Young the Giant Grow Up on 'Mind Over Matter,' Out Today!
Two weeks before the release of their sophomore effort, Mind Over Matter (officially out today), the members of Young the Giant were in need of a vacation. For the past year, the Irvine natives have been carefully crafting the follow-up to their self-titled debut, which was a surprise hit, spawning two Gold singles in "My Body" and "Cough Syrup," both of which can still be heard regularly on rock radio more than three years after their release.
Two and a half years, four houses and six tours later, the band are overdue for some relaxation. The pressure Young the Giant put on themselves was greater than any pushing by their label, Fueled By Ramen, especially with the leeway granted them after having a hit record. They hunkered down in a house in Rancho Palos Verdes, 45 minutes away from any potential distraction, and worked with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Tegan and Sara, Paramore, M83), who has also played with Nine Inch Nails and Beck, to get the songs to a place where all five members would be not only satisfied, but also proud of the end result.
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"Working with [Meldal-Johnsen] was freeing; he taught us to soak in what we do without judgment, unapologetically," singer Sameer Gadhia says. "Our first record with Joe Chiccarelli was more of a 101 on being a recording artist. This time was taking some of what we learned and fondly throwing it out the window."
This doesn't mean there weren't some problems along the way. The group suffered a case of writer's block, something that can afflict and harm even the most seasoned outfit. They also developed an Axl Rose-like obsession, poring over the tiniest of details in every song. But after hundreds of hours of mixing, Young the Giant played the final mix to a select group of friends and contemporaries, who collectively gave the band a thumbs-up.
"What we did realize, however, is that this time, relinquishing the music to the public has been harder than the last go around," Gadhia says. "The music, for all of us, is emotional, open, and puts us at a strange level of vulnerability, more so than the last record. It was finally saying, 'Yes, Young the Giant can put out a song like that; we can be who we are.'"
For the first record, Gadhia's lyrics were composed by subconscious word association--he'd fit certain words together until they formed something like a completed jigsaw puzzle. But the themes he tackled for Mind Over Matter were much more complicated.
"Lyrically, the idea of self-doubt and how one can grow, learn, diminish, dilute from these abstract concepts we create for ourselves finally constructed the thesis of the record," he says. "The word paralysis is used several times throughout many different songs on the record and always has a different connotation. Sometimes, it is restive and meditative; sometimes, it is literally paralyzing. And other times it just is."
The beauty of living and recording in the same place is that when they had a tough day, they could stop, kick back and suck down a few beers. But when a great idea popped up, things could come together in as fast as 15 minutes, and those hours of struggling would be in Young the Giant's rearview mirror.