Guitars, Touring, and Invisibility, Oh My!
Loco’s Interview with Eric of Young the Giant
What’s the only way you can end a Spring Fling full of free bounce house, free funnel cakes, and free yellow sunglasses? A performance from alternative rock band, Young the Giant.
If you haven’t heard of Young the Giant before, chances are you may be living under a rock. You also may want to check out their music immediately. These guys have been blowing up the music scene, from a performance on the 2011 MTV VMAs, to late night appearances on Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Leno, and a feature of the song “Cough Syrup” on Fox’s Glee.
The band took a break in between a sold out 46-show headlining show, a spot on Bonnaroo and the Central Park Summerstage to appear atArcadia’s annual Woodstock concert.
Of course Loco would never miss out on an event like this one! Prior to their performance in the Kuch center we (Bri, Jeff, and myself) sat down with guitarist Eric Cannata to talk about touring, gear, and castles.
How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard Young the Giant before?
I think we’re an alternative rock band that gets a lot of influence from, everything from indie rock to electronic to hip hop to R&B. But it’s just your standard two guitars, bass, drums, and lead vocalist, and a little bit of keyboards. At some points we try to sound really big and epic and sometimes we try to go down and play some more Motown sounding stuff and a little bit of jazz and blues, as well.
So you guys have been doing this for a while now. Do you have any song writing rituals you’ve developed, or have anything that needs to happen when you sit down to write?
Not really. We try to go about it in a different way every time, but we end up falling into little things that we do. A lot of the time the songs start from just a guitar lick or a drum beat or a vocal melody. Usually what happens though is Sameer will sing a melody first and then write lyrics on top of the melody, whereas a lot of people write lyrics first or write lyrics while they’re writing the melody. It’s a little weird.
This is one of my favorite questions to ask because I love tech gear. What’s your favorite equipment to use?
My favorite guitar is my Strat, my Fender (Stratocaster). And then, my favorite amps, I use two amps. I use a small amp called a Swart Atomic Space Tone and another amp made by a company called Bad Cat. They kind of compliment each other. One of them is a bit dirtier and the other one is a lot cleaner.
Do you have a name for your guitar(s)?
I don’t actually. I don’t have a name for any of my equipment. I do have a little bird though that I put on the top of my amp, it’s for good luck. It’s a little gourd, a hand carved gourd that that’s kind of carved into a bird.
I really like that. I mean, you don’t see a lot of people do that. And that goes into my next question; do you have any superstitions when it comes to performing on stage?
Not really. I’ve had sometimes when I forgot the bird and I don’t really freak out about it too much. But it’s nice to have something there, you know. I actually have a bunch of birds that I want to bring out to put on my amps and stuff, but it just didn’t make sense to do that, to carry around a bunch of wooden birds. But maybe one day I’ll have a bunch of birds.
If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be?
I would love to write a tune with like Tom Petty or something. Something old school, The Band, or Fleetwood Mac or something.
As far as touring goes, what are some of the best and worst things for you?
My favorite thing is being able to travel and see a bunch of different cities. My least favorite thing is the lack of sleep. I personally don’t get a lot of sleep when I am on the road. It’s hard getting up exhausted, but that’s also my choice to stay up at night. It’s hard for me to sleep.
You’re video for “Cough Syrup”, as well as the song, has gotten a lot of positive recognition recently. Where did the concept for that video come from?
For that video we got a lot of different ideas from different directors and that one stood out for us just because of the visual aspect of having a bunch of synchronized swimmers as well as a bunch of micro-experiments kind of showing the viscosity of sound with water and all the weird experiments they were doing. But I think it turned out pretty well. Our last video, the one we just put out for “Apartment” is my favorite because instead of having a director come up with the idea we as a band kind of came up with the idea and we worked with a director who is our good friend, so it was a lot of fun kind of just going around in an old RV around LA and up to Malibu. Just fun hanging out with our friends.
(watch both the videos here)
“Cough Syrup” was also just featured on the finale of “Glee”. What effect, if any, has it had on the band?
I think it did a lot of good things for us. I think every one of those kinds of TV spots that we get, anything like that, really helps us grow our fan base. And the cool thing about “Glee” was that it really had a good message in that episode. I’ve never watched “Glee” except for that one part of that one episode, so we were kind of worried about going into it. We didn’t know if we wanted to do it or not but once we were explained the episode and the meaning of the episode we thought it fit. We’ve gotten good feedback from it too, as well as people telling us it meant a lot to them that that song came on and that episode meant a lot to themselves or their families.
Do you have a favorite place to tour?
I don’t know. I have a lot of favorites. I think because there are a lot of places that are so different from one another. I really love doing the United States because I’m from here. There’re a lot of big cities in the states that I love including LA, New York, Austin, Texas, Nashville, Tennessee, New Orleans. The thing is there are so many different cities and they all have something different about them.
Since being a part of the band, what has been the craziest thing to happen to you as far as fans go?
As far as fans go, nothing much. Well, there are some interesting people but nothing too crazy. I mean there are always some people that are just, I guess they don’t know how to act when they see someone that they are a big fan of; they just kind of are frozen. I think that’s the most awkward thing if you come up and you are just like (frozen). And it’s weird for us because we’re really young. And we’re also really fortunate to be in this position and to gain all of this success so fast, so it’s crazy because some people come up and
say “thank you so much for coming, the show was great” and then some people come up and are just like frozen. I guess that’s the weirdest thing for us because we’re just, people, you know, we’re kids.
What is your opinion on castles (only because we have one here)?
The one right here? It’s actually really beautiful. I was just going to say, the whole campus, I need to take a walk around. I went on the field and sat on one of those chairs and was looking around, and I was like, this place is really beautiful. I love castles.
Did you know that it’s modeled after the same castle that they used to model Hogwarts after?
Really? I’m seriously in Harry Potter right now.
There’s also a sorting hat in the attic, just a secret of the castle.
Really? That’s rad. Yeah, I do really like the buildings up here. You know, the east coast schools have the really, really cool architecture, I think it’s really cool.
(From Bri) If you could be invisible for the day, what would you do?
That’s a terrible question. (Laughter from the table). No, it’s a great question. I’m kidding. It’s just, what you could come up with. I don’t know, I would, what would you do? I would play pranks on people I guess. People could get weird with that one though.
Is there a specific member of your band that you would prank if you were invisible?
Yes! (laughter). His name is Payam and he’s wearing a headband over there (points to Payam) talking in another interview.
What would you prank him with?
Shave his head off, shave his hair. He would be devastated. He’s got long hair. He’s got really long hair so he would literally look totally different with a shaved head.
And with that I think we are done. Thank you very much!
For sure! Thank you guys.
After the interview, it was time to get ready for the show. A growing crowd
gathered around the stage in anticipation. Text is not enough to capture the performance given by Young the Giant; these guys are as solid sounding live as they are on recordings.Arcadiastudents were treated with hits such as “Apartment”, “Cough Syrup”, and “My Body” to name a few. From beach balls
to crowd surfers, to singing and dancing our hearts out, dare I say it, they gave a flawless set.
In the end, it was on of the craziest nights of my life. Beginning with interviewing Eric and ending with an incredible performance, this is a Woodstock I will not soon forget.
What did we learn today? Young the Giant is amazing. And if you’re like me and can not get enough of this band make sure to head to their website! Don’t forget to leave your comments below!
Loco would like to thank Young the Giant and all of the wonderful people who manage their press! Thank you for an amazing interview and an even more amazing performance.