Concert preview: Young The Giant finding their way in ‘Home of the Strange’

Concert preview • Alt-rock band will bring issues of immigration, marginalization to sold-out gig.

| Courtesy of Pieter M. van Hattem S & S will present indie-pop band, Young the Giant on its Home Of The Strange Tour, Feb. 4, 2017, at The Complex in Salt Lake City. Visit thecomplexslc.com for information and smithstix.com for tickets.

Images of protesters flooding airports to voice their opposition to a presidential executive order resonated with the members of the alt-rock band Young The Giant.

Their third studio album, "Home of the Strange," released this past August, is something of a modern American immigrant story, a collection of tales for those who might feel marginalized by or hopeless about the country's current state of affairs.

Inspiration for such topics was not gleaned just through reading the headlines or watching the evening news, though.

Singer Sameer Gadhia is Indian-American, guitarist Jacob Tilley is British, guitarist/vocalist Eric Cannata is Italian-American, bassist Payam Doostza-deh is Persian-American, and drummer/vocalist Francois Comtois is French-Canadian.

The album's subject matter isn't merely theoretical to them — they've lived it.

"These are all themes that we had dealt with ourselves in some capacity our entire lives. And I think there was definitely kind of sort of a narrative that was building in the media that was maybe a little more present in our minds as we were writing. But we're either sons of first-generation Americans or, actually, I myself am not even an American citizen, and there's another non-citizen in the band, so we are all, in some capacity, immigrants," Comtois said Tuesday in a phone interview from Portland, Ore. "And just through touring and getting the opportunity to meet people, [hearing] a lot of those stories of people coming here — it's kind of a tried-and-true trope, but people seeking to better themselves and to give something back to the country is just kind of this theme we encountered time and time again."

Young The Giant will play a sold-out show at The Complex in Salt Lake City this Saturday.

A narrative of struggling to find how best to fit in further appealed to the band members given the minor upheavals the group decided to inflict upon itself.

There was a decision to shift toward a more live and energetic sound for the album, and Gadhia, who had been the primary songwriter before, agreed to make the process a more collaborative one, with Cannata and Comtois specifically taking on larger roles.

"I guess it was kind of an evolution. As we get more comfortable working together, we see what works and what doesn't, and we try to push certain boundaries," Comtois said. "… There was a little more focus on the lyrical content, I think, this time around. Eric and I were involved in a lot of the actual lyricism and melody-writing, helping Sameer out with a lot of that stuff, which, I think, is a really powerful tool to have, if you have three guys who are all able to write songs … sort of using each other's ideas to push the idea further along."

The decision to write together as a band, Comtois said, ultimately paid off.

"Once we did that, it really became this source of inspiration that, I think, everyone found really refreshing," he added. "It's easier not to get bogged down when you have two other guys who are kind of helping the conversation along."

The period of adjustment for the band continued over the first leg of the tour to support the new album, which took place over this past all and into the winter.

Mastering his parts on the single "Amerika" proved particularly challenging for Comtois, though he was able to eventually turn a source of frustration into a source of pride.

"The demo was done on a drum machine, so it has a very robotic feel to it on the drums. And even though the recording was done in the studio, I had a lot of time to get the take right. And when we started to bring that to live shows, I was struggling a little bit with playing that part, and then also I'd sing the verse," he said. "… But now we've played it 50 times and I know when I'm really starting to feel like the pocket is there and feel really comfortable and loose in that part. It's absolutely one of the highlights of the show for me."

The second leg of the tour began Wednesday, and the drummer said those who catch a concert this time around are in for a better show.

"Now that we actually have some experience playing the new stuff … they just feel more comfortable, which allows you to kind of push it a little bit more as a musician, when you're focusing less on the parts and focusing more on the performance," Comtois said. "… We'll see, but I get the feeling that it's gonna be a little bit easier than the last tour."

And if that enables the band and the crowd to lose themselves and forget all the noise and problems of the outside world for few hours, so much the better.

"We're gonna show up with all the energy that we can muster, and we want to put all of that into the show, and hopefully we get it back from the audience," Comtois said. "… Ideally, by the end of the show, everyone's whipped up into a frenzy and there's this nice afterglow when we walk off stage and when people walk out onto the street. We hope they feel the same."


Twitter: @esotericwalden

Young The Giant

With Lewis Del Mar

When • Saturday night, doors at 6:30

Where • The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets • Sold out

| Courtesy photo Alt-rock band Young The Giant is playing a sold-out show Saturday at The Complex in Salt Lake City in support of their third studio album, 2016's "Home of the Strange."

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