Young The Giant
By Dan Kimpel
Young The Giant: A California Band Takes Huge Steps
There is an alluring magic to four fresh-faced musicians channeling the Southern California dream into a litany of exquisitely crafted pop melodies and eloquent lyrics. With the release of their eponymous debut, the four members of Young The Giant: Sameer Gadhia (vocals), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Payam Doostzadeh (bass), François Comtois (drums) and Eric Cannata (guitar) have been transported from the sweat-soaked stages of Orange County to the cavernous Hollywood Bowl.
From the anthemic “My Body” to the semi-acoustic “Typhoon,” the band’s self-titled debut represents a lavish spectrum of modern styles as they mirror a two-year journey from an initial EP to their first full-length. “We write about our experiences together, and internalize them as a group,” says François Comtois. “It’s like a coping mechanism. The listener has a window into what we were thinking.”
All of the band members contribute to the writing. “That’s the best part about it for us,” Comtois continues. “We are all really good friends, and we accept each other’s musical opinions, and how everyone has a different take. This helps us to come up with more eclectic sounds.”
Comtois reveals the title is often the last element to emerge. “We will refer to a song as a word, so we’ll all know what we’re talking about when we’re writing. We might call it ‘the string song’ because there is a strong patch at the beginning. Then, when everything’s written, we’ll call it ‘Strings’ because it feels natural.”
Everything about Young The Giant is equally organic. Formed in Irvine, CA in 2004, the band, then known as The Jakes, displayed melodic pop aspirations that were in marked contrast to the hard-core sounds that typify the Orange County scene. Winning a contest to open for Kings of Leon in Chicago ignited a dramatic chain of events: two months later, the band was onstage at SXSW in Austin. Placements on MTV and A&E Networks upped their reputation. After signing to Roadrunner Records, they became Young The Giant.
Next, the band lived communally in Hollywood. “I was the only one who was 21 at the time, so it was difficult for us to go out,” Comtois says. “But we had a really awesome place, and our neighbors were cool, and we’d have our friends come over – we did a lot of cooking.” The band worked at Sunset Sound, a legendary studio with a storied legacy. “The Doors recorded there. That was a little intimidating: we didn’t want to be the guys who went in and created a crap record.”
Tracking live with producer Joe Chiccarelli retained the band’s live chemistry according to Comtois. “It made us much tighter as musicians. I think you get a much better sound when the core of the record is live; with everyone taking cues from each other.”
With far-reaching press accolades, a notable quote from English rock singer Morrissey also confirms the band’s arrival. “Once every three thousand years, a band comes along who restore that precious component of faith,” he observed. And of course a gig at the Hollywood Bowl opening for Incubus is testimony to this rising stature. “That’s crazy, we got the email and everyone was losing their minds,” recalls Comtois. “It will be great to get as many family members and friends there as possible, and not have to cram ‘em in the back of some club.”
What’s On My iPod?
“I just got the Brazilian Girls record and I walk around barefoot and listen to that, and the new Bon Iver record. I’m going through a David Bowie phase, listening to Heroes and Ziggy Stardust. - François Comtois