Standing Up (and Falling Down) with Young the Giant



Young the Giant’s Sameer Gadhia is not afraid to lie on the floor at his shows. YTG doesn’t embarrass easily, and the California natives’ fun and fearless attitude have allowed them to make their way from the West Coast to a tour around the world. While attending various colleges throughout California, YTG put out their first EP during their freshman year of college, all the while continuing to meet up and perform gigs on the weekends.

The band’s self-titled debut album reflects influences from artists including The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, The Strokes, and anything that is heard in their tour bus. However, YTG would rather leave the categorization of their sound up to their audience. As strong performers on the festival circuit (not just in the States, but internationally) this summer, they’re ready to lead some killer performances. YTG is ready show the world that they are more than just the average garage band.

ILANA KAPLAN: So, you guys have been friends for a long time?

SAMEER GADHIA: I’ve known most of these guys for a really long time. I’ve known Payam since I was in elementary school. I met Jake the first day that he moved from England. I’ve known Eric’s older sister since I was in middle school. I hung out with her a lot and obviously, by default I had seen Eric around. So, I’ve known him since he was really little. Same with Fran and all those guys. It’s been a while. It’s been a while.

KAPLAN: Who are some of your influences?

GADHIA: When we first started, we had a lot of The Beatles, The Doors, The Stones, The Strokes and The Velvet Underground. When you first start, you’re not sure of your voice and your own sound. Those were kind of the big influences we went for. Two years down the line, eventually you just start getting comfortable writing with one another. It doesn’t become what big influences you are poster-marking your music to sound like. It’s just channeling subconscious writing powers. We’ll be listening to literally everything. We’re in the van, driving hours every day. We’re always listening to stuff. We’ll be listening to Motown to Dylan, McCartney, Lennon, and hip-hop and rock. Whatever. Anything. It’s cool.

KAPLAN: The tour bus is probably really great to write and figure out what music you’re going to write next.

GADHIA: I think more now for this next album, it’s not going to be what we want to sound like or who we want to sound like. It’s more where we think that we can go with the sound that we’ve already tried to start creating. It’s good to get that influence, but it’s not a conscious effort to try and sound like that influence. That’s not the intention.

KAPLAN: What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve had as YTG?

GADHIA: Well, we’ve had our share of shows that we’ve been way too drunk.  You know, start falling down on stage. It’s never really embarrassing as much as funny—people think it’s part of the show, almost. You can get away with pretty much anything as a band.  When something is more of a formal medium, it’s easier to embarrass yourself. Whereas, last night, one of my mikes was a little loose, so it fell to the ground. I was lying down the whole time on the ground, singing. It was stupid and weird, but no one thought it was embarrassing. No one judged me. You pretty much have free reign to do whatever the hell you want onstage.

KAPLAN: What makes YTG different from other bands out there right now? There are a lot of bands that sound the same and a lot of repetition.

GADHIA: I can’t really say for sure, because I’m biased. These are the guys I write with. I do think that everyone has strong writing power. The most unique thing about us is that we’re a live, mutually writing band. There aren’t many bands that write together, it’s more like one singer-songwriter who gives liberties to other members. It’s really democratic. We all write together. Especially because of the Internet—how easy it is to access free music and local music and any type of band—music has become “overgenre-ized.” There are so many sub-sections to music, and people try and put bands in boxes and try and limit them. I think we are very comfortable going in any direction. We don’t want to be held back by what people think we should sound like.

KAPLAN: There are two songs that have been going around and growing in popularity: “Apartment” and “My Body,” which distinctly stand out in my mind. Can you tell me a little bit about them?

GADHIA: “Apartment” is one of our fondest songs. It’s one of the first songs we ever recorded ourselves in demo version. We actually still have that demo version of “Apartment.” We really love it. It was right when we moved out of this beach house we were living in Newport; we were living together. We moved back home to our particular places. At this time, it was kind of a lull. It was two years ago, and we hadn’t gotten signed yet. We weren’t quite sure where we were going. I think the song reflects this muted somberness, but at the same time positivity. We still realized that we were doing what we wanted to do. We made the sacrifice to take time off, and we were ready to see it all the way through to wherever it took us. This song was about leaving our apartment for the beach. It was a very strong connection with us to memories of where we were living.

KAPLAN: What about the meaning behind “My Body?”

GADHIA: For “My Body,” it was in Los Angeles when we were living together. We got in this mode of writing that was over-thought out. We had gotten opinions from too many people, and that’s always a problem. We had gotten really frustrated, and we almost felt like we had writer’s block. We tried to do something really aggressive and completely different than what we were currently jamming on. We thought, why don’t we try and write a really balls-to-the-wall song, something that reflects aggression, this power, and this frustration. It wasn’t like we ever wanted it to be a song on the album.  It just started off as a jam and we laughed and thought it was funny. Our manager happened to be downstairs and he was like, “Wow, that’s going to be the song.” We ended up recording it. It ended up being the single, it’s been doing pretty well. It was pretty crazy.  I mean, the song was written in ten minutes.

KAPLAN: It’s funny how things come to you at the weirdest of times.


KAPLAN: Who is the coolest person you’ve been able to perform with?

GADHIA: We played a show with Cold War Kids, which I was really excited about because they’re from our area.  They were an influence in terms of; these are guys from our town and our place that are doing something.  We played with Friendly Fires at SXSW. We played with TV on the Radio at the SPIN party, which was freakin’ amazing. Two years ago we also won this contest to play with Kings of Leon. It was right before Only By the Night.  We were really excited to play with them. I’ve been pretty excited. It’s been a good run so far.