09/29/2011 10:56 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Anatomy of an Interview: Young the Giant at Austin City Limits

Sameer Gadhia is famous. And how do I know? Because he is a pro at handling the media. During our interview he had a camera swooping in and around his face, random fans stopping by to say hello and as soon as we finished he immediately started another interview. Not only did Sameer never trip over his words he was actually quite charming.

Young the Giant released their eponymous debut full-length album earlier this year and experienced moderate success playing SXSW and Lollapalooza. But nothing compares to the band's performance at the 2011 MTV video music awards, where Sameer went crowd surfing and then lay flat on the stage belting lyrics to their hit single. The following week sales for the song "My Body" increased by 220 percent on iTunes.

Is the Sameer we see on television the same guy when he hangs out with his buddies on an idle Wednesday? We go behind the interview to find out what he thinks about all the media attention.


photo credit: Ranjana Thomas

Mark Collins: Do you read the things written about you?

Sameer Gadhia: I try not to. But I do. I have a weekly Google alert set up. Which is bad. I've been trying to not read them. I've Googled my name every now and then. There is a lot of good stuff, a lot of bad stuff. I try not to read it.

MC: What is the interview process like?

SG: Sometimes I'll go into an interview not knowing what it's about or who it's for. Sometimes I'm a little bit more prepared. I've been in certain interviews where they ask me questions that I know nothing about. Like obscure albums and they want to know my favorite song and I don't even know what to say.

MC: Have you ever been misrepresented?

SG: No. I think some people have a different idea of what we are. We're normal guys. We're down to earth. We like doing other things besides music although for the past three years music has been our life. We're not trying to be too pretentious. Some people take that as a red flag. They say, 'these guys are boring' or 'they don't have anything flamboyant or left field-ish to say,' but if they don't like that then they don't like that. That's who we are. Just even tempered people. We're not too crazy.

MC: Who does your social media stuff, are you hands on?

SG: Yeah. The good thing is we grew up with the internet music scene. So we're well versed in how to interact with the online fan base. Obviously MySpace several years back was the main mode of transportation. I found out about so many great bands through the Myspace band of the week feature, it was my goal to be on there. But it's changed a lot. We have a couple social media people helping us out, but for the most part we always oversee our Twitter. We look at a lot of our Facebook stuff. We try and keep in touch with as many people as possible.

MC: What questions do you get asked a lot?

SG: Why did you change your band name? What does it mean? Or do you think your cultural differences have made a big impact on your music. Those are the top three. It's not like they're invalid questions. There are a lot of people who interview us that don't know who we are so the first thing they see is 'these guys look different.'

MC: Have you ever had a bad interview?

SG: Well... I'll put it out there. I'm not well versed in Nirvana music. I don't know much about Nirvana in general. So when somebody asks me about Nevermind and what that means to me and which song is my favorite that was a very awkward moment. I was on MTV when they asked me at Lollapalooza and I just said 'you should ask our guitarist because he was in a Nirvana cover band.' But I try and stay relevant. Most interviews don't intimidate me.

We had a seemingly intimidating interview turn into a great one. We were doing an interview with Rock the Vote and they asked us a lot of questions about who should be the next president and even though I'm not super political I came from a family background that is into governmental change and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand what is going on so it worked out.

HP: What are autograph sessions like?

SG: It's really weird. Depending on the place we will have a couple hundred people and we have to make sure we take pictures with all the fans. Sometimes no one is there. It's a crapshoot. We try and be as personable with fans as possible because up until the last two months it's been very bearable and easy to get to know fans on first name basis, especially the fans who come to multiple shows. Now its getting a little bit harder with new people and it's a little overwhelming so we're trying to strike the balance of being a very public band that establishes a relationship with the audience.