Evangelizing Gang of Youths on a Bruce Springsteen podcast (part 1)

It was a random post in a Facebook group for podcasters that I’m in. It began this way:

“Do you love music? Has music helped you through a difficult time in your life?”

For me, yes! And yes!

I reached out to Jesse Jackson (no, not THAT Jesse Jackson) via email and gave him a quick rundown of my Gang of Youths story, and how the band saved me during a dark time a couple years ago. We traded a couple emails IIRC and scheduled a time to chat on his podcast, Set Lusting Bruce.

It was one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve ever had!

We talked about my U2 fandom and what made it go away, how I discovered Gang of Youths and the song that blew me away on first listen, and I did my best to give his listeners a rundown of the band’s/Dave’s Springsteen fandom and some songs for them to listen to. (i.e., “Fear and Trembling” and “The Diving Bell”) There’s some candid talk about mental health, music fandom, and the power of music to heal.

Please give it a listen here: https://setlustingbruce.libsyn.com/matt-mcgee-slb

Oh, one more thing: You see that “part 1” in the title of this post? Jesse does this thing on his show sometimes where he invites a new/casual Springsteen fan to be the guest. He gives the “Bruce newbie” a list of 10 songs to listen to and then they record a conversation about those 10 songs.

Well, Jesse has invited me to be on his show again, only this time I’m going to be the host of the show and it’s a “Gang of Youths newbie” episode! I’ve already sent him a list of 10 songs and he’s listening to them now:

  • Fear and Trembling
  • Sjamboksa
  • Let Me Down Easy
  • The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows
  • Still Unbeaten Life
  • The Heart Is A Muscle
  • Magnolia
  • Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane
  • The Diving Bell
  • Say Yes To Life

That was a really tough list to put together! Obviously had to include the ones with the Springsteen connections, though.

So Jesse and I will chat again soon, but this time mostly about Gang of Youths, and then he’ll share the episode with his audience of Springsteen fans, and I’ll share it with all of you! And that’ll be part 2 of evangelizing Gang of Youths on a Bruce Springsteen podcast.

UPDATE: We’ll be recording the “Gang of Youths newbie” episode on August 19, so look for an update after that!

Joji Malani says he left Gang of Youths because it wasn’t fulfilling

Despite the great friendship with his bandmates, and despite Gang of Youths’ recent successes, ex-guitarist Joji Malani says he left the band because he “just didn’t find it fulfilling.”

He made the comments during an appearance on episode 9 of the “What a Great Punk” podcast, which is hosted by the guys in These New South Whales, a Sydney punk band with its own Comedy Central mockumentary series.

There’s not a ton of GOY-related convo on the episode, but when asked about his former band, Joji did say he was comfortable talking about what happened. He said that he and the band — especially Dave — were (are) best friends, and that his relationship with Dave even “goes beyond friendship.” But that, along with the band’s successes — like signing that international record deal with Warner Music — wasn’t enough for him to stick around.

“Even with all of that, when you have something in your heart which you feel you need to do, and the place you’re currently at is just not fulfilling … you know, with every new high with Gangs that we experienced in the last few years, I just didn’t find it fulfilling. And that’s why I knew I had to move on.”

Joji’s last appearance with Gang of Youths was October 11, 2019, as the band finished a string of shows opening up for Mumford & Sons. The band’s announcement only said that Joji had decided it was time to “move on into the next phase of his professional life.”

In this podcast conversation, Joji said he had recorded an album’s worth of his own songs after leaving the band, but seemed to suggest that he’s focused now on starting a record label and managing a new band. (I didn’t catch the name of the band if he mentioned it, but based on this Instagram post and Joji’s soon-to-disappear IG story, it seems to be Coconut Cream.)

He says his mates in GOY were sad but supportive when he told them about his plans to step away.

As were we all…..

Sea.Hear.Now postponed to 2021; No Gang of Youths gigs scheduled this year

The last domino has fallen. Organizers of the Sea.Hear.Now festival in Asbury Park, NJ, have canceled this year’s event due to the ongoing pandemic:

While we are disappointed to share this news, the health and safety of our fans, artists, partners, staff and the Asbury Park community remains our top priority.  Our gratitude goes out tothe fans who were looking forward to joining us on the beach this year, and we thank you all for your understanding and patience while we made this difficult, but necessary decision.

It was the last remaining 2020 concert on Gang of Youths’ tour schedule. And given Dave’s Springsteen fandom, it would no doubt have been a special gig to play in Bruce’s backyard.

Sea.Hear.Now has already announced that next year’s event will happen on Sept. 18-19, 2021 with many of the same artists on the lineup. But Gang of Youths isn’t one of them, at least for now. Next year’s poster says “more to be added,” so there’s a chance it’ll still happen. (But if GOY already committed to the Ohana Festival the following weekend, why wouldn’t they also commit to Sea.Hear.Now if they could?)