Young the Giant, the band formerly known as the Jakes and formerly residents of Newport Beach via Irvine, have had a very good year. After releasing their self-titled debut to critical acclaim (even Morrissey is a fan, saying, "I could break down with happiness at the new debut CD by Young the Giant. . . . It is the whole thing. . . . It is the perfect tone . . . and Sameer's voice is unbreakable. . . . Once every 3,000 years, a band comes along who restore that precious component of faith. Had I the gift of adequate words, I would express more than mere thanks"), they're charting on Alternative Record Chards, doing the festival rounds and even doing charity work with The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Orange County. Drummer/vocalist Francois Comtois talks to OC Weekly about the long road to fame.
Francoise Comtois: It started in high school, and it was a way to stay busy. Then when we started college, we decided it was time to make something more than a hobby out of it. We started to get some attention from people in the music industry. Then we had to make a decision about what we wanted to do and taking care of our responsibilities with school and the band. We decided to take some time off of school and work, and then we started to work on the recording process.
How did you come up with the name for the band?
We came up with a bunch of names, and everyone had his own opinion. This was the name everyone agreed on, and we just went with it. Honestly, there really is no meaning behind it. It was just the way it sounded together that we liked.
What are some of your favorite songs that you like to play?
As far as playing songs live, I love playing "St. Walker." My favorite songs off the record are "Islands" and "Guns Out." We play those songs so much!
How has your life changed since you formed?
Well, we were all college students, and now we spend basically 90 percent of our time traveling and on the road. There's a set of obstacles and difficulties that accompany that, but it's such an exciting thing to do, to go and play at a different city every night. And it's amazing that now we get the opportunity to play miles away from what we were doing while we were in college.
What are some of the biggest goals you hope to accomplish as a band?
We look forward to doing more high-profile headlining. We did some headlining throughout the first quarter of the year, but now we're trying to make the move out to the bigger rooms. One of the best things would be having a bus on which we can all sleep in while on tour. Hopefully, that and more things will come in the future.
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What is your favorite part about going on tour? What are some of your memorable and most interesting experiences you've had while on tour?
Well, just the sense of adventure. Going on tour is probably one of the most exciting times that I've ever had. It's a lot of fun, especially because we're all so close. There was one time when we went on tour . . . It was my birthday, and we were in Berlin, so we had a fun, crazy weekend, just playing music, meeting up with friends and going to exciting places. We're going to be going to Indonesia and Australia at the end of July, so I'm very excited about that.
Are you currently working on a new album or recording new songs?
It's difficult, especially when you're doing a lot of stuff between press and traveling and trying to save some time and rest. The little time that we do get is when we go home, and we try to spend it with friends. But the idea is that we're hopefully going to be on the bus, probably in late August or September. Hopefully, we'll have more time because we won't have to worry about driving so much and we'll have more of a crew to help us day to day, and we'll concentrate more on writing. It can get frustrating playing the same songs over and over again, so we're trying to come up with new material, but up until this point, we really haven't had the time.
How did you get in touch with producer Joe Chiccarelli? How is your relationship with him?
Our label got in touch with Joe. He was very passionate about the project, and he ended up coming to our apartment in Hollywood and hung out with us while we played some songs that we had up until that point. He was very excited about working with us. We have a lot of respect for him. He has a tremendous ability to capture whatever sounds he wants to produce. We're so happy that we got the chance to work with him.
What is your affiliation with the Coffee Bean and Tea
Leaf? How are you helping them raise money for the Orange County Education?
We're still trying to figure out the basics with the Coffee Bean about this, but we all went to Orange County schools, so we're all trying to raise funds and awareness toward getting a proper education, and we're happy to do that.