When he’s not stuck behind a door or watching footy reruns naked, Fijian-born Joji Malani is playing bass guitar for Sydney’s self-proclaimed “basically-dad-rock” band, Gang Of Youths. And anyone who’s actually seen them play will notice the fallacy in that previous statement; because he doesn’t play bass guitar, goddamn it. Let it be known; Joji Malani does not play bass guitar.

“True story, every time I meet people that claim to be our biggest fans, they always think I play bass and I’m like ‘I don’t play bass.’ Actually, my parents still think I play bass; they think I play a six-string bass guitar,” Joji admits. 

While he may have disheartened his loving parents when he chose a rock n’ roll career over medicine or astronautics, Joji, has no regrets about ending up in a band with his four best friends; Jung Kim, Dave Le’aupepe, Max Dunn and Dom ‘Donnie’ Borszestowski.

“I never wanted to work in music, there’s a lot of good people in the music industry but I just wasn’t drawn to the scene. I like all sounds and I like music but I didn’t like what people were writing about. To us, GOY is about more than just music.

Their EP The Positions debuted at #5 on the ARIA album charts in April last year and once you’ve heard it you’ll understand why. It’s a guitar-laden record that’s consummate for screaming your lungs right out of your damn chest or cleaning up your room because mum won’t stop nagging. There’s no doubt it’s a work of pure lyrical and sonic genius, but the paramount thing about The Positions isn’t just the music. When the track ‘Magnolia’ placed #21 in Triple j’s Hottest 100 earlier this year, lead singer Dave, candidly shared the cataclysmic circumstances behind the song and the EP.

On June 3rd 2014, in a drunken, despondent misery caused by his wife’s illness and the collapse of their marriage, Dave tried to kill himself. On June 3rd 2014, his best friends saved his life.

“We were all there every step of the way and it affected us as much as it affected him, although definitely not in the same way. Dave’s the one with a brush in his hand, he’s the one painting the picture but we’re all apart of this canvas that was The Positions.”

With ‘GOY’ as their liberation and friendship as their fervour, the ever-humble quintet, have shone a floodlight on the often fetishised issues of depression and suicide. And it’s so damn refreshing to find a rock n’ roll band that has ambition for something far greater than fame and debauchery.

“We have so many pressures that past generations didn’t have. You know, this standard of living, this pressure to look like someone or be like someone. There’s just so much pressure and I think it’s great that we can start being honest and talking about it,” Joji says. Although he believes there is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution‘ to depression, through his own experiences, Joji volunteers advice for anyone concerned about the mental health of their loved ones.

“Honestly, just be there for them. I did it the wrong way for a long time, but just being there means so much and being ok with not having answers. Trying to tell them what to do or show them what they’re doing wrong isn’t going to stop it. You’ve got to say ‘Fuck man, it does suck’ or ‘It’s going to be ok’,” he laments.

“Being there for the ones you love is magic.” 

The sincerity, ambition and benevolence entwined throughout every part of The Positions is no doubt the reason it connects with so many people around the world. It’s a soundtrack for their recovery, a sign they aren’t alone, a life jacket for the drowning.

“It’s amazing to hear comments like ‘Your music has really helped me through a tough situation’ rather than just ‘Oh you’re lead singer is really hot’,” Joji chuckles.

Their new EP Let Me Be Clear will be upon us very soon, and is a collection of music conceived around the same time as The Positions was recorded. Our earholes are ready, fellas. 

You can also catch Joji, Dave, Max, Dom and Jung on their upcoming national tour in April. In the meantime, please look after yourself and your loved ones (Lifeline 13 11 14).

GANG OF YOUTHS 2016 TOUR: 

Friday 18th March
Bodega Wellington New Zealand

Saturday 19th March
Auckland City Limits Music Festival Western Springs

Friday 8th April
The Tivoli Fortitude Valley

Saturday 9th April
Enmore Theatre Newtown

Friday 15th April
The Gov Hindmarsh

Saturday 16th April
Astor Theatre Mt Lawley

Thursday 21st April
170 Russell Melbourne

Friday 22nd April
170 Russell Melbourne

Tickets here.