From Sydney to stardom: Aussie band Gang of Youths reveals how to put on a good show

From Sydney to stardom: Aussie band Gang of Youths reveals how to put on a good show

As ambitious indie-rockers Gang of Youths break the mainstream, they open up about a life-changing guitar and why performing means so much to them

It takes something special for a band to sell out a string of 23 tour dates - even if that is in their home country, Australia.

Young Post caught up with Gang of Youths - vocalist and guitarist David Leaupepe, Joji Malani on guitar, Samuel O'Donnell on drums, bassist Max Dunn, and guitarist and keyboardist Jung Kim - when they played in Hong Kong for House of Vans' event this month.

Leaupepe began by explaining just how much playing live means to them: "It's an interaction between audience and artists. It's also a conversation that exchanges ideas and emotions," the singer says.

It may sound clichéd, but all members give 100 per cent, regardless of the size of the show.

"It doesn't matter if it's a small or big show, an audience of 20 or 2,000, everyone tries to bring something special to the show and be the best as they can," says O'Donnell.

They understand that a small gig can be just as influential as a large concert. Take the English band, Joy Division, a key source of inspiration for Gang of Youths.

"Joy Division famously performed their first gig in Manchester [in England] for only 20 people. But they became one of the most influential rock bands of all time. That's enough to encourage those who want to be a musician to keep going," says Leaupepe.

For them, performing is all about the fans' reactions. "The people coming to watch you are the reason why we do it. If you had a guest at your house, you would serve your best food and do whatever for them," says Malani.

Onstage, the bandmates express themselves through their instruments. This is especially important for Leaupepe, who says guitars give him power to be wild and defiant. "The guitar gave me a youthful understanding of what rebellion was. What it was to be authentic, real and terrified of the world. It's more than just a stage prop or instrument," he explains.

Kim was also drawn to the power of guitars, which "became sort of an avenue," he says.

"I was very introverted and the guitar brings out a side of me people never expected. I don't care whether they like it or not."

Released in April, Gang of Youths' debut The Position hit number five on Australia's Aria Charts. The band agrees Magnolia is the most powerful track on the record because "it talks about difficult situations and there's authority behind it," Leaupepe says.

The band also experimented with different sounds on their album. "We're not going to try and replicate what we've done. Constant change is really important to us.

"That's why the Beatles are so great. They always created a hopeless place to write from. Every time when they created something, it's progressive and relative," says Malani.

And Gang of Youths advises aspiring bands to be themselves.

"Make music that means something to you. Create what you want, not what the world wants. People are drawn to sincerity," says Leaupepe.

"Too many people try to create music to fit in. It's off-putting to see someone change their image every two or three years."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
True to themselves

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