Bandleader Sameer Gadhia says when his old band The Jakes decided to rechristen itself, the members chose an unconventional moniker with Young the Giant. They tried to sum up their U2-anthemic sound in a single word, until they realized they had been overthinking it. So they repositioned “the” in the middle, then preceded it with “young” because they were young at the time, says the Indian-descended, Bollywood-inspired singer. “It just underscores how naive we were about the whole process.” Backing their eponymous Roadrunner debut, with chiming alt-chart hits like “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” the band opens Live 105’s Not So Silent Night in Oakland on Friday.
How culturally different was your upbringing? Well, my parents met in India and started dating in high school, so it wasn’t an arranged marriage. And that gave me a different perspective on India, a more liberal idea of what it can be. They moved to Michigan for grad school, and I was born there, and then we moved to California. But my parents have a lot of traditional values, and I’ve been to India several times and experienced it first-hand, and they made me live in the seedier parts just to see what it’s like. So from a very young age, I was parsing the differences between a Western and an Eastern upbringing.
Indian musical scales are completely different from Western, right? Most definitely. But because I never classically learned it, I have this strange objective fascination with the scales and how it works. So even though I never was a traditional Indian singer, like my grandmother, my mom and my sister, I tried to figure out how I could bring that to my Western singing voice. That’s why I like crooners like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack era, mixed with South American bossa nova sounds — they have a lot to do with old Bollywood songs that my parents used to sing when I was younger.
Is it true you guys all live together? Yeah. We just got our third house, too. We’ve moved into the hills of East L.A., into this crazy, weird dilapidated ’70s mansion that we found for super-cheap. And it’s apparently haunted. We’ve dealt with a couple of weird spirits every now and then. But there’s a huge jam space on the bottom floor, where we’ve written tons of new ideas for our second album already. So this is our third time living together — the last place we lived was literally two bedrooms and a living room, with a little loft area. It was very close quarters.
IF YOU GO
Live 105’s Not So Silent Night
with Young The Giant, Jane’s Addiction, Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine, Bush
Where: Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $49.75 to $75
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com