Members of the AF GANG can vouch for this statement. The AF GANG was started in 2017 after some fans that kept bumping into each other at IDLES gigs decided to put together a fan page. Starting modestly, it was a place that people could connect through music and their love of IDLES, but quickly became a place where people could share when they were feeling a bit shit. When the band asked if they could link to the group from their website, the AF GANG rapidly grew by the thousands. Brain, one of the gang’s Facebook group admins, also feels that the band saved his life.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for the album ‘Brutalism’. I hadn’t gone to see a band live in over 10 years because of my anxiety, but when that album dropped I told myself I had to see it live and it was the greatest experience I’d had in a decade. It’s given me confidence, it’s given me friendships, and it’s given me community.”
Brian interviews different people and bands for the group weekly and posts every day about everything from his morning commute, to how he’s feeling. He’s not scared to be honest when he’s going through something difficult, and he’s found that many of the members of the group appreciate this more than he could imagine: “I get messages from people – especially guys – thanking me for posting. It’s wonderful because that’s what we want. It’s hard talking to the people you love. With the AF GANG, we’ve found that it can be easier to talk to people you don’t know.”
“We don’t have many rules but the one that matters is that people should be able to post without fear of ridicule or judgement. So, if someone’s feeling a bit rough, feeling a bit shit, has had an argument that day, and they don’t feel like they can talk to anyone – they can come into the group and share. It’s beautiful to see. It’s really lovely being part of the internet that’s not full of idiots.”
And the band feel just as much a part of the AF GANG as their fans do, without taking any credit for its growth and spirit; something Joe is keen to tell the media in interviews: “The AF GANG is nothing we built, it was something that everyone else built. What came from our music was a sense that I wasn’t alone for the first time in my life and being able to give that to other people has a point of vulnerability. I’m just a part of it. I don’t orchestrate it. I’m a part of a movement and that’s much more important to me than pretending I’m some messiah because I’m not.”