Young the Giant was in a perilous situation before their 3:40 p.m. set this past Saturday at Outside Lands. Their early morning flight from Vancouver (where they played at the Squamish Valley Music Festival the night before) was delayed three hours and the probability of weaving their way through Saturday afternoon traffic in San Francisco with only two hours before they were to play the main stage looked iffy at best. After their tour manager made a few phone calls, the guys were whisked away into two Lincoln Navigators where they got The Beatles treatment. Yes, Irvine's own Young the Giant received a police escort to Golden Gate Park.
“It was fun, it was like a little motorcade,” singer Sameer Gadhia says with a wry grin as we speak near the festival's media area. “We were blasting some classical music inside.”
“People automatically turned their head looking at us as we passed by like 'who is this?' added drummer Francois Comtois. “This was a full-on 25 minute police escort.”
Over the course of the summer, the group has sprinkled in a few one-off festival dates to break the monotony of recording their second album. “It's nice to take breaks from being in the studio,” Gadhia explains. “We've been in the studio six days a week and it's nice to get a little bit of a break from that.”
Young the Giant are currently holed up in a house in the South Bay where they've been laying down tracks with former Nine Inch Nails touring bassist and longtime Beck collaborator Justin Meldal-Johnsen. After the success of their self titled debut, the quintet could have worked with anyone. But they chose Meldal-Johnsen because of their shared vision in helping the band's sound evolve during the recording sessions.
Some of the songs were written as long as 18 months ago, which the singer says lessened the usual pressures that a band faces on its second album. “All of the songs came from a very natural place and it hasn't really been that different for us,” he explains. “This isn't the typical sophomore coping with fame thing. It's more about growing up and universal themes that touch on things people can relate to that aren't just in this line of work.”
According to Gadhia, the album is about “65-70 percent done” and that the songs are a good representation of where the band is at sonically. They've experimented with new sounds, including adding an electronic layer, but at its core, Gadhia says that Young the Giant is still a five-piece rock band and that anything that they add to their sound is simply complementary. While their goal is remain rooted as a rock band, but they aren't ruling out expanding and evolving their sound.
Up next: Watch a video of their new song “Anagram,” performed at Outside Lands
The band will choose from 14 songs they've recorded, with the best 10-to-12 making the album. Both Gadhia and Comtois agree that the songwriting has become more meticulous and focused. “Anagram,” a rocker that the band put on display on Saturday afternoon, is a bit different than the band has done in terms of song tempo. Even so, the song didn't sound too far removed from what they've done in the past and was warmly received.
As for the rest of the year, the duo expects the band to finish tracking by the end of the month, with the mixing slated to be finished in September. The tentative plan is to have some new Young the Giant music out by the end of the year. When asked if they'll be playing their first local show since last summer's at the Pacific Ampitheatre, the duo look at each and smile.
“Nothing local. Well, at least nothing local that's been announced yet,” the singer says coyly.
Until then, Young the Giant fans will have to wait a few months longer to hear the Irvine-natives' anticipated follow up.