YOUNG THE GIANT: Mind Over Matter

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photos / Jen Senn

assistant photo / David Aronson

grooming / Frida Norrman

story / Tiffany Diane Tso

As the Young The Giant gentlemen sat at the immortalized Yaffa Café in East Village, they joked about how they chose each member of the band based on looks, fitness and style. In reality, these guys, Sameer Gadhia (lead vocals), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar, vocals), Francois Comtois (drum, vocals), and Payam Doostzadeh (bass), have all been friends since high school or earlier and have been playing music together almost as long as they’ve been pubescent. That isn’t to say they don’t all fit the dreamboat mold.

However, the difference between these guys and their “rock star” celebrity counterparts is that they are not set out to be models or actors, or at all image-based and frivolous. They are all about the music. In fact, they even skipped out on our offers of hair and makeup, so what you’re seeing is 100% the real deal, ladies and gents.


Now, with the release of their sophomore album Mind Over Matter, released Jan 21 through Fueled By Ramen, Young The Giant is proving to have staying power, taking leaps and bounds from their college touring days. “Transitioning from a full-time student to a touring musician was perhaps surprisingly pretty awesome. We played a lot of college shows in the early days, which allowed us to live out some semblance of a college social life,” Francois said about the early YTG days. “These early tours had us sleeping on frat house couches or in the living rooms of newly-made friends.”

Before making music a career, these guys were underage co-eds at various California colleges, studying for their degrees and only pursuing music on the side. Payam was studying biomechanical engineering; Sameer, human biology; Jacob, marine biology; Eric, undeclared (the entire band dropped out after Eric’s first semester to pursue music full-time); and Francois, international relations and poli-sci.

“We all have ambitions of continuing our education, although not necessarily through traditional schooling,” Francois said. “Taking time away from the classroom allowed us to realize that there are many ways to achieve your goals and that the most important thing is to garner experience.”

Nothing these guys do seems to be by the books, their sound diverse and ever changing. They go from folksy to power pop to rock ‘n roll, sometimes within a single song. You have got to hand it to the guys; they have range. “We tend to think of genre on a song-by-song basis,” Francois stated when asked to define the sound singularly. “One of the benefits of incorporating everyone into the writing process is that a song’s initial spark can come from a large range of influences.”

Mind Over Matter is testament to that very claim, with songs like “Paralysis” making you dance around your apartment, “Firelight” having you stare out your rain-dewed window deep in thought, and “It’s About Time” inducing some head bangs and fist pumps.

No doubt this band is going strong after their long awaited and diligently crafted number two. For the next few months, they will be touring the U.S. and Canada – with two shows already sold out. Not that they’d brag about it or anything!

Sameer Gadhia

                                       Jacob Tilley

Francois Comtois
Payam Doostzadeh

Eric Cannata

For more pictures of us hangin, eatin, and drankin with Young The Giant go here
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