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Young The Giant: Coming Home

American alt rock band Young The Giant’s Indian-American frontman Sameer Gadhia on debuting at SulaFest 2015 and celebrity fans

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Anurag Tagat Feb 02, 2015
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(from left)Eric Cannata, Sameer Gadhia, Jacob Tilley, François Comtois and Payam Doostzadeh. Photo: Lauren Dukoff

(from left) Eric Cannata, Sameer Gadhia, Jacob Tilley, François Comtois and
Payam Doostzadeh. Photo: Lauren Dukoff

If he wanted, Sameer Gadhia could have graduated out of Stan­ford University in human biology and probably landed a cushy job, like many Ivy League college students. But when he formed the band, the Jakes, with school friends and turned it into American alt rock band Young the Giant, he knew he loved music more than studying. Says Gad­hia over phone, “I was passionate, I loved school and I liked my classes and I’d made a lot of friends. But I think maybe I was in denial about ”” or maybe I hadn’t thought about ”” how important music was to me. That it was my true calling.”

The Jakes recorded a song called “Cough Syrup” on their first EP in 2008 and later became Young the Giant’s first big hit, re­leased on their 2011 self-titled album. The band went on to play major festivals such as South by Southwest and Sasquatch! Music Festival. Young The Giant also played on UK TV music show Later”¦ With Jools Holland, where they found an unlikely new fan in UK singer Morrissey. Although they’ve got fans like actor Zach Braff, Gadhia remembers the time when Morrissey, usually known for his rants, proclaimed Young the Giant to be his new favorite band, “That was one of the weirdest celebrity fans I think any of us would ever expect to have. We had email correspondence [with him] for a very long time, he’s a very funny guy.” They’ve also found a fan in another hothead ”“ alt rockers Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman Billy Cor­gan, who they will tour with in March, in­cluding a set at Lollapalooza Brazil.

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Before they head out to Brazil, Young the Giant make their India debut at wine and music festival, SulaFest in February in Na­shik. Gadhia, who is an Indi­an-American and visits relatives in India regularly, says that he hasn’t had much time to check out Indian bands or venues after releasing their second album, Mind Over Matter, in 2014. Says Gadhia, “I’ve always been listen­ing to music, but I still haven’t got into the scene as much as I wanted to, and hopefully with this trip, we’ll all get some bands we’ll root for.” The vocal­ist also hopes that their India show will open doors for future touring opportunities. Gad­hia adds, “As of now, this [SulaFest] is the only one on the books, but we hope to make this a place we can come to and we realize and see the potential in India for touring. Unfortunately, not too many bands make their way over there. We were given an offer to play about a year-and-a-half ago, but it didn’t make sense with our schedules.”

This time around, Gadhia has got his schedule all figured out, coming in early to visit his grandparents in Ahmedabad and then exploring Mumbai before head­ing to Nashik. Young the Giant head back to the U.S for a tour immediately after, which kicks off on February 13th. The band will be writing material and occasionally checking into studios across the country to work on new material for their third album. Although Gadhia doesn’t have much to say about their new al­bum’s musical direction, he says it’s their “chance to breathe.” Adds Gadhia, “We’ve learnt a lot from the first two records. I think it’s more of an internal thing; Little things and figuring out how to perfect or improve on our craft. [It’s about] not falling into the same traps, or even traps that works sometimes. Just to continually try to work ”” that’s our main focus.”

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As for Stanford, Gadhia hasn’t closed the door on studying yet, but he says he’ll take his time to decide. Says Gadhia, “I’m not sure if that [returning to studies] is going to be in two years or in 10 years. Right now, everything is open and one thing I do know is that I feel like I’m challenging myself, like I’m learning a lot over here. I don’t feel like I’m stagnant. I continue to learn, read, write, discover new things. For me, it’s also an education, in a lot of ways.”

This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

Young the Giant performs at SulaFest 2015 at Sula Vineyards, Nashik between February 7th and 8th. Entry: Rs 1,900 (day ticket), Rs 3,000 (season ticket). Buy tickets here.

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