Last year was a busy one for Irvine's Young The Giant. They released their first album on a major label, toured all over the world and played at both the VMAs and MTV Unplugged. Meanwhile, the band's two singles, "My Body" and "Cough Syrup" both were in rotation on rock radio stations nationally.
Beginning a three-month North American tour, the band plans to eventually head back to the studio, according to singer Sameer Gadhia and drummer Francois Comtois. We spoke to them about what's next for the group, and those who would diss them, ahead of their shows at the Wiltern this Saturday and Sunday, February 11 and 12.
At your December shows at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Sameer announced that the band is working on some new material. How many new songs are in the works?
Francois Comtois: Between 10 and 12 I'd guess. Some of them are just bits and pieces of ideas. We're planning on having 40 of them completely flushed out before we go back into the studio.
Sameer Gadhia: I have a couple of more up my sleeve that the rest of the band doesn't know about. Well, I guess I just gave it away. When we write, we all write together and when we jam together, we can come up with five to six new songs that way as well.
What was it like playing MTV Unplugged?
Comtois: I know for us, Nirvana was a huge influence, and were one of the first bands to get us interested and passionate about music, so to play on the same program that they did was mind-blowing. We wanted to do a kickass job so we worked hard on making it the best possible set it could be. On one hand, it's an honor to be asked to do it, but on the other hand, there was a lot of pressure to not screw it up.
Gadhia: It was absolutely ridiculous to me. Bob Dylan played Unplugged and it's crazy to be a part of that.
Are you excited to be playing two sold-out shows at The Wiltern?
Comtois: Oh yeah, I'm flipping out. It's one of my favorite venues in the world. It's beautiful, historic and I've seen so many of my favorite bands there. As recently as our first headlining tour in January 2011, we were only playing 200-500 capacity rooms and were only half or a third full. To be where we are a year later makes it really feel like the struggle was worth it.
How has your background shaped who you are as a singer, and the material/subject matter that you write about?
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Gadhia: Being from Orange County and going to Stanford for two years had an effect on who I am and how I've grown as a songwriter. We took a trip to South Africa after my freshman and that really opened my eyes to different types of vocal sounds and how to use my voice in a more complete way.
Hearing the different sounds of that country in particular was eye opening and definitely made me look at the world differently. Being from where I'm from and going to college where I did is who I am and I'm not ashamed of it. Even if it's not as cool or as indie rock as people may want to say, that's who I am and where I'm from and people can think whatever they want to think about it.
After the tour, what do you guys have planned?
Gadhia: That's the amazing thing, we never really know. We know as much as you do right now. At this point, we have some festival offers that we're going to try to make all of them work. The primary focus for us is to finish this album. We want to get into the studio in the fall and release it early next year. We're not quite sure yet what 2012 has in store for us.