Interview: The Gospel Youth chat new music and touring the world

Having just completed their UK tour with Aussie pop-punks Tonight Alive, The Gospel Youth chat about new music, always being on tour and why you shouldn’t eat two-day old chicken. 

Formed in 2014, The Gospel Youth have previously shared stages with the likes of We Are The Ocean, Mallory Knox, Deaf Havana, Hands Like Houses and many more. In 2016 the band launched a campaign that saw them release 12 crowdfunded singles in 12 months, putting their future in the hands of their fans and opening up the opportunity to write month on month about live experiences as they happen.

Earlier this month they toured with Australian pop-punk outfit Tonight Alive and UK rising stars ROAM. Just before the tour kicked off, the five-piece released the new video for recent single Bloodlines. 

Ahead of their set at London’s KOKO I sat down with vocalist Samuel Little and drummer Kurtis Maiden to chat about their music and life on tour.

How did you get into making music in the first place? 

Kurtis: Oooh, that’s a good one.
Samuel: I’ll let you go first.
Kurtis: Making music, it was my brother I guess. My brother and his friends were a little bit musical, they were just into it. And, jokingly, one day my brother said oh maybe you should play the drums so we can start a band. And he was my big brother, I idolised him, so I was like “Yeah, alright!”. So I started learning drums and just fell in love with it. And it’s all I’ve ever done since.
Samuel: I actually got bullied into making music. At the time it was terrifying. When I was growing up, I was just walking home from school listening to my Sony walkman, I was in year 8, and one of the kids that was in year 11 basically put his hand on my shoulder, pulled me back and was like “Oi, you can sing?” and I was sort of like “No?” *laughs* And, he gave me his CD out of his CD-player and was like “You need to learn this by tomorrow, and you’re gonna sing it in front of everyone.” And I was just like, that’s terrifying, but sure! Then, next day at school, I spent most of my day kind of avoiding it, but I ended up getting found. Ended up being taken into the year 11 common room, being made to stand on the table and sing this song. At which point I wasn’t afraid of singing anymore, I was afraid of breaking the table and being on YouTube forever. From then on I was known as the kid that you’d just go “learn this song!” and then after a while, these kids that were in a band were just like “you should come sing for us!” and we went to talent shows. And now we’re here, playing London KOKO, which is kind of crazy.

And how did you guys get together as a band? 

Samuel: That’s another long story *laughs* I think it’s just all of my stories are long… Ehm, me and Julien, who’s not here, we’ve known of each other for years. He ended up recording a solo EP of mine and he kind of jokingly was like “I wanna write some stuff with you.” We wrote our song Kids, put it online and basically just thought no one’s gonna care about it, we’re just doing it for us. It kind of went crazy, so ended up getting Kev and a few other people in and we did some live shows. And then over the years with just being fans of each others bands, we stole Kurtis from his old band. Because we’re thieves. And then James is probably the worst decision we’ve made *laughs* he’s great!
Kurtis: James was a really good friend of mine and he was a guitarist first before a bassist, and he stepped in and helped us out.

You guys released Always Lose last year. What have you been up to since? 

Kurtis: We’ve just been playing shows.
Samuel: Yeah! We did Warped tour, whilst the album was coming out. Came back, did a small little run. And obviously there was Christmas and New Year’s, and all those horrible holidays. And then we’ve just come back from a month in America with Sleeping With Sirens and Set It Off. We’re just keeping ourselves busy, trying to make that hussle work whilst trying to have normal lives.
Kurtis: We persevere.

How do you deal with being so far away from home for quite a long time? 

Samuel: With a lot of Skype calls. Even with the time difference, it’s only a couple of hours. So you can catch your other halves, or have communication with the other side of the world. It’s good.

What was the Warped tour like, playing with all these band that you guys listen to as well? 

Kurtis: It seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?! It was insane. We’ve loved every second of it. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done. Really hard work. But we self-drove it in a van, we’ve never done anything like that before, so we really threw ourselves into the deep-end. But we love it and glad to have been a part of it now because it’s the last ever Warped Tour this year.
Samuel: It’s just cool, meeting some of our idols as well, bands we’ve looked up to for years and then because it’s all outside in one giant outdoor family, playing the same weather, playing the same stages and stuff you end up making friends with people you would have never thought you would have met. I remember being in a catering line and just having a conversation like this with the guitarist from Emmure, and I was just like “In a normal world, this doesn’t happen to us!” *laughs* but here we are.

Your tour with Tonight Alive kicked off on Tuesday, what are you looking forward to the most? 

Samuel: They are just the best. They completely radiate positivity. And we’ve known the ROAM guys as well for a little while, and they’re super friendly. The Tonight Alive crew are super nice, we’ve only been here two shows, this is the second, and it’s already like we’re family. It just works. Sometimes you meet people and you’re just like “Yeah, you can stay”.

Talking about touring, what’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you on tour? 

Kurtis: Oh god!
Samuel: I feel like it was definitely on our last tour, wasn’t it?
Kurtis: I mean, it wasn’t really funny to me, but I got really bad food poisoning on our last tour.
Samuel: Did you?
Kurtis: Do you not remember when I had food poisoning? And I was lying down for 48 hours.
Samuel: I remember when you had food poisoning at Warped Tour, I don’t remember when you had food poisoning then.
Kurtis: I was literally at the back, just for 48 straight hours.
Samuel: Oh!! That was because… okay, what he is referring to, is someone thought it’d be funny to eat two-day old chicken that was left in van.


Samuel: And who was drunk and thought it’d be fine.
Kurtis: I was, shit-faced. There was this chicken, and I thought “fuck it, I’m gonna eat it!”
Samuel: And then he was ill for the next two days.
Kurtis: Yeah that wasn’t on the Warped Tour.
Samuel: That was on the SWS run, that was… you’re an idiot. *laughs* I don’t know… the weirdest thing that’s happened… When we were on the Silence tour I basically used my last twenty dollars to buy a panda mask, and that made a lot of appearances throughout the shows. That was pretty strange… just all of the sudden you’d just see James on stage with Set It Off, doing a weird jelly fish dance. We’re pretty tame, to be honest.
Kurtis: It’s basically just me getting drunk and making a fool out of myself and throwing up.
Samuel: Oh, there was that time when we were on Warped, I think it was South Carolina, and we had those two hillbillies and they were like living in their car, come up to us.
Kurtis: Well one of them lived in the forest.
Samuel: Oh yeah! One of them lived in the forest, that was it. And they came up to us and they looked like they were gonna take us for all of our money. They looked like they were getting ready to have a stab-a-thon. I can’t remember how the conversation got started but we were like “we’re in a band”, and they were like “oh what’s your band called?”, and we were like “The Gospel Youth!”.
Kurtis: “oh, gospel!” *in a Southern accent*
Samuel: “We’ve got a Bible in the front of the truck!”
Kurtis: Yeah that type!
Samuel: That sort of stuff happens to us a lot. It’s not even weird anymore.

Talking about your album, talk me through what inspired you, what was the writing process like?

Samuel: Life. Life is kind of the inspiration for it. We wanted to kind of have something that was very reminiscent of the daily struggle, like, you have good days, you have bad days. And you have days where you literally feel like you can’t even breathe. And the whole album for us is kind of that, things do suck, things do get shit but you can push through and you can find hope in anything if you look hard enough. Even though at the time it doesn’t seem like you can. We wanted to have a little bit of everything.

And you’ve also released a cover of a Shawn Mendes song – how did THAT happen?

Kurtis: It just sort of came out of nowhere.
Samuel: Well, no, I thought this, because I was like “Why did we choose that song?”. It was because when we were on Warped Tour, it was like the ONLY song on the radio. It was either that or country. I don’t remember any other songs being played.
Kurtis: I thought Jule’s just mixed it for fun.
Samuel: Well, he did but I think it subconsciously just wormed its way in because Jules doesn’t listen to that at all. It just sort of happened through listening to the radio too much. I’m a massive pop fan, give me horrible pop music any day of the week but it was just kind of cool because it’s still close to the original but with a little twist from us on it. You can completely revamp something or keep it exactly the same, but having a little twinge of everything in it is kind of the way we wanted to go.

What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year? 

Kurtis: Take a little bit of time off.
Samuel: We need to pay rent *laughs* for the places we’ve not been for the last two months.
Kurtis: we’ve got some shows lined up, can’t say anything specific, but something we’re really excited about. I think we’re just gonna focus on writing some new songs.
Samuel: Write some new songs, looking after ourselves, we’ve tried to play every place imaginable, so we just need some time to just rest a little bit.