Young the Giant Playing the Bowl

Drummer Francois Comtois Talks New Album, 'Home of the Strange'

"Seven years ago, we played for a crowd of 200 people here in San Francisco," lead singer Sameer Gadhia of Young the Giant told fans at Outside Lands 2017. Pictured here, on the Lands End main stage at Outside Lands, they performed for an audience of 40,000.
Marianne Kuga

Known for its poetic prowess set to engrossing instrumentations, Los Angeles alternative-rock band Young the Giant will pay the Santa Barbara Bowl a visit this Friday as part of a national tour promoting new album Home of the Strange. The group’s eponymous 2010 album featured hits “My Body” and “Apartment,” both chart toppers that demonstrate the group’s blend of intelligent lyrics and dynamic melodies that form a unique narrative. The band’s 2014 album, Mind over Matter, explores a cool, more electric sound evocative of the 1980s, and last year’s Home of the Strange showcases Young the Giant’s artistic maturation with a collection of distinct musical narratives. Drummer Francois Comtois revealed a bit about the group’s mutability and creative processes.

Lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia stated with this record that you’ve “fully embraced what it is to be lyricists.” Can you explain your methodology when it comes to putting a song together?

There’s sort of a comfortable process where a lot of the time you let the music dictate the melody, and then the lyrics will rise. There are times when maybe a phrase or a line or an idea will be the jumping-off point and then the melody comes, but for the most part, the arrangement and the music start the ball rolling. There’s definitely a desire to try and explore different ways of doing it which we’re starting to mess with. But sometimes when you’ve got a good thing going, you don’t need to mess with it.

Courtesy Photo

Sameer also said about this new album that you’re “in the story more than ever.” What story is Young the Giant working to tell?

It’s kind of just whatever story is compelling to us at any given moment, and there’s always a sense of that. Sameer started a lot of groundwork on our first record, which he wrote pretty much all of the lyrics for, but there was this sense that the words would take on kind of a nebulous meaning. We met with a bunch of great teachers and mentors over the years who always brought us back to “What is the song about? Is every lyric in service of the story?” When you have that mindset, anything can be a story. Pretty much anything can be written into a song.

How has the experience of putting together Home of the Strange differed from your previous two albums?

It was definitely a lot more collaborative. It’s not something that happens all the time, but we’re happy to be able to do it because once you get into that dynamic and you’re able to bounce ideas off of each other, I think it makes for stronger, tighter lyrics. The message ends up being the focus as opposed to sometimes when you’re by yourself, it’s easier to flow into the lyrical, poetic ether.

Was there any specific overall inspiration for your newest album?

I think it came from a lot of different places. For me personally, it was just getting the opportunity to travel in the capacity that we do. It’s disarming to meet people when you’re a musician — a lot of people can be very guarded with good reason — but as a musician, maybe people open in ways they wouldn’t necessarily otherwise. So just getting to hear these stories — basically we’re all connected in so many ways, and, for the most part, everyone is just trying to live a happy life. There’s something so simple and powerful about that and that was the thing that we kept on going back to.


Young the Giant plays the S.B. Bowl (1122 N Milpas St.) on Friday, August 25, at 6 p.m. Call (805) 962-7411 or visit


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