Young the Giant: MB Evolution Tour Artist Spotlight

Young The Giant
Lauren Dokoff

Take a closer look at Young The Giant, one of three artists headlining the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour this summer & fall. See our full MB Evolution Tour hub here.

Formed in Irvine, California in 2004, Young the Giant were originally known as the Jakes, a combination of the first letter of each member's first name. After the release of the 2008 EP "Shake My Hand" and a few lineup changes, they drew national recognition for their upbeat, SoCal sunny brand of alt-rock, especially on the songs "Texas Tea" and "Paid the Piper." Soon thereafter, the group earned an opening slot for Kings of Leon's 2009 tour, had some tracks appear on TV shows, and got booked at several festivals.


The decision to change their name to Young The Giant came following the group's signing to Roadrunner. After all, with their current lineup – singer Sameer Gadhia, guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata, bassist Payam Doostzadeh, and drummer Francois Comtois – the first-letter acronym theme would make them the Jepfs. The new name popped into Gadhia's mind one day as a metaphor for their age and success. "We are still youthful, but when we aren’t, we still want to have that exuberance in our music," he told the O.C. Weekly in early 2010.

To record their debut album, the quintet enlisted producer Joe Chicarelli (the Strokes, My Morning Jacket, the Shins) and got some help from My Morning Jacket keyboardist Bo Koster on handful of tracks.

After the self-titled LP's October 2010 release, Young the Giant's star kept rising, as they headlined Billboard's 2011 SXSW showcase, played Lollapalooza, and had a breakout performance at the MTV Video Music Awards with their spirited rendition of "My Body," which soon hit No. 5 on the Alternative Songs chart.

Not long after that, a holdover from their Jakes days, "Cough Syrup," hit No. 3 on that chart and the album went gold, peaking at No. 2 on the Heatseekers chart. None other than Morrissey declared himself a devotee, saying, "I will be kneeling with gratitude on a hardwood floor for many years to come" about the album and calling Gadhia's voice "unbreakable."

A headlining tour and many more appearances on TV followed before the band took a break to work on their second full-length, "Mind Over Matter." This time they brought in Beck's longtime bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen as producer, following his work behind the boards with Tegan and Sara, M83, Neon Trees, and Paramore.

The first single, "It's About Time," displayed an even more powerful and poised sound, echoing Arctic Monkeys, and reached No. 2 on the Alternative Songs chart. "Crystallized" featured a cheerier Killers vibe.  The gentle, understated "Firelight" and its Eastern tones could've found itself just as home in the '60s folk scene as it does today. The title track, the band's latest single, is currently rocking the Alternative Songs chart.

See All MB Evolution Tour Headliner Spotlight Features:
Alabama Shakes | Young The Giant | Mayer Hawthorne
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