Gang of Youths is a five-piece once again.
The band finally confirmed on Friday that London-based musician Tom Hobden has joined the lineup, replacing ex-lead guitarist Joji Malani. Joji left last year and later explained that being part of GOY was no longer fulfilling.
Tom’s Music Background
You may not be familiar with Tom Hobden’s name, but he’s no stranger to Gang of Youths — and vice versa. They got to know each other in 2019 while GOY toured twice with Mumford & Sons. (You can see him playing fiddle at the 1:35 mark on that great “Blood” video from Stockholm.) Hobden was a touring musician with M&S who usually played fiddle and guitar during their live shows. He also performed on three of Mumford & Sons’ four studio albums, playing violin and other string parts.
Hobden was a founding member of indie rock/folk band Noah and the Whale, which was active from 2006-2015. With Noah, Hobden played violin, keyboards/piano, and guitar. He was beloved enough to even have fans create a couple Twitter accounts — @hobdenfans and @dailyhobden — in his honor!
In addition to his recent work with Mumford & Sons, Hobden’s been working on a few side projects. One of those is Pêtr Aleksänder, a classical duo with Eliot James. Together they released an EP earlier this year that featured a spoken-word contribution from none other than Dave Le’aupepe. Hobden is also half of The Heathen and the Holy, a Christmas-season duo with Fred Abbott, his old mate from Noah and the Whale. Together, they release one song a year — a Christmas single.
Joining Gang of Youths
The band seemed to be leaving clues on social media early this year that Tom had joined the band. He showed up in several of their posts/stories, including standing in the background of this photo that Max shared on Instagram on January 15:
Hobden performed with Gang of Youths during all three of the band’s 2020 live shows before COVID shut everything down. The first was an intimate gig in London, which was followed five days later by the Electric Avenue festival in Christchurch. You could say that his coming out as a GOY band member was a few days later in Melbourne. The band headlined the Down to Earth charity festival, which was streamed live on YouTube around the world.
That show is probably a good hint of how the band will work together going forward. Jung plays lead guitar for most of the show, but switches instruments during a couple of songs. Tom plays a mix of strings, keyboards, and guitar — and like Jung, occasionally changes instruments in the middle of a song.
He’s obviously a tremendously versatile musician and should give Gang of Youths a lot of options to explore some new sounds on their new album if that’s a path they want to pursue.
(Photo at top is from TomHobden.com, Tom’s personal site which is currently offline.)