Young The Giant were well aware of the so-called "sophomore slump" throughout the recording process of their new album Mind Over Matter ... almost to the point of paralysis.
"On this record, we had a little bit of writers' block, because obviously there's the anticipation of a sophomore record, the expectations, all of that," guitarist Jacob Tilley said. "All of us wanted to stand behind a record; the last record we all wrote when were 19 or so, and we were kind of being guided through the whole process. This time around, we wanted to tour on something for two or three years on something we all really love."
In a way, you can't blame them for struggling with success. After all, their self-titled debut turned the unassuming California quintet into a genuine buzz band, spawning a pair of rock-radio hits with "Cough Syrup" and "My Body" and earning them a slot at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Which meant that, when it came time to begin work on Mind Over Matter, they were forced to deal with something entirely new: expectations.
"I think the initial hurdle was, there were so many different things I wanted to talk about, and on the first record, the way I went about the process was what rolled off the tongue the best, in a spontaneous way. I didn't think about it," frontman Sameer Gadhia added. "For this record there was this level of audience that I wanted to connect with, and I still wanted to stay away from the typical 'Being on the road' second record, but it's evident that's a part of it, because it's been a part of our lives for a big portion of our young adulthood."
Of course, all it took was one song to break their creative block ... the album's title track, which YTG credit with not only salvaging their new album, but shaping the entirety of its sonically adventurous, amorphous scope.
" 'Mind Over Matter' got us over all that, and everything came together after that," Gadhia explained. "For us, it's about trying to connect with who we are, completely, external and separate from the world that we find ourselves in, and about trying to connect with ourselves as individuals and sonically, our music-scape. We definitely explored a lot on this album, particularly the idea of choice; one can either do what they want to do, or completely destroy themselves, based on their own choice."
And after conquering the challenges of making their sophomore album, Young The Giant are now preparing to take the record on the road. Their tour begins February 4 in California, and let's just say they're raring to go.
"The first half of the record is very high intensity, even more intense that even we initially anticipated, and the second, there's a little more time to breathe," Gadhia said. "Being on the road so much most definitely influenced the way we wanted to order the record; just being able to play and have a steady ebb and flow. We wanted to have an 'A' side and a 'B' side, and we also imagined what this record would be like if we just played an hour set, from the first song to the last. So, yeah, we can't wait to do that."