Live2Play Network’s “GuitarGuy” Tim Hemingway sat down with Payam Doostzadeh, bassist for Young the Giant, to discuss their new album, touring, and meeting the greatest rock star on the planet.
L2P – Hey Payam, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. I know you’ve been quite busy lately with the band. What are you up to right now?
Payam – We’ve been in Texas for the last four days. We had a day off in Amarillo, then three days of consecutive shows in Dallas, Austin and Houston tonight.
L2P – Wow, that is a busy schedule; I’ll try not to keep you too long. Your sophomore album Mind Over Matter just came out. Many people say that a second album makes or breaks a band because you have a lifetime to write your debut and only a few months to write the follow up. Did you find this to be true or did you feel that type of pressure in approaching your second album?
Payam – Our second record, Mind Over Matter, is actually heavily influenced by the theme of internal pressure and struggles. Of course we were aware that our fans, label et cetera had certain expectations for us, but more than anything we felt like we had something to prove between the five of us as song writers. We wrote the majority of the album at our fourth band house in Rancho Palos Verdes CA. It’s far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. There was an extended period of writers block mid-way through our writing process and the title track, “Mind Over Matter”, was the song that we wrote together that brought us out of that lull.
L2P – You mentioned writing songs together, is that primarily how you wrote songs for Mind Over Matter? And, is that how you wrote your debut album Young the Giant as well?
Payam – We write mostly as a group in a jam setting. Some of the songs on the record, such as “Camera”, were already fully thought out and then expanded upon by the rest of the band.
I’d say the biggest difference in the writing process this time around was our improved knowledge and ability to record ourselves in the demo process. By experimenting with tones and post production techniques we were able to hone in on the vision of the record before we brought it to JMJ.
L2P – Very cool. I’m really enjoying Mind Over Matter, it definitely has the Young the Giant sounds, but is a more “rocking” album than your debut. At your shows, how are fans reacting to the new material?
Payam – I’d say the fans are reacting pretty well to the new songs. Unfortunately, they haven’t had much time with the new record yet considering the tour started a week after the release. I think once we come back and tour the same markets in a year or so they’ll be much more emotionally invested and comfortable with the material.
L2P – With the new songs, is there a different message or feeling you want to convey to the audience than on your last album?
Payam – I think the message for this album is more centered towards overcoming internal struggles in the mind with positive outlets.
L2P – You’re out touring now, are there any specific upcoming shows that you are really looking forward to?
Payam – We have two sold out nights coming up at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, which is one of the largest venues we’ve ever headlined, so I’m definitely really excited about that one. We’re also headlining Stubbs BBQ Outdoor stage Friday night of the South by Southwest Festival, which I already know will be a blast.
L2P – Are gigs this time around different than touring for your first album?
Payam – The gigs this time around are definitely more taxing for us considering we are playing longer, around 1.5 hours, and using a lot of synthesizers and other elements that we used to not utilize. We’re all about pushing our limits and trying to not idle in our comfort zone.
L2P – Sounds like a great show. I’m hoping to make it when you play Salt Lake City in April. At this point you’ve released two successful albums and toured all over the place. I’m sure that has accomplished many of your goals as a musician. What’s next? Is there a dream gig, like a venue you want to play, or a band you want to play with?
Payam – I have to say my dream gig would be to open for Radiohead. I think its safe to say that they are the favorite band amongst us all.
L2P – That would be an amazing show, I’d be there. So what is the coolest touring moment or gig you’ve had?
Payam – We met Paul McCartney outside of a rehearsal studio in Burbank the year he played Coachella. He was eating an egg sandwich with his right hand and I shook his left.
L2P – Paul McCartney, that is awesome. Nothing against you guys, but I pretty much view Paul as being the greatest rock star on the planet.
Payam – (laughs) I thought that was pretty cool. I wish we had taken a picture with him, oh well.
L2P – Maybe next time. Just in closing, what advice would you give to young musicians who are dreaming of “making it”?
Payam – It’s not easy making it in the music business, it takes a lot of hard work, determination, talent and lots of luck. There are ton of bands out there that deserve to be heard that aren’t. We played countless shows to empty rooms before we had any taste of success. And once you do get signed the journey really just begins. You’d be surprised with how much you learn about running a business just from being in a band.