‘I’ve been okay with the performances,” Brad Klynsmith tells me as we wrap up our interview.
“I was okay and then I got a little bit emotional on Expresso. I was trying to talk to myself, like: ‘dude, pull it together. You’re going to sound terrible if you start crying now.’”
He managed to keep it together for television, but there’s no telling what might happen when he, his brother Josh and Jonathan “Jono” Rich - who make up Gangs of Ballet - perform the rest of their last gigs together.
You see, this year, Gangs of Ballet was supposed to release Form and Function Part 3, the last EP in a trilogy that makes up the Form and Function album. They did that. But they’ve also now announced that this will be their last body of work.
Following their MTV MAMA award-winning album, yes/no/grey, the band ceased to be a quartet and became the trio we all know and love. Keeping with the theme of threes, they decided they’d release three EPs over what was meant to be three years.
The first Form and Function was released in 2015 and the second in 2016. They worked on Part 3 last year and will release it at the end of this month. It was while working on the last EP that they decided to call it quits.
Klynsmith explains: “We were always going to finish the last EP - it took us so long to do. It’s been really fun to just play what comes and make it happen. We knew it would be the last of the trilogy, but we were at a place where we were like: ‘this might be the last body of work that we put out and then we’ll just release singles.’”
“Then we just got to a point where we were, like, we think this is done,” he continues.
“Somehow in seven years working, travelling and creating together, we haven’t fought. We’re mates, you know. So the break-up isn’t us being sick of each other or the band. It just feels like the season is done. It’s been a really important part of our lives. But Gangs is something we do, it’s not who we are.”
Their farewell at least includes new music. Black and White, which features Jack Parow, is their first known collab.
“We did a song with Matthew Mole, but there were label politics so it never got released,” says Klynsmith. “With Black and White, it’s because my concept around relationships is that someone only gets hurt when there’s grey area around issues. It’s healthier for a person to know it’s a no than to not know at all.”
This sounds like a companion piece to yes/no/grey, but Klynsmith insists that wasn’t the intention. The EP has a song called Brother that has a menacing sonic bed, and lyrics that claim what’s yours is mine, and implore one to never walk away. Then there is Goodbye which, with lyrics like “we can’t live in a memory” is as sombre as the title suggests.
Considering these songs were written before they knew they were breaking up, I ask Klynsmith how he feels about people drawing deeper meaning from the songs as the break-up now looms?
“I think I would’ve still put some of that into it,” he tells me. “Ironically, Goodbye was the last song we would ever record. It was written in studio and we didn’t know we were at the end.”
Jono will continue to pursue his design endeavours and Josh will release solo music under Josh Scott, while Brad and his wife plan to live, study and pursue songwriting opportunities in the US from September.
“I’m selling everything and I’m going to play that last show with everything I own in a bag, and then go straight to the airport afterwards,” he says. “It’s going to be wild.”
While it seems the band’s decision is final, that doesn’t mean they haven’t enjoyed their time together.
“About three weeks ago, I sat with my Mac and had iPhotos open. I found our very first performance video and went through others. I didn’t realise just how much we’d done. I got quite teary actually,” he says.
“I don’t know if I’ve got a favourite memory, but I have big blocks that I love. I love that I’ve been able to see my country. The band has afforded me the opportunity to actually see South Africa. My friendship basis has widened. Like, this is our last interview ever.
“I love what we’ve been able to achieve: awards, performances, playing proper slots at festivals to proper crowds. I had songs on the radio. That’s so wild,” he laughs, dragging out the word.
He may have managed to keep it together on Expresso, but I tell Klynsmith that Gangs of Ballet should probably get a tissue company to sponsor their last couple of shows and he laughs. “Yeah, they’re going to be tear-fests.”
Get more info on Gangs of Ballet’s Form and Function Part 3 via gangsofballet.co.za