Taking giant steps to fame

Rock band with Irvine roots, Young the Giant, has made several TV appearances and will tour and play to sold-out crowds.

February 02, 2012|By Joanna Clay
  • Francois Comtois, Sameer Gadhia, Jacob Tilley, Payam Doostzadeh and Eric Cannata of Young the Giant.
Francois Comtois, Sameer Gadhia, Jacob Tilley, Payam…

If you've turned on a television in the last year, you've probably glimpsed Young the Giant.

The Irvine natives have played on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"and "Later with Jools Holland" in the U.K.

Rock music enthusiasts might also recognize the band from a slightly more prominent gig this past summer at the MTV Video Music Awards, when Jared Leto and Zoe Saldana introduced them to the stage.

For many who grew up in the 1980s, '90s and '00s, the VMAs are a summer standard. Teens huddle around the TV, popcorn in hand, and judge the biggest music names in the industry.

François Comtois, drummer and vocalist, said it made the experience all the more surreal.

"I remember feeling really, really nervous for the dress rehearsal," he said. "We had a bunch of our friends and family come on stage with us. That put us at ease. When it actually happened and we were surrounded by Kanye andJay-Z— it was a joyful time for us."


The band rewarded lucky fans by dancing onstage with them at the awards show, which revealed their ability to make an internationally-viewed TV performance look like an intimate show at a friend's home.

The band — composed of Sameer Gadhia, 22, Jacob Tilley, 22, Eric Cannata, 21, Payam Doostzadeh, 22, and Comtois, 23 — all attended high school in Irvine. They are about to begin a six-month tour on Feb. 8, which will stretch from San Francisco to Toronto.

They'll play Soma in San Diego on Feb. 10 followed by The Wiltern in Los Angeles on Feb. 11 and 12. All three shows are sold out.

Comtois, who attended UC Irvine, said the band formerly known as "The Jakes" decided to give music a go in 2009. During that year the band had performed at South by Southwest, had songs play on KROQ and shows such as "The Real World: Brooklyn," and A&E's"The Beast" used their music.

The band members dropped out of their respective colleges — Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, Cal State Long Beach and UCI — all aiming to return.

Shortly thereafter, they went on tour with Minus the Bear and Steel Train.

"I was a huge fan of Minus the Bear in high school so when we got word of that I was geeking out a bit," Comtois said.

They've played with the Futureheads, Neon Trees and Everest.

Morrissey, The Smiths frontman, called Young the Giant one of his favorite bands.

Comtois says although the band enjoys the appreciation, its members try not to take it all too seriously.

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