Well, Austin City Limits 2016 is finally over. The week after is always a somber one, but in only twelve short months we’ll be back at it.
The allure of ACL, apart from the music, finally hit me this year – you can be whoever you want to be inside the festival gates. You’re a buttoned-up professional during the week, but once a year you want to throw on a tank-top and show off your collection of tats? Go for it. Want to get in and position yourself in the shade of a tree and just enjoy the music? Do it. In a sea of sun-soaked, buzzed music lovers, nobody cares who you like or don’t like and nobody worries about your purple hair because Band of Horses starts in five minutes and they need to grab another beer first.
I was lucky enough to obtain a Media Pass this year and had the opportunity to schedule some interviews with several of the acts.
I spent some time talking with Corbu, VHS Collection, Bayonne, and, yes, the gentlemen of Young The Giant.
Sameer Gadhia – lead vocals
Francois Comtois – drums
Jacob Tilley – guitar
Eric Cannata – guitar
Payam Doostzadeh – bass
Date/time: Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, 1:30pm
Location: YTG tour bus
The Woodlands Journal: My body has been featured in a Michelob Ultra commercial, it was on that MTV Teen Wolf show, sometimes it will be in the background of FOX Sports commercial transitions, you performed it live on the VMA’s. If not for that song, where would Young The Giant be right now?
Eric Cannata: Well, hopefully it would be another song that would have connected. I mean, I think for us the two songs that helped launch us were “Cough Syrup”, which was the song for which we actually got signed from, and “My Body” was a song that I think kinda’ had the same amount of success on the radio. So, those two songs did definitely propel us to kind of be able to do what we do and tour at the capacity we do, but, you know, I think nonetheless we would be continuing to make music and I think, regardless if we were in smaller rooms or, you know, whatever it may be – who knows? We might be broke and have day jobs.
WJ: What is everyone’s college status right now?
Payam Doostzadeh: Deferred from college about six years ago, seven years ago – all of us at the same time. We actually all told our parents we were – we basically asked for their permission… their BLESSING, rather, to leave college for a year to try to get signed, and we did.
EC: Right before we would have had to go back, in the Summer of 2009, we got signed and, I’m the youngest, that would have been my, had I continued school, that would have been my sophomore year going back into college. The other guys had been in college for a year or two years. “Academic leave” is the nice way of putting it.
WJ: If you guys went back in time and you turned turned a street corner and encountered those younger kids who used to play Dean’s Credit Clothing, or Emo’s – if you talked them face-to-face – what would you tell them now? “Do this, don’t do this…”? Any advice?
EC: Everything in moderation. I would tell my younger self do not smoke cigarettes – which is part of the moderation thing. I’d say to not ever pick up cigarettes. If I could go back to my 17 year-old self I’d say that and I’d say everything in moderation.
PD: I would say “buy Tesla stock”.
EC: I was gonna’ say that! I was gonna’ say “buy Tesla stock”!
Jacob Tilley: That’s what I was gonna’ say.
PD: Or all the Super Bowl scores for the next five years. But Eric had the correct answer.
WJ: Payam is being all “Marty McFly” and Eric’s giving life lessons.
EC: He’s being Biff, is who he’s being. “What are you, chicken?!” “Nobody calls me chicken!”
WJ: I was a big fan, obviously, of “Shake My Hand”. Why the re-recording and re-structuring of “Couch Syrup” and “Garands”? What was the thinking behind those?
EC: I think when we got signed and we found the producer we wanted to work with for our first record, it made sense to – Cough Syrup was the obvious song that pretty much enabled us to get signed – for continuity, sonically, for continuity for the album, it made sense to re-record them, if you’re working with one producer. You know, we’re a band that works with one guy for each record. We don’t have a bunch of co-writers, we don’t have different producers coming in and out. We have one guy and we stick to that person and we want the album to have an aesthetic that has continuity and is, you know – so the version of “Cough Syrup” that was on ‘Shake My Hand’, for instance, we didn’t think would be at the same level, sonically, as we could have had it with Joe Chiccarelli, our first producer, which, I agreed, was the case. Once, you know, we re-did it – we even changed the structure a tiny bit. Like at the end of the first chorus we added a tag or something. But ya, it definitely helped with the continuity of the record. We tend to get “demo-itis”, in that sense, that we were like, “Wait, change ANYTHING?” But, you know, we all really love the song too.
WJ: Your latest record, Home of the Strange, compared to your previous two, comes across as a slower, more deliberate approach. Was the the intent? Or if not, how does the sound differ from your initial outset?
PD: It’s not. We essentially take it one song at a time. So, the album is a collection of songs. It’s a shortened list of songs that we wrote. So, say we wrote twentyfive songs, we only recorded thirteen, fourteen, and we put eleven on the record. And, I think it just happens to be that way, where, you know, maybe some of our songs have a slower tempo or whatever, but we don’t necessarily approach it like that like, oh, we’re gonna write it this way –
*Drummer, Francois enters the bus*
WJ: Hello, Mr. Francois. Good to see you.
Francois Comtois: Hey! Ya, good to see you too.
PD: It just happens to be that way.
EC: I think on this third record it was us kind of figuring out the groove that we kind of sit in best. We notice at shows when we watch the crowd bobbing their heads – it’s the groove that I think we all prefer when it comes to us as music listeners, you know, it’s a little bit more laid back. A little bit less information going at once. And I really think that for us, as music listeners, this new album is definitely sitting in the groove that we all prefer to play in and in regard to the music that we actually listen to.
PD: It’s really that we’re not smart enough to deliberately write…
EC: Ya, it’s just more comfortable for us to play a more mid-tempo kind of grooving song than some of our faster songs.
*Lead singer, Sameer enters the bus”
Sameer Gadhia: What’s up, dude?! Nice to see you!
WJ: Ya, you too.
SG: How you doin’?
TWJ: Doing very well.
WJ: So, who do you guys want to see out here?
EC: LCD Soundsystem
PD: We saw Kendrick last night. That was…
JT: I wish we’d seen Radiohead. I’ve already seen them this year, but I could do one more dose of it.
EC: I saw Andrew Bird last night. LCD is great. Radiohead’s amazing.
TWJ: They were ok…
EC: Actually, someone said that…
PD: I heard mixed things…
EC: They said it was a weird set.
WJ: They closed with Karma Police.
EC: When they closed with Karma Poilce at OutsideLands, I went freaking crazy!
PD: It’s just a classic.
EC: They also started out with…
PD: Burn The Witch
DC: And into Daydreaming? Just insane. Sounds so good.
PD: Maybe we’ll catch Local Natives if we have time.
WJ: Well alright.
PD: It was great seeing you, man.
DC: I’m gonna drink this whole Coconut Water. I don’t give a shit. You still recording? Good you got that.
WJ: I’m gonna transcribe that. That’ll be the last comment of this interview.