How Young the Giant Found Their Voice and Lost Their Inhibition
Young The Giant
When we touch base with Sameer Gadhia, frontman for Southern California alt-rock upstarts Young the Giant, he and his bandmates are in the Netherlands, en route to the college town of Groningen for interviews in advance of their sophomore LP, Mind Over Matter, out January 21st on Fueled by Ramen. The press gauntlet is the first step of their re-immersion into an album that consumed the bandmembers for months, and things are only going to get more intense: a massive North American tour begins February 4th in Ventura, California.
Even though YTG has been in existence for less than five years, Gadhia is already intimate with the cyclical inevitabilities of life on the road and in studios, but as the singer explains it, when it came time to record the follow-up to its self-titled 2010 hit debut album (which featured the breakout single "My Body"), the quintet maintained camaraderie by living and recording together, and gained perspective by admiring the templates of personal heroes like Beck and Radiohead. Especially on lead single "It's About Time," you can hear the latter's influence throughout Mind Over Matter, though elsewhere on the album the music has a Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque muscularity undergirding Gadhia's slinky vocal charisma.
While navigating intermittent breaks in cell service, Gadhia discussed the strangeness of fame, managing expectations and drawing inspiration from writer's block.
You've said this record helped you get back to who you are as a band. So, who are you?
We're a pure example of a democracy at work. It was important to reconnect to our roots in terms of how we started playing music together and how it is that we considered our music. Sometimes you can think about higher things and the social implications of what you're doing, but at the end of the day, just being and existing as a group together, getting in a room and jamming for hours: I think that's really what we are.
And not every band is or needs to be U2.
Not even that type of impact. Just being able to say, looking back at music history, that we did something a little bit different, or we want to. That's our end goal, to be those bands that we looked up to and still look up to, those bands that take it and veer the direction in a different way.
So who are those artists who still inspire you?
Beck is one of those [who's] always evolving. And anything that Nigel Godrich does with Air and Radiohead is one of the band's biggest influences in terms of why we do it. We're most definitely a very different band [than the aforementioned bands], but some things we take to heart.
How do you take inspiration from an artist without aping their sound?
It takes finding your voice. When we first started playing music in garages, it would take us sitting down and saying, "Hey, what is it that we want to play? What is it that we all find ourselves listening to?" That's the very initial stage. That happened a year or two before the first record. But for us, the first record was still a discovery of that voice. With this second record, we've discovered that voice to a certain extent and we've just been trying to push the boundaries and get out of our comfort zone and broaden that voice as much as we can.