Q&A with Sameer Gadhia of Young the Giant

(Photo Courtesy of Young the Giant Band)

California rockers Young the Giant are a band that shouldn’t be missed this summer. Considering they’re working on banging out another album, plus having just released a powerful single, the highly-accomplished band is very busy this season. The State Press recently spoke to Sameer, the band’s vocalist, in between some of the band’s gigs.

State Press: Why did the band change its name from The Jakes to Young the Giant?

Sameer Gadhia: It was actually a combination of a lot of things. We had to deal with some copywriting stuff and deal with older band members way before [our last EP] “Shake My Hand.” The main thing was that we all didn’t really feel completely united under the name The Jakes because we’ve had so many lineup changes. We started as The Jakes my sophomore year in high school, and we only wrote “Shake My Hand” going into freshman year in college. So there were two or three years there with different members. I think we wanted to be under a name that all of us felt a part of that was kind of new.

SP: Let’s discuss the band’s musical progression from the “Shake My Hand” EP to where you’re at now. What can fans expect on the upcoming album?

SG: We haven’t gone too far in left field away from “Shake My Hand” because we’re still the same writers. But, at the same time, we wrote “Shake My Hand” when we were still all in college. We weren’t seeing each other frequently; we’d see each other maybe once a month. We’d come together just to play some shows and start pre-production. I guess you can see a lot more maturation from the band. The fact that we’ve been living together for the past two years now … We lived in Newport Beach together, and then we lived in L.A. … living together really does make a lot of difference in music, so people will hopefully like [our new material even] better.

SP: Are you guys incorporating any new instruments or trying anything else new on the upcoming album, or are you guys sticking to that classic Young the Giant sound you’ve always had?

SG: We haven’t really stuck to anything. We try and do new, different things. On the album we spent [a lot of time] tracking, and we did key parts, extra percussion, cello [and] additional strings. We really want to be able to recreate everything that we do [and be able to play it] live. I feel like that’s really important. We don’t really want to be forced to use back tracks while we’re playing live. So in a sense, yeah, we’re sticking to our roots, but we’re innovating and doing different things. I think people will enjoy it.

SP: You’ve just released the new single, “My Body.” It’s unbelievably catchy, and definitely a great summer song. Tell me how that song came about.

SG: That song was actually a really quick write for us. Some songs we spent weeks on and just get stuck on, and take a month break and revisit the song. But we wrote this song together in a span of maybe 10 minutes. It’s just something that came really naturally to all of us. We felt the need for the presence of something more aggressive in the album. It’s one of the more driving tracks. We wrote it together in L.A., and it was in the heat of an L.A. summer.

SP: Earlier this summer the band played at Switchfoot’s Bro-Am event, which is a charity concert that benefits local California chapters of the organization Stand Up For Kids. How did you get involved with that?

SG: We have always been really open to playing benefit shows, although with this tour, it was just luck. Our booking agent knew Switchfoot’s booking agent, and Switchfoot’s mixer used to mix us a lot about a year ago. I think it was just a bunch of friends deciding something that really made sense.

SP: You also played at Bamboozle back in May. As an artist, what’s the difference between playing a regular gig and playing at a festival?

SG: It’s completely a different experience. Any festival is a great experience for a musician because you get to see what’s going on in music currently, and you get to experience other bands as well. You’re not stuck in your own head space where you load up, play your show, watch the band that you’re touring with, which is the same thing every night, and then go back to your hotel. A festival is way different. Most bands try and watch their favorite bands play. It’s a really fun, brotherly type of atmosphere.

SP: So you’re going as a band and a fan?

SG: Yeah, basically.

SP: You guys recently finished up your first national tour with Minus the Bear and Everest, plus you’ve been playing with Steel Train, and you’ve got a bunch of shows lined up in California this month. What other bands do you aspire to work with someday, whether it’s live or in the studio?

SG: There are so many bands that we’d love to play with. That’s one of the cool things about being able to release an album and then being picked up as an opening act. Perhaps My Morning Jacket. There’s also this local band out of the Long Beach area called Delta Spirit. That would be a lot of fun. Broken Bells, The Black Keys, The Morning Benders, Surfer Blood … There are so many possibilities and different things that we’d like to try out.

SP: Besides the upcoming album and the touring, what else do you guys have coming up?

SG: We [recently] got back from a tour with Steel Train. In August we’ll be very busy. And after that, hopefully we’ll be getting on a national tour for the rest of the year.

Reach the reporter at lenni.rosenblum@asu.edu