Interview: The Last Gang

The Last Gang recently released a brilliant full-length named Noise Noise Noise on Fat Wreck Chords, so I spoke with Sean about the band, their new record, their activities, managing the band during the pandemic, plus many many more. Enjoy!

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. How have you been?

Sean: Not a problem. We’ve all been good and quite busy. I’d say since April things really picked up for us. Between getting things ready for the album, shooting music videos, and finally getting back to playing live shows, we’ve really had a full plate. Plus, we had our normal day-to-day jobs. We welcome the busy schedule, though. It fuels who we are as people.

We all witnessed how Covid ruined the music industry. Many venues, record labels, distros, promoters, and bands called it quits under these circumstances. How has the pandemic treated you as a band so far?

Sean: It’s been so tragic to see the devastation this pandemic has had on so many lives. And the division it has inflicted upon humanity is just awful. But even in the darkest days of Covid, we remained motivated to pull out of this thing in the right direction as a band. Before March of 2020, TLG had so much of our schedule set up for the year. We basically had 2020 laid out as far as touring and our timeline of getting into the studio to record the new record. We felt like the band was gaining traction like 2020 would be a good year for us to take that next step. Covid derailed all of that, obviously, but we didn’t let it sink us. Discouraging as the canceled tours and festivals were, plus the uncertainty of ever getting back to normal life as we knew it before 2020, The Last Gang was determined to move forward, not to lose any ground we’d worked so hard to gain over the previous five years. We took what we saw happening in the world as motivation to write an album. That was our focus for the first six months of the pandemic. 

If we put your band aside, how have pandemic/isolation/restrictions affected your personal lives?

Sean: Personally, we’ve all been extremely fortunate through all of this. The four of us are very close, so we were constantly in touch throughout the lockdown. Then when we were able to, we created our own little bubble so we could rehearse and record. None of us lost our jobs or got lost in self-destructive ways. We’re aware of the turmoil that this has caused to so many, and we’re grateful we came out of it mostly unscathed.  

The Last Gang
Photo By Harmony Gerber (Photo Grafitti)

What’s your perspective on life after a couple of years of being affected by the pandemic? Has it changed in some way?

Sean: Absolutely it’s changed. The pandemic has shown us just how fragile humanity is. It’s surreal to watch a virus spread across the planet and completely upend our lives as we knew them. We had no control over this. For me personally, this has taught me many lessons. I’ve learned to be patient and not take time, people, or anything in this life for granted. Also, the importance of self-care both mentally and physically. But even more, is my perspective on our relationship with mother nature. We’ve raped the planet, purged its resources, created a society that depends on the mass farming and consumption of animals.

Along with that, we’ve also created an environment for deadly viruses to jump from animals to humans. Mother nature has had enough of us, and she’s showing us just what happens now that we’ve pushed our exploitation of her to the limit. As long as we continue destroying our most important resource, we continue to burn the clock down to the ultimate demise of humanity and modern civilization as we know it. 

The main reason why we’re doing this interview is your latest album. What’s hiding behind the album title? Any particular meaning you would like to reveal to our readers?

Sean: We had a few ideas for the name of the album, but Noise Noise Noise really stuck. The title itself comes from the name of an old record shop in Costa Mesa, CA. The song is about nostalgia and the changes that occur throughout our youth. But what really grabbed me about using this as the title is the fact that the last 20 months can be summed up as just a bunch of fucking noise. It seemed fitting of the times we’re living in.           

Can you tell me something more about the songwriting, composing, and recording process? How did you work on these songs? Where and how is it recorded? Do you have a principal songwriter, or have you worked together on these songs?

Sean: This record was written in what I’d describe as two stages. We started writing rough demos for the album in 2019, hoping to get into the studio by early 2020. Of course, this didn’t happen. By the end of 2019, we had the framework for the songs mainly laid out, but they needed some work. In early 2020 the demos began to take shape, but everything was shut down by March, and we had to work on the songs remotely. So, Brenna took each demo, reworked them, and would email them to us to learn whatever changes were made. It was an unconventional way of writing, but we managed to get it done. 

Yotam Ben Horin also worked with us remotely from Israel. Then at some point, Brenna took our final versions of the songs to Fat Mike to rework some things. From there, we went into the studio to record the album, which was in late July 2020. 

As for our writing process, it’s simple. We all bring ideas to rehearsal, where we work on as much as we can together. Then Brenna takes these home to her “cry room” and works on lyrics and melodies. She records these, sends them to us, and we continue to rework and rewrite. We all write the music; Brenna writes the lyrics.

The Last Gang
Photo By Fernando The Photographer

What are the main themes covered on the Noise Noise Noise? Also, do you aim for more socio-political themes, or do you prefer a more personal approach to lyrics?

Sean: Themes covered on this album include nostalgia; excess and greed; substance abuse and mental health struggles; political extremism and the privilege and entitlement that is catered to politicians; life and death; protesting social injustices and police brutality; sexual abuse; the human-made destruction of our planet; disgust with a society that is oversaturated and disillusioned by the overconsumption of media.

To be honest, we didn’t set out to write a political album. We don’t believe it is one. The lyrics are humanist. They’re against hatred, greed, shifty politicians that are hell-bent on division rather than unity, sexism, and all the other awful isms that plague our communities. Regarding our ideals, we’re considered leftists, I guess. We always do take a personal approach to lyrics. We write about what we see going on, the things that irk us, something we’re passionate about, and injustices we feel need to be called out. We’ll continue to write with meaning and passion. If there’s no passion or meaning to your art, then what’s the point of doing this at all?

Noise Noise Noise is such a diverse material with several genres involved from scratch to finish. There are melodic punk rock, pop-punk, reggae, ska, dub lurking around throughout the album. What are the artists/bands that inspired you the most?

Sean: The Clash all heavily inspires us. They were always doing something different, and that’s what we aspire to do. We want always to be evolving in a good way. Never do we want to be a cookie-cutter band where every album sounds boringly like the last.

But we all take inspiration from so many different artists. Me personally, I was listening to a lot of old soul music and hip hop as well as an abundance of old reggae records during the time we wrote and recorded Noise Noise Noise.

What’s currently spinning on your turntable/streaming platforms? Any good records, artists, or bands you would like to recommend to our readers?

Sean: Well, with it being fall, my turntable at home has been full of The Cure, Echo, and the Bunnymen, Samhain, Misfit, to name a few. I’ve also been spinning Aretha Franklin: Aretha Live In Philly1972 quite a bit. That album is fucking killer! Also, if you haven’t listened to the new Get Dead record that came out last year, that thing is great. Check it out!

The Last Gang

What are the plans for the future?

Sean: We plan to tour as much as we possibly can in support of our new record. We also plan to continue writing so we can make another record sooner than later.  

Live shows and touring are coming back with the relaxation of control measures. Any possible chance for some European gigs or maybe a full tour?

Sean: I can tell you that there definitely will be a European tour. It is in the works for 2022, and it will be announced soon. 

That’s it. Thank you so much for your time. Anything you would like to say to our readers at the end of this interview?

Sean: Thank you! And I’d just like to thank anyone that has bought or streamed our music or has supported our little band in any way. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are so grateful for everything, and we’re absolutely humbled at the opportunity to do what we do. 

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