Interview: Max Dunn from Gang of Youths

Thursday, August 24, 2017

If you're reading this now it's highly likely that you have eyes and a social media account and therefore would no doubt be aware that Gang of Youths have released their eagerly (nice way of saying impatiently) awaited second album, Go Farther In Lightness. All the kids are loving it and you'll hear what we at WC thought of the album in the form of a review very soon buuuutttt… We were also lucky enough to have a Q+A with bass-ace Max Dunn.  

Max opened up about the new album, the brutal honesty of their music, songs that give him the feels and his go-to gif.  

Here's what he had to say:

Congrats on the release of Go Farther In Lightness and the great reviews it’s already receiving.  Loving your latest release 'The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows' too, I think you’ve got a Hottest 100 contender on your hands there.  Is there a sense of relief (can you perhaps let out the deepest of sighs) when you finally put stuff out there and start to get a positive response?

I suppose there is. How people respond to your music isn’t really something you can control so when people connect you feel very fortunate. 

Undoubtedly a rough time for you recently, as you opened for Chris Cornell a few years back. How hard did his passing hit you fellas and has it made you reflect on your own mental state/well-being?

Well, David opened solo on Chris’ Australia run. It was a big moment for Dave and I think Chris had a profound impact and really connected with him. It is totally devastating what happened. These terrible moments do make you put your head up and look around at those you care about. Very sad for his family. 

Given the massive life events that you’ve all been through together, how important has the ‘brotherhood’ of the band/ability to speak to your mates been for all of you?


On the lyrics, will your forthcoming album Go Farther In Lightness be as dark as the others have been?  Or does the ‘BeyoncĂ© dancing’ on stage + the name of the album indicates that we might see a brighter side of David’s psyche this time around?

Honestly, I don’t view The Positions as being a dark record. To me, it will always be, hopefully, the first of many records that are honest about the chaotic human condition and offer a reason to have hope and courage in the face of normal life (inherently painful at times). Go Farther In Lightness is the same. What do you do when you're faced with your own mortality, the fleetingness, and uncertainty of life? Is it even worth doing, what is important? To which we feel wholly unqualified to answer except to say yes it is worth it, and people and dogs are important. 

Have you got a band/album/song that you relate to/gives you the feels, in the same way, people are drawn to your music?

I’m really into Torres right now, particularly the track ‘Ferris Wheel’. I’ve also been listening a lot to Paul Buchanan’s (Blue Nile) Mid Air, which is this eerie, deliciously spacious piano record that makes me enormously happy/sad. You Forgot It In People, Boxer and Celebration Rock are unendingly feels records for me. 

I loved the cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ as a bonus inclusion on Let Me Be Clear; will you have any luscious covers for us on this new album or perhaps at the live shows?

None on the record this time around. The show stuff has gotta be top secret, doesn’t it?

You’re about to tour Go Farther In Lightness and have chosen Gordi as your support, who will actually be touring her freshly released debut album Reservoir.  She’s an interesting choice (good interesting)!  Are you guys fans/have you seen her live before?  If not, spoiler: chick’s got serious talent.

All of us have loved her music and respected her a great deal for a long time. Personally, I've been listening to her a lot lately. I’m looking forward to meeting her. It's always a massive upside of touring, seeing people who are freakishly good and learning from them. I’m a genuine Fountaineer fan too, from way way back, check out Greater City, Greater Love. 

My cousin Steph, is a massive fan of GOY and had to endure a bare, sweaty boob to her face for the majority of your Laneway set, in order to stay up the front.  What's the craziest thing you’ve done or experienced purely out of the love of music?

Well, I have a lasting memory of seeing Dave Dobbyn (Of The Dudes) play to thousands of people during an apocalyptically massive rain storm. I was 16 maybe and not a soul left the field. Everybody watched this guy standing in the heavy rain, Telecaster in hand. It was so inspiring my best mate and I just did mud slides and sang along. Good moment. 

If/when you’re asked what you do for a living, do you reply with, “Slappin da bass, mon!” Paul Rudd style? 

To my everlasting shame, probably (I love you, Paul Rudd).

What’s the stupidest/most trivial thing you’ve argued about as a band (who gets the front/window seat etc…)?

Too many to name when it comes to Joji and I. He once requested a cage to keep me from harassing him during live sets. What happens when unstoppable forces meets an immovable object?

Did you end up finishing your law degree?

Hahaha, well I’m actually doing my last ever paper right now. I’m like that weird old guy at uni now, who sits up the front and relates every question or answer to some obscure ‘life moment’ (those 15 years I spent working in local govt, that 1983 Kilimanjaro summit etc.)

Have you all made sure you’re eligible to vote in the pending plebiscite (or does being London based change things)?

I’m actually from Aotearoa so I cannot vote in this wonderful country. Would encourage all people, particularly Christians like me to vote Yes, and generally love each other better (I could work on that last bit too). 

What was the last song you listened to on your phone?

Well, I just put on Lippy Kids by Elbow while writing this.

Are you a GIF man?  If yes, what’s your go-to GIF?

This obviously: 

Well that was a Bledisloe-blow.

Written by Kate Carnell

You can catch Gang of Youths on tour at the below dates:
Thursday, 31st August — The Tivoli, Brisbane
Friday, 1st September — The Tivoli, Brisbane (Sold out)
Wednesday, 6th September — Festival Hall, Melbourne (All Ages)
Friday, 8th September — Hordern Pavilion, Sydney (All Ages)
Wednesday, 13th September — Odeon Theatre, Hobart (All Ages)
Friday, 15th September — Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (All Ages)
Saturday, 16th September — Metropolis, Fremantle