By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
The band formerly known as the Jakes take the stage for the first time as Young the Giant
The band formerly known as the Jakes are experiencing a crash course in rock stardom. During the past two years, the group of 19- to 21-year-olds have released the superb EP Shake My Hand, opened for childhood heroes Kings of Leon in Chicago, had a band member leave over creative differences (keyboardist Ehson Hashemian), inked a deal with major label Roadrunner Records, quit college, dropped their day jobs, and relocated from Irvine to Newport Beach to LA. In addition, after playing as the Jakes since puberty, the alt-rock band with ethnically eclectic influences—you’ll hear a bit of Bollywood in singer Sameer Gadhia’s trill, snippets of Caribbean and Mediterranean influences here and there—have rebranded themselves: The Jakes are now Young the Giant, a story the Weekly broke with a Heard Mentality blog post on Dec. 9.
“It doesn’t really have a physical meaning,” Gadhia says of the new name. “It came at a weird point for us.” Since the band already had a following and an established sound, the Jakes chose a handle to epitomize the band they’d become. As they racked their brains, Young the Giant just sort of popped out of Gadhia’s mouth. “I was thinking about what we want to portray,” he says. “We are still youthful, but when we aren’t, we still want to have that exuberance in our music.”
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With new name established, the band—Gadhia (vocals/percussion), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar/vocals), Payam Doostzadeh (bass) and Francois Comtois (drums/vocals)—recently holed up in LA with Grammy-winning producer Joe Chiccarelli (White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Shins) to complete Young the Giant’s Roadrunner debut. They decided to not drastically alter the band’s sound despite signing with a big label best known for hard rock and metal acts such as Nickelback [cringe] and Slipknot. Yeah, the decision raised eyebrows.
“People make the mistake that [Roadrunner] is going to try and turn us into Nickelback or have us tour with Nickelback,” Gadhia says.
A rather special record deal with the Warner Music Group subsidiary sealed the partnership for Young the Giant. Roadrunner offered the band one album for sure, with the possibility of another five if things go well. “Roadrunner need to prove themselves in this genre, and so do we,” Gadhia says.
On Tuesday at Detroit Bar, Young the Giant will unveil the new moniker for the home crowd. But there will probably be plenty of attendees who don’t think of them as the Jakes or Young the Giant, but rather as guys who grew up in Irvine. Band members graduated from Irvine, Woodbridge and Northwood high schools, all in the famously stucco-ed city.
After graduating from high school, the band members went their separate ways and attended various California colleges. But they continued to make music together, and by the time of their sophomore year in January 2008, they had an album’s worth of songs ready to record. “We realized things were going well, so we all took academic leaves of absence,” Gadhia says.
By summer, they were signed (though Hashemian departed soon after).
The band have continued writing new material ever since. “So far, we’ve gotten a pretty good reaction,” Gadhia says. “I think we finally locked in together musically and performance-wise.
“We’re there, and it’s fluid and easy to exchange ideas,” he continues. “We all write together. We hang out together 24 hours a day, and we’re all living in one house.”
Their Newport Beach bungalow-by-the-sea digs helped inspire the new recordings. “The CD was turning out to be a summer album, anticipating summer,” Gadhia says. Although the nomadic tribe currently lives in LA, the members hope to be homeless soon. “It depends how everything is received,” Gadhia says. “I don’t want to tour for the sake of touring. We would like to have it go as long as possible. The second we realize things aren’t working out for us, then it could just pretty much end.”
The roommate situation makes going on the road together less daunting. “I think it’s harder to live together 24 hours than to go on the road,” Gadhia says. “When it comes to cleaning the kitchen and adjusting to each other’s lifestyles, that’s way more work.”