FEATURE Young The Giant
Image Credit: Bret Grafton

Young The Giant Is Outgrowing Its Space

by Gil Melott
He has just come back to the U.S. from Australia and New Zealand. Straight off the plane to the hotel bed for a quick nap, then a quick sound check. Wipes the sleep out of his eyes in front of the few hundred people. Then those hundreds quickly swelled to thousands. Deep breathing. This is just another day in the life and the quickly growing pace as part of the group Young The Giant. They just don’t know it yet.

“I felt very blessed to be on that stage… it was surreal as you might expect. We had a few technical difficulties but we powered through it.” says Jacob Tilley guitarist.

We spent some time with Jacob at Lollapalooza as he downloaded on life with YTG along with other things that popped into his head.

“I can’t wait to do it again. We don’t get to perform in stadium settings and we just want to keep on making better sound. Like as we’re talking right now with Phantogram in the background, I can already hear a few things we can improve on.” To say Jacob is modest would be an understatement. Young The Giant hit it hard and (sound guy or not) the guys delivered with songs like “My Body”, “Apartment” with drums and bass following these crazy and catchy rhythms, and the mad sweet vocals of Sameer Ghadia singing “I Got” to the hungry crowd.

The big change for the band really started back in 2009. YTG won the Sonicbirds contest allowing them to be the band to open and play with the Kings of Leon. While unorthodox, it propelled them into the label, big business side of music. It also opened the festival circuit doors with a gig at SXSW.

The guys are young. “I’m 21. Francois is 23; he’s the Daddy of the group. And I think the constant touring and playing live has helped us mature, even at our ages, as a band and set us up to be better. We are about to go on tour with Incubus – playing HUGE sheds.” Kind of wide-eyed and earnest, he can’t contain his enthusiasm. But Tilley seems to fit the mold of all the guys in the band. Stay focused and keep making kick ass music, and just keep getting better. “Every time you play a dive bar and learn how to play a room that’s small, just fucking shitty in so many ways, you get to appreciate the power of a great system and venue, and that little extra time to write. And we’ve gotten so much better at it (writing).”

photo by Bret Grafton

“We’ve done so much driving together and we’ve listened to hours and hours of music. We always have music playing in the background.”

When I asked him what some of his new favorite bands were he let out a chuckle, “Well I’m kind of in a pickle right now, because my iPhone is broken and I haven’t had a chance to listen to all my bands. I like Wave. But since the only thing I can play on my iPhone is Mason Jennings, right now Mason Jennings is my favorite.”  Big smile. Hey Apple, help a brother out?

“Here at Lollapalooza I really want to see My Morning Jacket. I have looked up to them for so long. Atmosphere and Local Natives, who have become somewhat friends of ours.”

In early June Morrissey laid out some heavy praise for the band. “If there is any justice in the world (and we all know there isn't) Young The Giant will own most of it by August. It's so easy to fire out remnants of snobbery where new music is concerned (in fact, I find it VERY easy), but once every three thousand years, a band comes along who restore that precious component of faith.” I wanted to know what it was like to hear that.

“It’s an honor really, my Dad freaked out. I would never even have comprehended something like that happening in my life. For us, having a guy who is so noteworthy in so many ways and someone who so many musicians hold up as a cornerstone in musical philosophy is wild. It makes some of the harsh comments of the past less, well harsh.” Tilley shuffles his feet in the dirt and looks down, “I really hope we will be able to meet him some day and collaborate.” I bet they have a strong chance of that happening.

It might sound a bit cliché, but this has been a giant year of firsts, SXSW, Lollapalooza, MTV’s VMA appearance on August 28, 2011. Any other firsts?

“Well we’d never played a fest. We played Sasquatch; I’ve been able to see Wilco, RATATAT. We’ve just traveled to Indonesia and Australia, played our first sold out shows. I was born in Europe and have experienced things there I never was able to before and share it with friends.”

“Everyone keeps telling us to keep going for it.” With a smirk, that has a sense of both cockiness and trepidation, “People told us it was foolish and sophomoric to take time away from school to try and live out this dream - but here we are. And now it’s about taking it to the next level.”

Young The Giant took a huge leap forward on the big stage at Lollapalooza and will get some great face time when they play on the VMA’s. Next level, first step complete. Maybe Jacob can fix his iPhone.

Right before we are about to wrap up, “And I have to tell you, my guitar teacher is so stoked for me.” Twenty-one, excited, and taking it all in.

  • Gil Melott is Publisher of JACKarcher and head of JACKarcher | JA+. Gil digs all things that haven't happened yet but probably should in music, fashion, art, film, design - you get the picture. Likes the influencers of all things NEXT and the strategies to get them there. Can appreciate great fried chicken, an amazing Malbec, a 1971 Ford Bronco, finding hot bands, and riding a bike any time. He spends a lot of time with his American Bulldog Chap who is the biggest influencer of what happens NEXT.