lessly un­til we fall asleep”. Both, he shrugs, do the trick.

Right now, on a balmy Thurs­day evening in June, the singer is sit­ting by a food truck in the hip Los An­ge­les neigh­bour­hood of Echo Park, tuck­ing into a veg­e­tar­ian bur­rito a block away from tonight’s venue, the 350-ca­pac­ity The Echo. It’s the fi­nal show of their Amer­i­can tour, af­ter which the band will splin­ter – Le’au­pepe to visit his part­ner in New York, the re­main­ing mem­bers (gui­tarist Joji Malani, bassist Max Dunn, key­boardist/ gui­tarist Jung Kim and drum­mer Don­nie Borzestowski) to their newly adopted home of Lon­don. This short run of dates serves as a pre­lude of sorts to the re­lease of their sec­ond al­bum, Go Far­ther In Light­ness, which comes three years af­ter their 2014 Top 5 de­but, The Po­si­tions.

Never ones to shy away from life’s head­ier top­ics, their de­but tack­led Le’au­pepe’s jour­ney as he nursed his then-wife through cancer and, later, dealt with the break­down of that re­la­tion­ship and his is­sues with men­tal health, set to a sound that com­bined Spring­steen’s sto­ry­telling with the ram­shackle at­tack of the Re­place­ments and U2’s sta­dium am­bi­tions. Go Far­ther In Light­ness is what hap­pens when you’ve had to re­build your world.

“In terms of con­cept the record is about heal­ing, it’s about empathy, and it’s about learning how to be a per­son,” says Le’au­pepe in his deep bari­tone. “It’s about be­com­ing a hu­man be­ing. It’s try­ing to con­dense the vast ar­ray of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences and emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence that I was ex­posed to [since the last al­bum].”

Weigh­ing in at just un­der 80 min­utes, Go Far­ther in Light­ness is one of the most am­bi­tious al­bums ever to emanate from Aus­tralia. A dou­ble al­bum di­vided into four move­ments, each is split by a mu­si­cal in­ter­lude named af­ter the psy­cho­an­a­lytic con­cepts of French psy­cho­an­a­lyst and psy­chi­a­trist Jac­ques La­can – “L’imag­i­naire”, “Le Sym­bol­ique” and “Le Reel” – of whose work Le’au­pepe is a big fan. Lyri­cally, the singer veers be­tween top­ics rang­ing from the death of a close friend’s baby to the ques­tion­ing of the Chris­tian faith with which he was raised, to his fear of lov­ing again af­ter his di­vorce. It may sound like a slog, but the al­bum is shot through with an op­ti­mism borne out of a de­sire to make the most of our lim­ited time on this earth. It all comes to a rous­ing fi­nale with closer “Say Yes To Life”, a song charged through with the kind of adren­a­line that Le’au­pepe found in­tox­i­cat­ing as a trou­bled child grow­ing up in Syd­ney.

“Hear­ing [hard­core punk band] Go­rilla Bis­cuits the first time, hear­ing Bro­ken So­cial scene the first time, it was like elec­tric­ity,” he says. “It’s like a mo­ment of pri­mal, un­du­lat­ing de­sire for spirit. Ja­pan­droids put it well – they talk about the punk’s guitar breath­ing life into a sunken body at the back of the bar. The thun­der of the punk’s guitar. A shot of life. It is the thing that makes you feel alive,” he smiles.

“In terms of con­cept the record is about heal­ing, it’s about empathy, and it’s about learning how to be a per­son,” Dave Le’au­pepe

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