Search The Line of Best Fit
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I Don't Want To Be a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here: TLOBF meets Young The Giant

I Don't Want To Be a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here: TLOBF meets Young The Giant

29 August 2011, 11:00
Words by Sam Lee

Young The Giant’s Sameer Gadhia is in London when I call him, having arrived in the UK earlier that day with the rest of the band for a hectic day’s worth of promo, and is set to fly out again the very next morning. Despite his gruelling schedule, he seems in good spirits, talking with the confidence of a man who is finally starting to reap the rewards of seven years of hard graft.

“When we first started, we didn’t have any idea of what it would take to get us to where we are now,” Gadhia says. “So the first couple of years were more just for fun. It was still a lot of work – we were playing a lot of shows – but it’s been in the last couple of years that we’ve seen some success. Has our success has been a long time coming? I think so. We feel like we’ve been working for it for a while, but we’re also pretty fortunate that it’s happened to us pretty quick.”

Although they have only used the name Young The Giant since early 2010, all five members have “known each other since were little kids,” something that has helped them deal with their rise to prominence. “We’ve always dreamt of doing this, and we’ve always realised how lucky we are, and I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where we let it go to our heads,” says Gadhia.

Operating under the moniker of The Jakes prior to 2010, the band went through several personnel changes, although all five current members have been part of the line-up since around 2008. So what brought about the name change? “It was both symbolic and practical. The Jakes was a lot of different people switching around, and it was just for fun. We decided we’d change the band name because we’d gotten signed through Shake My Hand , and we wanted to be recognised as who we were, not be encompassed by all the old material that didn’t quite represent us.”

A lot of thought went into deciding which tracks would represent them on their latest album. “It’s a gentle transition of showing where we’d come from and where we were at that time, as well as where we can go,” Gadhia tells me. “So it really does encompass music that we’d written three years ago, up to music that we’d written spontaneously in the studio.”

Even though the songs on the record span the past several years, they all have the same carefree, sun-drenched positivity, something that Gadhia claims was just as much down to their personal situations as their geographical location. “We were all in really good spirits. We’d just taken time out of school, we were living on the beach and not really having to do that much, just getting to hang out and play music all day, and I think that really came out in the music.” He says that they’d like to record their next album in California too, although, maybe surprisingly, it’s not just the sun, sea and sand that are keeping them there. “We know that we want to stay near friends and family. They’re always a big force in our writing and our… just staying sane. We’ve discussed the possibilities of going somewhere different, but we feel really comfortable being at home, and writing at home.”

It’s clear how much Gadhia and his band-mates value being around their loved ones, although he becomes slightly sheepish when I question him about his girlfriend’s feelings on his busy schedule, “I’ve known her for a long time so she’s kinda used to it… she’s pretty patient with everything,” he says. Thankfully, he’s more forthcoming when asked about a less intimate relationship – that of the band and producer Joe Chiccarelli, with whom they worked on their debut album. “I think a lot of it was wisdom, he was like a father figure to us in a lot of ways. He didn’t have any hesitation in telling us where we had weaknesses, and that was really, really strong for us. He really whipped us into shape and showed us what the standard was for being professional musicians. We’ve learnt so much from him, and we’ll keep all the lessons with us as we go on and write more albums and more songs.” Despite this, he says that it isn’t a relationship that will continue on their next album, “We all love Joe, so maybe sometime in the future… but we all want someone willing to step outside the box and try something a little different,” he says, the tone of his voice suggesting a sincere fondness for Chiccarelli. But although he hints that there are some ideas in the pipeline, he won’t mention any names, “Nothing’s really confirmed yet, but I think we’ve found a couple of people who we’re willing to work with.”

Mysterious producers aside, for their new Remix EP the band have been teaming up with their most enthusiastic collaborators to date – their fans. As Gadhia explains, “A couple of bands like Two Door Cinema Club and Tokyo Police Club started doing remixes, so it just came to be. We were like, wait a second, there are people that are making remixes who are just fans, and there are bands doing it as well – we might as well make a remix EP.” But it wasn’t just the ease of setting up such a project that appealed to Gadhia, “We really enjoy the fan interaction, being able to let people feel like we listen to what they do – and we do, we appreciate everything they do for us – is really cool. It’s cool how people translate and perceive our songs.”

While he readily admits that it hasn’t always been one of their strengths, Gadhia says that they are finally realising the importance of fan interaction. “It’s a way for people to latch on to something that they like… we want people to feel heard, it’s something that is pretty important to us. And it’s also fun to take pictures and upload them and see what people have to say about them. It’s a cool way to interact.”

Even as he’s saying this, he doesn’t seem totally enamoured with the idea of being a ‘celebrity’, and he almost seems relieved when asked if he’s at all uncomfortable with the prospect of being famous. “Yeah… it’s very strange. Some people really do enjoy fame, but we’re kind of confused and baffled by it all. We’re just, like, normal guys, there’s nothing ridiculous about us, we don’t have these personas or characters that we’re trying to fulfill. To a certain extent it’s cool, but sometimes it gets a little overwhelming, so we try to distance ourselves from that.”

Distancing themselves from fame might prove to be difficult over the coming months. With a huge US tour with Incubus and an appearance at the MTV VMAs in their diaries, not to mention Gadhia’s new friendship with Morrissey (“We email each other now… I get a couple of emails every other couple of days just telling me what he’s up to,”) the chances of them being able to take it easy any time soon are looking fairly slim. And even though they haven’t finished doing the rounds off of the back of their debut album, they’re already thinking about its successor, although unsurprisingly, Gadhia is pretty level-headed about the whole thing.

“We don’t feel any pressure with this next album, we’re just excited to do what we want to do. People can talk as much as they want, but when we’re writing, we’re in our own little world and we just block all of that stuff out, and its just us. I’m just excited for that.” It’s a typically positive and refreshingly simplistic statement from Gadhia, and a succinct summary of what seems to be his (and Young The Giant’s) outlook on life.

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