MVRemix.com caught up with Eric Cannata of Young the Giant when they passed through Montreal to play Osheaga Music & Arts Festival. Playing on tour with Incubus, lucky shirts and plans for the next album are all on the table in this waterfront and Montreal skyline style Q&A.
How are you enjoying the festival so far?
Eric: I’ve had a blast so far. I didn’t get much time to see the whole entire grounds, but our crowd was incredible and the catering is probably the best catering we’ve had at a festival. It’s been really nice.
Did you get to see any fellow performers?
Eric: Not really, not today. Just a second of Brand New, but nah we just kinda got here. We drove for a while this morning, we were in New York last night and we drove the rest of the way this morning. So when I got here I was kinda sleepy, just hung out. Yeah it’s boring but yeah.
Is there one band that you’re kind of hanging around with the whole tour or are you doing your own thing?
Eric: This run we are actually only doing two shows. We’ve had a lot of time off recently to write our new record and the two runs that we played both shows with a band called Portugal. The Man. And we got to hang out with those guys so we’ve been hanging out with them, but we haven’t really been on an extended tour.
What do you think makes Osheaga unique compared to other festivals?
Eric: Just how everything is run. Sometimes you get festivals where it’s a little bit hectic and just the whole plan of where everything is and stuff. I keep hearing everybody telling me how awesome it is here. Like I said I haven’t got much of a chance to walk around the whole grounds but everyone is saying it’s a really well planned out festival and again the catering is unbelievable.
How does a song make it on a set list for these types of festivals and what gets cut?
Eric: Today we cut… we usually play three or four new songs that aren’t on the first record and today we only played one of those songs. We try to stay away from the slower songs and stick to a more up tempo set for these kind of shows.
Talking about your self-titled album, was there one inspiration that came to the table when you were producing it?
Eric: There were a couple. I think we always go back to when we were living close to the beach in Orange County. We were kind of inspired by living by the beach and kind of eternal summer, and just hanging out. We all took time off from school so it was kind of just a big party and celebration. Then we moved to L.A. and then it got more serious. When we were finishing up the record we lived in Hollywood right on Sunset Boulevard and lived a bike ride away from our studio, so a little bit inspired by the city and the city life.
If you had to sell it on one track which one would it be, and could you tell me a little about it?
Eric: I think our song “Strings” is kind of a good mix…It’s kind of a more summery vibe on it, but yeah I think “Strings” can give you a good view of the album.
What has been your greatest challenge as a band so far?
Eric: I think being away from home, being away from our girlfriends and families, and friends definitely takes a toll, but we’ve been very fortunate to get to where we are so quickly. We’re about to take a lot of time off to do the second record at home. That’s probably the hardest thing for us, just being away so much and figuring out a way to be at home as much as possible but also, you know, tour as much as possible and play shows.
Do you ever get to bring your friends and family on tour?
Eric: Yeah, I had a couple of instances. My girlfriend comes out every once in a while to a show. I had a friend out for Bonnaroo and that was a lot of fun. You know a friend from growing up, he got to come out and see kind of how it is at festivals, being in a band at a festival. He had a blast and we got to see Radiohead together.
Is there one thing that you take from home that you bring on tour, one special item?
Eric: I have a bird. Its like a hand carved bird that I put on my amp. I always have a lot of lucky things, you know. I guess I bring all of my shirts that are lucky to me. I guess I’m that kind of person, where I have a bunch of little things that I find give me good luck. This time out I brought my dad’s old hat from when he played baseball, I’ve been wearing that…reminds me of my dad.
Do you have any crazy stories on tour, past and present?
Eric: Yeah we do… I always forget when that question is asked. We’ve done a lot of van tours, we we’re lucky enough to get on a bus last year. But one time when we were in van we just broke down on the side of the road, on the side of the freeway in the Mohave Desert and it was burning hot and there were those fire, red ants everywhere like crawling up our legs and stuff. We had, you know, no reception- couldn’t call anybody so I was waving people down on the freeway and making little chants. What happened was our trailer, the tire popped with how hot it was, luckily this guy in a pick-up truck took an exit when he saw us and pulled back around and pulled over. He happened to be a trailer repairman and he had all his tools and we gave him a shirt and a CD for his son. Yeah he just fixed the trailer for us for free and it was really, really cool. It was a little bit of luck and dancing out there, yelling shit, saw the trailer broken down and felt like being nice.
Now, what is one question you wish you had been asked in an interview but never have yet?
Eric: I don’t know. I feel like we do all these interviews and there’s a lot of general questions but I guess something more specific to what each member does in the band. Maybe like what gear we have and use, but I guess that would have to do with a more guitar based magazine, considering I play guitar. I’m really into gear, I like to talk about it.
Just wrapping it up, what is one thing die-hard fans don’t know about you?
Eric: Me personally? I’m a black belt in Taekwondo, but I got it when I was like thirteen so…
You’re a little rusty?
Eric: Can’t really pull the same moves. But about the band…ah… I don’t know. We’re all very close, too close sometimes. We lived together for about four years, on and off the road. We’re pretty much like brothers at this point.
You spoke a lot about your upcoming album, can you tell me about the plans surrounding that, have you recorded a lot?
Eric: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun actually. We first had about three months off. We lived in East L.A. and we set up a home recording studio and we were recording demos there. We got about maybe three to four songs done there and then we started playing them out on the road. Then when we came back for about three weeks we actually got to live at my friend Mikey’s place and Mikey plays guitar for the band Incubus. We got to go on tour with them about a year ago. So he was really kind and let us stay at his house for three weeks and record demos in his home studio, which was a blast. Now were probably at about nine or ten songs done. We’re planning on recording either in November, December or January, going in the studio so we’ll have a couple more months to work at everything and write new tunes. So hopefully we’ll have a good amount of songs and then we’ll pick the best ones for the record.