Having been together for more than a decade and never failing to produce fresh creative ideas, alt-rock group Young the Giant has seamlessly transitioned from emergent indie hopefuls to seasoned music-industry veterans. Now in the midst of a massive world tour following its ambitious fourth studio album, the sharp and well-rehearsed band looks to show its home region — the band formed in Irvine, California — that the group isn’t going anywhere.
Ahead of Young the Giant’s Thursday, August 8, stop at the Santa Barbara Bowl, I had a chat with drummer and songwriter François Comtois to discuss the tour, the creative process, and the band’s grander artistic journey over the years.
What is your role in the band? I think one of the main things about our band is there’s a lot of songwriters. I write a lot of songs myself, and I think it’s a really important skill to have going into an endeavor like this. I love drummers who are just drummers, but for me it’s always been more about what’s gonna make the song better and how do we take it to the next level and make it creative and fresh. I definitely love being a part of the writing process from start to finish with the music, the melodies, and the lyrics. We kind of have a group where we all recognize that people have those strengths, and we want to take advantage of that. We’re very open to collaboration.
So you’d say your music is a pretty cohesive and accurate representation of all members. Yeah. I think it’s pretty unusual as far as my understanding of other bands, but what you get out of that is these five different perspectives that give you more of a strong basis. At the end of the day, when I’m not just writing by myself and have that basis to work with, I think the song ends up being stronger.
That sounds like a difficult balance for a band to pull off. We’ve been able to make it work. Now that we’ve known each other for such a long time, we understand each other’s rhythms and moods. You spend so much time together on the road and in the studio to come up with something, so it’s really important to have that love for one another and that communication.
Young the Giant has been successful for a long time now. What kind of creative changes have gone on, and what have you learned about yourself? After we released that first album, we quickly found ourselves in a place where we were able to make more music for a longer time. Just these past three or four years, we have really started to realize how incredible that is and how fortunate we were to come into this place where we’re just writing music because we enjoy it. We never really thought about getting signed or getting on the radio or anything like that, and all of these things just fell into place. Looking back, I’m so happy that it went that way, because it gave us a different perspective than people who are trying to achieve something very specific from the get-go. We always just did it because we love to make music together.
You were also good at defining yourselves past those first two hits and kept lasting value. That seems hard to do in this corner of music. I think a really important part of it is you just have to be able to get on the road and put on a really good live show. I think one strength is that we can really re-create our songs live, and we’re so lucky to have such a dynamic frontman with Sameer [Gadhia]. Also, just the fact that we told ourselves early on we aren’t gonna try to make “Cough Syrup 2,” ya know? We decided to push ourselves, and we’ve been fortunate to have it work out for us. Looking at our new music, it sounds nothing like that first album. Those things have really served us well.
How do you feel looking ahead to these West Coast shows? We’re excited to come back to California. It’s cool for us to be playing these marquee venues in cities that we grew up in. The first show we ever played in Santa Barbara was an Isla Vista frat party, so to go from that point to where we are in the present is something we don’t take for granted. We’re really excited to play this show.
4•1•1 | Young the Giant plays with openers Fitz and the Tantrums Thursday, August 8, at 6 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.) See sbbowl.com.