Young the Giant puts ‘Mind Over Matter’ to achieve rock success
Officially wrapping up their North American Tour with Kings of Leon Oct. 5, the five members of indie-rock band Young the Giant journeyed from their native West Coast to Delaware’s campus on Wednesday to perform for the Student Centers Programming Advisory Board (SCPAB) fall concert. Sparing a little time in their rock ‘n’ roll schedules, the long-time friends sat around backstage to discuss their past, present and future.
Known for Sameer Gadhia’s soaring lead vocals and pumped up rock-vibes found in “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” the Irvine, Calif. locals have been on the road for six years playing the music they love.
This past January, the quintet put out their sophomore album, “Mind over Matter” which transcended their beach-time tunes and developed much edgier tracks featuring more guitar riffs and experimental sounds found in “Crystallized” and “It’s About Time.”
But amidst their ever-present fame, the five members can still reminisce about their musical stardom and humble beginnings.
Formed under the group name, The Jakes, Gadhia and Jacob Tilley (guitar) added friends Eric Cannata (guitar), Francois Comtois (drums) and Payam Doostzadeh (bass) to their final lineup. In 2008, the band released the feel-good seven song EP “Shake My Hand” that featured their now hit “Cough Syrup.”
At the time, the members were still attending various colleges across California. They strived to manage their studies of international relations, human biology and biomechanical engineering while reconvening at available times to write, learn and play their material. Jump-starting their musical careers, the five guys eventually deferred from their universities.
Cannata, who Comtois joked was studying “good times” was three months into his college career when he deferred.
“For the most part, our parents were all pretty supportive,” Cannata says. “A few of the parents were a little more skeptical, but my parents were supportive. I was trying to go to school for music, but didn’t get to that point.”
Gadhia says his parents weren’t keen on his decision to leave school.
“My parents were kind of on the fence about it, and the first year we weren’t really signed, and we were just living in Newport Beach together,” he says. “I think it tested everyone and all the parents especially, but it’s like six years later and everyone’s extremely supportive.”
As for current college students, Tilley says they should pursue their passions but work toward their degree at the same time.
For the group, the strong love for music ended in success. “Cough Syrup” caught the attention of Roadrunner Records, and the members were officially signed in 2009. Upon their new label, the band also changed its name to Young the Giant to start fresh.
Their first album, “Young the Giant,” was released in 2011 to the United States. The band played at Lollapalooza, Billboard’s 2011 SXSW and the MTV Video Music Awards where they roused the crowd with “My Body.”
Since their days in The Jakes, Comtois says that their playing style and personal confidence has strengthened through exposure to different types of music as well as studying the artists the band respected growing up.
“I think it really taught us a lot about song structure and just trying to blur boundaries in ways that work together without being too cutesy about it,” Comtois says.
Gadhia attributes their musical influences to pioneers like The Beatles and The Doors, but he says the bandmates also find inspiration from the world around them, through the people they meet, art, literature and movies.
Though they never go into a record consciously thinking about themes or styles, the music tends to fall together. The group consistently aims to expand its music beyond the indie-rock genre as much as possible, and Gadhia says he does not see this stopping in the future.
According to MTV.com, writer’s block and pressures to conquer the sophomore slump initially delayed the release of “Mind over Matter” under new label Fueled By Ramen. But Young the Giant ended a successful tour with Kings of Leon performing its new songs and feels no pressure to pump out a third record just yet.
“We just feel like writing music for the fun of it right now,” Cannata says. “And it’s always fun, but it’s so early since we released our second record that we still feel fresh, and I think we’re just ready to continue writing.”
Ten years down the line, Gadhia says he sees Young the Giant still producing music for their fans.
“Hopefully this is like a long form thing for us,” he says. “But we started touring when we were about 17 and 18, so you have a high tolerance for that type of stuff, and then as you continue and as you travel you get worn down. So I think the goal for us is to be able to record and tour, but not be live on the road like we’ve been doing for the last six years.”