Q&A: Young the Giant’s Eric Cannata

Catch Young the Giant live in concert at SOMA San Diego on Feb. 9
Catch Young the Giant live in concert at SOMA San Diego on Feb. 9
Catch Young the Giant live in concert at SOMA San Diego on Feb. 9
See Young the Giant live in concert at SOMA San Diego on Feb. 9. Image courtesy of Daily Pilot.

Young the Giant, the Irvine-based quintet whose 2010 debut album produced catchy indie rock tunes like “Cough Syrup” and “My Body,” recently released their second album “Mind Over Matter.” Notable for its heavier sound, the guitar-based single “It’s About Time” has earned the band praise for their decision to opt for a harder sound while maintaining the catchy melodies that defines their sunny SoCal sound. The UCSD Guardian spoke to guitarist Eric Cannata about their latest release, the struggle to overcome writer’s block and his favorite current bands.

Guardian: Could you explain the album title, “Mind Over Matter”?
Eric Cannata: After coming home from a long tour, we felt pressured to reconnect with the fans who had supported us for the past couple of years. We realized they have certain expectations. The idea of “Mind Over Matter” is that there are certain obstacles that you need to battle throughout your life, and some of the songs on the album are about moments of failure — a feeling of paralysis — while some of the songs are about getting over those difficulties. Battling writer’s block and writing the title track got us out of our comfort zone.

G: Why was “It’s About Time” chosen as the lead single? Is it representative of the rest of the album as a whole?
EC: I think each song on “Mind Over Matter” has its own vibe, so it’s hard to pinpoint a sound that represents the entire album. The idea was that, when people listened to “It’s About Time” before we released it, and when we were listening it, we felt it showcased our growth as a band — we wanted to come out with something unexpected. We wanted to stay true to our roots as a rock band but go in a different direction other than the traditional verse-chorus structure. To me, the chorus on “It’s About Time” breaks down to something sonically unexpected.

G: Was there a different approach to making the second album as to avoid the so-called “sophomore slump” — the infamously, difficult second album?
EC: We were definitely more prepared this time around, and we have a lot more experience from playing live and touring. I think we got better at songwriting together. We have a very democratic system. It takes some time, but everyone has their say. While trying to figure out our vision for the album sonically, we found a producer [Justin Meldal-Johnsen] who we thought could take that vision and make it grander. Also, like I said before, we wanted to get out of our comfort zone by trying to write songs in different ways using different instruments; for example, starting a song with a synthesizer rather guitars, which we’ve done in the past.

G: What have you been listening to lately?
EC: I think Arcade Fire is a great band. Here We Go Magic is another one. And Volcano Choir — I have to mention that — I’ve listened to their new album probably every day for the past couple of months. It’s Justin Vernon’s [of Bon Iver] most recent endeavor.

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