Listen to this track by Orange County California collective known as Young The Giant, a big name for a big band. It’s ‘My Body’, a track off of the upcoming debut self-titled album Young the Giant, to be released on CD next week, January 18th.
There was a time that the word ‘indie’ suggested a small-scale sound. Young The Giant proves just how false this assumption is, with a big sound that evokes the anthemic 80s grandeur of Echo & The Bunnymen and early U2, mixed with the crunch of 90s alternative rock.
The band is a product of a true collective, former high school friends and all musicians from a young age dreaming of playing music full-time, living and writing together, and now touring and recording, too. Living in Newport Beach right on the water, and bathing in the presence of the Spirit of Wilson, the band dreamed of a mythical eternal summer, and dressed it up in newer clothes; a lushly realized brand of rock music unafraid to put its ambition to the forefront. The chorus of ‘I want more” is come by honestly.
I received a copy of the record from the band’s label, Roadrunner Records, and interviewed the band via email to ask them about it. Among other things, we talked about high school, communal living, and rock music on a grand scale. Guitarist and vocalist Eric Cannata answers on behalf of the band. Here is that interview.
The Delete Bin: You guys have a unique relationship as a group in that you’ve been high school buddies, housemates, and of course artistic collaborators. How has the music evolved along with those relationships?
Eric Cannata of Young The Giant: In high school we were really learning how to write music together. All of our gear was set up in one of our parents’ living rooms and we would meet up to see if we could come up with anything. We wrote our first EP when we were all at different colleges in California and only met up about twice a month to write. Our writing evolved the most once we left school and moved in together. Most of the inspiration of the album comes from us living in Newport beach four houses from the sand, and then moving to Los Angeles.
DB: In this song “My Body” there seems to be a tension between being both liberated and being held back - “My body tells me no/but I won’t quit, ’cause I want more”. Where does this tension come in this song, and for you as a band?
ECoYTG: The dynamic between tension and liberation came from the very basic literal interpretation of the struggle we experienced directly before the creation of the song. It was a stroke of inspiration, and later appreciated insight, that cut through a relatively frustrating time for us as writers . As mutual writers, it can be both smooth and rough to create songs together, and it all depends on the daily dynamic.
The specific day Of “My Body”‘s creation was one of those rougher days for us. We had opened sail on a relatively stale wind, and had caught on to a mellower vein of overly contemplated writing. In a bout of frustration , we just decided to try something absolutely different; something based on instinct and spontaneity rather than meditation and patience. The song started just as a quirky joke; a release of tension. The riff, melody, and lyrics formed in a matter of ten minutes. At the end of the album writing process, “My Body” stayed the most pure to its raw, original, form.
DB: You guys had been on the scene for a while before you realized that your audience’s reaction to your music had reached a tipping point to enable you to go full-time. Were there specific events that you have attached to this when you think about how far the band had come by that point?
ECoYTG: We had a formal meeting with all of our parents and made a presentation on why we should take school off to do music full time.
DB: How did you hook up with Roadrunner records, your label?
ECoYTG: At SXSW we were approached by several labels but felt Roadrunner had the most passion for our music.
DB: Since your signing, you’ve worked with a few luminaries in Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, My Morning Jacket) and Michael Brauer (Coldplay). What was your most striking ‘wow’ moment in working with people you admire?
ECoYTG: We all grew as musicians after working with Joe. We recorded “Guns Out” first and after hearing the instrumentals recorded I think we all realized how lucky we were to be working with him.
DB: You mentioned that you guys lived communally for a while when writing this record, which must have been a very freeing experience creatively. Later on, you co-produced the record with Joe Chicarelli. How did you transition from one process, which must have been a very intuitive excercise, to one where you were collaborated in a more formal setting in the studio?
ECoYTG: We did most of the writing in our apartment in west Hollywood. Before we started pre-production with Joe we were trying to come up with as many songs for the record as we could. We had no idea what to expect with Joe but he definitely put us to work. Once in the studio we really needed to step our playing up in order to get the live tracking as tight as possible.
DB: Your music is very anthemic. In what way do you feel that you represent your audience when writing and performing?
ECoYTG: I think one of the biggest things for me when I see a live band is their energy on stage. That energy is definitely felt by the audience. When we write and play live we want the crowd to enjoy watching us as much as we enjoy playing for them.
Thanks, Eric and Young the Giant!
For more information and links, check out the Young the Giant page on Roadrunner records.