Three years ago, Sameer Gadhia ‘11 was a typical parent’s dream — a smart kid studying Human Biology at Stanford, getting involved in his spare time by singing in Talisman and enjoying Greek life in Sigma Nu. And then, like all nerdy Stanford students with vague aspirations of medical school, Gadhia did what any of them would do: drop out and become a rock star.
The Irvine, Calif., native is the frontman of Orange County band Young the Giant who have been gaining more and more traction with the modern alt-rock sheen of their self-titled debut. 2011 was a stellar breakout year for them with performances on “The Tonight Show” and the MTV Video Music Awards, which Gadhia sees as only the beginning.
“You know, I’m very, very happy and very lucky that we’ve been put in this situation,” he said. “But we hope that this isn’t the climax or the peak for us.”
In fact, when it comes to singling out a particular “we’ve made it” moment, Gadhia doesn’t even consider his band’s high profile gigs.
“It’s just [to] be able to travel around the world and play shows to people that we’ve never seen or met, who don’t even speak our language,” Gadhia said. “We can’t speak theirs, but we can connect through the songs.”
However, he doesn’t discount their August showing at the VMAs. The band was joined by fans onstage as they closed out the ceremony with their galloping anthem “My Body.” The post-VMA boost was immediately evident when the group saw themselves trending on Twitter.
Now, the band formerly known as the Jakes is hoping to begin another banner year by launching their second headlining tour next week at the Fillmore in San Francisco. This is their first foray into the big leagues, stepping up from small-capacity venues to a full production. Twenty-nine out of their scheduled 45 shows are already sold-out.
It’s a lot to take in for a group of guys who have been playing together since adolescence. Though big mainstream fame and success seem imminent for them, in many ways, the members of Young the Giant are your typical young 20-somethings experiencing the real world for the first time and trying to carve out a career. They all live together in a big house in Los Angeles and are still subject to everyday annoyances like rent — though they’ll return to the vagabond lifestyle as soon as they hit the road. Despite spending inordinate amounts of time together as housemates and bandmates, the fivesome never get sick of one another.
“It’s strange because we hang out 24/7,” Gadhia admitted. “We’re very close — we’ll do four months on the road and then we’ll come back home for a little bit, and you know, maybe we’ll spend a day or two with families, but in two days, we’ll just start calling each other again to hang out [laughs], and so it’s never really done for us.”
Gadhia’s excited for the tour launch in San Francisco since, outside of minor appearances in events like Not So Silent Night, the band hasn’t played a real Bay Area show in a while. He’ll also be close to the Farm, where he would’ve been toting a degree from by now if he hadn’t left. However, Gadhia has no regrets about putting his studies on hold.
“I think when I was at Stanford, I was a little confused like a lot of Stanford students are as to what I wanted to major in,” he said. “I was doing HumBio, but I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It’s really been helping me out, just being able to experience real life and seeing what it’s like now that everything is really going okay.”
Gadhia insists he’ll finish his education someday, a notion that can grant his beleaguered parents some rest. Though Mr. and Mrs. Gadhia have come to accept their son’s lifestyle, that’s not to say they wouldn’t get behind him tossing away the mic for a degree.
“If I went to med school, they’d be ecstatic,” Gadhia laughed. “I think at this point, their expectations have been dumbed down a lot. I think, when I was at Stanford, it was more like ‘yeah you should go to med school’ like they wanted to push me, but now it’s like ‘just fucking graduate, just fucking graduate, please.’”
But for now, Gadhia’s heart is in the studio and on the stage — doing the Wacky Walk in Stanford Stadium will have to wait.