Gang of Youths
Led by the poetic intensity of singer and songwriter Dave Le'aupepe, indie rock quintet Gang of Youths formed in Sydney, Australia in 2012. Just out of high school and citing Sonic Youth, the Replacements, early U2, and Leonard Cohen among his influences, Le'aupepe and friends from school and church -- lead guitarist Joji Malani, guitarist/keyboardist Jung Kim, bass player Max Dunn, and drummer Donnie Borzestowski -- released their first single, "Evangelists," in 2013. It was picked up by radio, and buzz surrounding the band spread quickly. Gang of Youths started their own label, Mosy Recordings, and Le'aupepe began writing a set of songs motivated by a lung cancer diagnosis for his then fiancée as well as his own subsequent battles with substance abuse and depression. In late 2013, the band headed to New York to record with producer Kevin McMahon (Real Estate, Titus Andronicus) before finishing tracking in Sydney. They soon played festivals including South by Southwest and accepted invitations to open for acts such as Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, and Manchester Orchestra. The resulting album, The Positions, was released in the spring of 2015 on Mosy in partnership with Sony Music. It became a Top Five album in Australia and led to five ARIA nominations.
While Le'aupepe's marriage didn't last, his wife's health did recover, and the band continued on, issuing the follow-up Let Me Be Clear in 2016. A collection of songs that were conceived during sessions for their debut but didn't seem right for it at the time, it also included a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." The EP climbed to number two on Australia's album chart. The band returned in early 2017 with singles including "What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?" from their second full-length, Go Farther in Lightness. Described by Le'aupepe as "my healing record," it arrived in Australia and the U.S. that summer, with the U.K. release following in October. ~ Marcy Donelson