Sitting in their trailer a couple of hours before they’re set to hit the main stage at Ohana Fest in Dana Point, Young the Giant’s Sameer Gadhia and Francois Comtois rest comfortably in their trailer. Having arrived earlier than their bandmates, the singer, who is sporting a tucked-in Hawaiian button-down shirt and dress pants, and drummer, who leans back casually in his chair in a jeans and t-shirt ensemble, respectively take stock of how long and short a decade in the spotlight can be — even if that means describing the unglamorous nature of staying at your parents house the night before a local festival — a welcome change in this case.
“Always great to get a home cooked meal and to stay at home,” the two joke.
For the Irvine-natives, the past decade has seen them soar past their initial expectations as a band. At this point, their story is well-known to locals. First known as The Jakes, the quintet changed their name to Young the Giant in 2009 then became popular based on the strength of the catchy alt rock that defined “Cough Syrup” and “My Body,” the group rapidly ascended to festival and radio fixtures, and continue to barrel forward.
As they’ve plowed through multiple headlining tours, it would have been easy for the band to enjoy their success and release music at a leisurely clip. Instead, Young the Giant once again made a quick return to the studio. Even a decade in, the band continues to find ways to keep a fresh approach to their songwriting, which was how they approached their fourth album, Mirror Master, out on October 12.
Unlike 2016’s Home of the Strange where the band took a look at the world at large, on Mirror Master, the band used the chaotic elements that have encompassed culture and society to took a turn inward.
“It’s more introspective of how America and how the world got here,” Gadhia says. “The image that we saw of America was something entirely different. In a lot of ways, this record isn’t as political — it’s how modern technology and everything has led to this point of this internal dialogue that everyone has and that they’re a superstar of their own life, and how it’s played out in a much larger way.”
“You can take 10 different angles of 10 different photos and make it 10 different ways,” Comtois adds. “For us, it’s having these conversations going into writing and how do you react to something so shocking. Once you realize the things you didn’t see happening, it forces you — and us — to toward inwards and have a look at the relationships in our lives.”
Despite having written 50 songs — which include incomplete or half-finished tracks which were recorded across multiple locations — it was easy for the group to pare down what would make the cut. Honestly evaluating their lives (“Rock has suffered for a while since it hides behind tropes and cliches that have been said,” Gadhia says) has made it easier to have songs that they say are more relatable since it tackles issues and vulnerabilities that others may have.
Reflecting on their decade, which has seen them become veterans in a genre where careers don’t last like they used to is not something that Young the Giant takes lightly.
“To think that it’s been 10 years, not to get too sappy, but it’s not something we take granted,” Comtois says. “The luxury we have is that our songs run the gamut from heavier stuff to poppy stuff to singer-songwriter. But our expectations have grown too, which is cool too.”
“For us, it was just like try to write great songs,” Gadhia says. “We just want to show the many different sides of who we are. Simple enough.”