In a time where cookie-cutter Indie bands are popping up quicker than hives, Young the Giant (formerly known as The Jakes) provide the cure to long lost uniqueness. This young band somehow manages to take all necessary elements of music and spin them into a refreshing new tale through their lyrics and melodies. I was fortunate enough to chat with lead singer, Sameer Gadhia, and ask him a few questions on Young the Giant history and future.
I want to thank Jamie and, of course, Sameer for making this interview happen!
– How did The Jakes form?
S: The Jakes formed as a joke garage band in 2004 with a bunch of really good friends.
– Is there a reason behind the band’s name?
S: Yeah, it was actually just a stupid joke. It’s an acronym for all the members of the band and it ended up working well.
– How did you guys decide that this was the genre of music you wanted to play?
S: We come from Orange County and bands like Saosin had just come onto the scene around 2003, 2004, and post-hardcore was a big deal. We liked the sound but we were kind of looking for something else. We started listening to a lot of The Strokes, essentially, and we actually just started playing a lot of 70’s inspired dance rock, and then we just kind of got influenced later on by some people that had just started to take the stage. It wasn’t really a conscience decision more so as just kind of like a joke thing; we were going to try and play some dance music and we entered in for Battle of the Bands and we won because it was just a different sound, so we just stuck with it.
– Where do you guys draw your inspiration from?
S: We have a wide range of inspiration. A lot of us listen to somewhat different music and in the end it kind of becomes a big mix of things we like, and it becomes a unique mix. For me, The Strokes have been one of the biggest influences ever, even when I was younger. I mean, obviously there are some solid influences recently, but that was the main fueling act for me. Coldplay was also a big deal for me, Radiohead, and the The Beatles also.
– How do you go about writing the music and lyrics?
S: Usually someone will bring a riff or something and will bring it to practice and everyone will work on it usually together; we will all work on sound structures. It’s a pretty meticulous process. During that time, I usually just make up words and when we finish the final song, I actually look at the words I was just making up and most of the time the lyrics I write are based loosely upon the gibberish that I wrote.
– You are living in “a land of opportunities”, and numerous legendary bands have come out of your area. Do you feel any pressure to acquire the fame that they did?
S: Not so pressure as much as motivation. We never really thought that we would get even as close to this and be able to play this much. We were always inspired by the level of musicianship in the local music scene around Los Angeles and Orange County, so there hasn’t been really any pressure, just kind of like an opportunity for us.
– What has been your largest difficulty so far that either you have personally faced or collectively as a band have had to overcome.
S: I think our biggest problem is for the last year and a half we have all been in college, and we all go to school in different places. I actually go to school in Stanford right now, and everyone is off in their own schools. We’re thinking of maybe moving in together sometime soon and taking a break from school and doing this full time. For this last CD, Jake and I would travel down to Southern California every three weeks and we had one weekend where we had a practice in which the guys thought up a couple ideas for some songs, and we did those two songs as fast as possible. We’d play our old stuff and then we’d have a show that night and we’d play some old songs and then we’d try out the new ones that we just made during practice and that was the best way to kind of gauge and see what people liked and what people didn’t like. In the process, we threw away like 20 or 30 songs, so it was a big challenge having to do songwriting in such small spurts.
– Is music your chosen profession or do you have any other career plans?
S: We all really want to finish our college education and we are all going to four year universities. We all have different majors besides music, except for Eric actually; I think he is planning on pursuing jazz guitar, but for all of us we all have separate academic lives and if anything, music at one point might be the thing that we are doing, but we want to have a fall back plan or something else that we aspire to be.
– What do you hope your listeners take away from your music?
S: I hope that they can tease out all the different messages and stuff that we are trying to get across through the music that we play as well as the lyrics that we portray. We like playing somewhat catchy music but we still have a harder message that I hope people take home with them; we don’t really want to shove it down anyone’s throat.
– Do you have a continual message then that runs throughout your lyrics?
S: There’s not so much an overwhelming theme as we try to make everything relevant. We try to take a lot of influence from world music, like Native American Powwow music, South African gospel, and Caribbean music; there has been a lot of stuff we’ve all gotten to listen to and enjoy coming into college. Our theme is that we kind of embrace all the different types of music and diversity that we can and portray it into our sound.
– Are your families pretty supportive of your dreams?
S: Yeah, they are all pretty supportive of it. Honestly, they like the fact that we’re playing music and they know that that’s what we love to do. I think that as long as we’re happy, that’s what matters to them.
– What advice can you give to kids in your similar situation; trying to make a name for themselves in an industry where the majority of new bands are identical sounding?
S: There is a difference between playing music and playing music that you listen to. A big thing that we just discovered recently is that you are a songwriter when you get really serious in writing, and you should just let what you naturally make come out. You shouldn’t be afraid about what other people think or how it works with all the other music that’s coming out right now. You will obviously find influence from other people, but it’s about you doing your own thing in a different way.
– What can we expect to see from Young the Giant in the next few years?
S: Hopefully a lot. We are anticipating a big national tour sometime soon, and possibly working out some deals. We hope to still be around–I think that’s definitely what we aim for.