Gang Of Youths on ‘The Angel Of 8th Ave.’: “It’s a reflection of love in a new city”

The returning Aussie rockers talk to NME about their four years away, new life in London and what to expect from their spacey and ambitious third album

Gang Of Youths have returned with their first new music in four years. Check out new single ‘Angel Of 8th Ave.’ below and our video interview with the band above.

‘Angel Of 8th Ave.’ is the Australian band’s first taster of their upcoming third album, which was recorded and self-produced at their home studio in Hackney where they’ve been working since leaving Sydney for London back in 2017 to escape the fame they experienced as a chart-topping, multi-ARIA-winning band in their homeland.

“It’s about falling in love and finding a place in a new city with that person,” frontman Dave Le’aupepe told NME. “It’s my story, but we wanted it to feel like a more broad spectrum of love and the two major cities that played a big part in mine and my wife’s life.

“There’s always going to be poetry with love in the big city, and the metropolis is like a microcosm for a global human experience no matter where.”

The song also comes after an eventful period of births, marriages and deaths experienced by the band – who are now joined by former Noah & The Whale multi-instrumentalist Tom Hobden on the recommendation of departing guitarist Joji Malani.

“I say this all the time, which sounds very self-loathing and ‘woe is me’, but I never really became accustomed to someone who was marginally in the public space [in Australia] – so to me coming to London was like, ‘Fuck that!’” Le’aupepe continued.

“Being with my wife and being here meant a lot. London really shaped the character of the band. Life happened to all of us, and that was a reflection of the city that we’re in. We could have had these unique experiences over the last four years in any city, but London has been the stage for it. ‘Angel Of 8th Ave.’ is just a reflection of experiencing love in a new city.”

Le’aupepe and Hobden explained to NME how the track was an “obvious choice” for the first single, with the New Order meets Springsteen sonic approach marking a “transition” into their new sound while standing out as the only one from the new batch that sounds anything like previous album ‘Go Farther In Lightness’.

After previous guitarist Malani returned to Australia, the band found themselves unable to replicate previous sound and instead steeped themselves in their “fascination with the UK music scene of old” which has “translated into the music really well” since they relocated.

“We’re trying to zero in on the geography that we’re surrounded with, which brings an aspirational quality to what we’re leaning towards with music and what we want to represent,” Le’aupepe explained. “The influences that we shared before this are not the ones we share now. These are things that I’ve always loved but have maybe been a bit too fucking cowardly to do with the old band.”

Gang Of Youths, 2021. Credit: Amy Heycock
Gang Of Youths, 2021. Credit: Amy Heycock

The band explained to NME how this single alone had been 15 different versions, with the whole new album going through two takes before they landed on the one they have now.

“We’ve been together for 10 years, but I’ve been making music and touring since I was a fucking teenager,” said Le’aupepe. “Tommy was in a really successful band years ago. Now this is about us figuring out how we work in this fucking space and occupation.

“Finding new songs to express that has been tricky for me because I scrapped two iterations of this record before I stumbled on this one. There’s a lot more orchestration along with a lot more minimalist Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams direction. We’re less reliant on the guitar as a medium now, so that’s come out along with a lot of the electronic things that a lot of bands try to do when they think they’re awesome.

He went on: “There’s more of a spirit of anarchy and  collaboration. We don’t have these set positions anymore, which gives is space to fuck around. Whether or not that’s good, I don’t fucking know, dude, but it’s been pretty rewarding because we’ve had fuck all to do for 18 months.”

All Points East 2021
All Points East 2021 – day three line-up. CREDIT: Press

Fans of the band will get to experience new Gang Of Youths material live for the first time this August when they perform at London’s All Points East Festival along with Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club, Caribou and many more at Victoria Park.

“I’m really excited, it’s an amazing spot – hats off to our booking agent!” said Hobden. “For me, it’s great to be on the bill with all those bands that I’m familiar with. There’s no way that I can’t imagine these songs getting a reaction.”

Le’aupepe jokingly added: “The idea of recreating what we’ve made [in our home studio] with all these 300 tracks of information with maximalist, tasteless, and without restraint… How do we do that on stage? Badly?”

Watch our full video interview with Gang Of Youths at the top of the page, where the band tell us more about their new album along their upcoming with how Hobden came to join the band after touring with Noah & The Whale and Mumford & Sons.

Gang Of Youths will play All Points East on August 30, and have also been confirmed as main support on Sam Fender’s upcoming UK arena tour, which is currently in the process of being rescheduled. News of the third album will follow in the months ahead.