Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Auckland City Limits: Aussie band Gang of Youths ready to rock ACL

Rising Aussie band Gang of Youths brings its cathartic tunes to town.
Gang of Youths will be performing at Auckland City Limits.
Gang of Youths will be performing at Auckland City Limits.

Gang of Youths are on a roll. One of the few Australian acts appearing at this weekend's Auckland City Limits, the Sydney band fronted by David Le'aupepe had a very big year across the Tasman with the release of debut album The Positions.

It debuted in the Aussie top 10, got glowing reviews and took the band up a few levels on the local live circuit.

"This time last year we couldn't sell out a 200-capacity room and now in Australia, you know, it's a 2000-capacity room we're selling out," says Le'aupepe as he strolls on the streets of Sydney's inner western suburbs.

But by the sounds of the album - which has sweeping echoes of The National, U2, Springsteen, the Strokes and more - the band appears set on playing increasingly bigger venues.

As the gregarious Le'aupepe says, they aren't exactly humble in their musical ambitions.

"We're not some f***ing slacker, jangle-drone, garage rock band full or irony and self-deprecation. We're not an ultra-cool monochromatic electro band. I don't know really where we fit. We kind of make emotional, very highly literate, indie music ..."

Aside from its wide-horizon sound, the album arrived with quite a back story. Le'aupepe's songs came inspired by upheavals in his personal life - a failed marriage to a woman diagnosed with cancer. He had written them as therapy.

The band, which includes former Hamiltonian Max Dunn on bass, formed around him in 2012. After some of the early songs started gaining traction on radio and online, the band signed to Sony.

Eventually, Positions finally emerged and its cathartic songs started to connect to a growing fanbase. "I think people just wanted to feel something or feel a lot of things and we made a record full of feelings. I think the audience cared because we cared. Maybe that's part of it."

It probably helps that the five-piece have the evidently enigmatic big-voiced big personality Le'aupepe as frontman, though he claims that despite his chosen career, he's shy.

"I am a deeply private introverted person. I am one of the band members who doesn't talk much, but I feel like I am the only person who can talk about the art with as much passion and fervour and enthusiasm that it deserves."

And after such a sadly auspicious start to his songwriting career, what next?

"I don't know. I'll write some shitty political album and fade off into obscurity," he laughs "I think I am going to spend the rest of my life looking for another tragedy."

Who: Gang of Youths
When and where: ACL Spark 1 Stage, 12.30pm
Also: Bodega, Wellington, Friday, March 18

- TimeOut

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