By Piya Sinha-Roy, Reuters
LOS ANGELES–They made a splash with their California beach-inspired debut album. Now indie rock band Young The Giant are hoping the rest of America will be swept away by their carefree seaside sound. With their first two singles, uptempo tracks “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” garnering radio, television and film play, the band, all in their early 20s, are kicking off their first headlining tour on Feb. 8. “We’re a little jittery in a good way, we’re excited to do our first big headlining run in theaters. It’s amazing to see people already buying tickets to these things. It takes a lot of weight off our shoulders as it’s selling well,” lead singer Sameer Gadhia told Reuters. Formed in Irvine, California in 2004 as The Jakes, the band went through a few line-up changes before settling on Young The Giant, with Gadhia on vocals, Francois Comtois on drums, Payam Doostzadeh on bass and Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata on guitar.
The band recorded their self-titled first album, released in 2011, while still in their teens living together on the beach in Southern California. Songs like “Strings” and “12 Fingers” emote the feel of seaside living while Gadhia’s distinctive voice showcased against uptempo guitar riffs.
“We were living a carefree lifestyle, I guess a respite from all the previous responsibilities that we had all had, and we just lived on the beach for a year. We didn’t really have much money but we were writing music sometimes, and we were out on the beach just having a good time,” said Gadhia. Their sound attracted the attention of fans across the world. British singer Morrissey sang their praises and MTV selected them as a “push” artist, which led to Young The Giant performing a raucous rendition of “My Body” at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. “As far as VMAs and MTV, specifically VMAs, that’s really what I think helped everything push so quickly,” said Comtois.
The “Young the Giant” album peaked at No. 42 on the Billboard 200 chart, with Spin Magazine’s David Menconi calling the music “boldly earnest anthems in need of a cozy arena.” Rolling Stone’s Matthew Perpetua called the single “Apartment” beautiful, while Drowned in Sound’s Alex Yau drew comparisons to Tennessee band Kings of Leon.
However, not all critics were won over by the songs. Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen called the album “corporate indie,” while Paul Mardles at British newspaper The Observer described the band “an anaemic Coldplay,” giving the album two stars out of five.