In 2009, Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest debuted as a music festival dedicated primarily to spotlighting Texas-based artists. Since its premiere, the popularity of the annual event soared and the number of attendees has grown ten-fold from approximately 10,000 to 100,000 visitors. The concert organizers steadily expanded the featured artists to include non-local musical acts in sync with the growth of attendees. This year’s festival, held on June 2 and 3, included internationally recognized groups such as Snoop Dogg, The Flaming Lips, Willie Nelson and The Avett Brothers, as well as, up-and-coming bands like Fitz and the Tantrums, Two Door Cinema Club, Diplo and Young the Giant. As Wayne Coyne, the lead singer of The Flaming Lips, told this year’s crowd, “Give it three more years and this [event] will be HUGE!”

Young the Giant, a rising California-based band which has been recognized by, among others,  Spin, USA Today and Nylon for a fresh alternative-rock music sound, played at 2012 Free Press Summer Fest. Untapped Cities sat down with guitarist Eric Cannata to discuss Young the Giant’s success and their upcoming sold-out show at New York City’s Central Park SummerStage

Untapped Cities: Young the Giant’s upcoming Central Park SummerStage show is sold out. Are you excited to be heading to a sold out show in New York?
Eric Cannata: We are definitely excited for SummerStage. We have a lot of friends and family in New York City. It was only a year or so ago that we were playing upstairs at Piano’s and many of the smaller venues. Overtime, we worked our way up. We played Terminal 5 not too long ago which is an even bigger venue and notable setting.

Untapped Cities: What are you looking forward to exploring in New York?
Eric: When I go to New York City, I see my family. My mom’s brother and his family live in the city. We like to hang out on the Lower East Side in different places. We like going to Pianos, Fat Baby and Home Sweet Home. We just found many of these cool spots through family and friends.

Untapped Cities: The band just began a summer tour. Which events are you looking forward to on the road?
Eric: We are only doing about ten days in June and twenty days in July. It wraps up the shows on this touring cycle. I am looking forward to Bonnaroo, New York City and in July we are playing a couple of festivals in Canada including Osheaga.

Untapped Cities: What are your musical influences?
Eric: We listen to kind of everything. But, some of the bands we’ve been influenced by recently”¦for me is hip-hop including the new Roots album. Also, we are influenced by the electronic scene. We don’t want to make a second record that isn’t anything like the first one. It will be an evolution. We are definitely experimenting with different instruments. We have a keyboard on stage with us now. We try to take all the different influences and throw them into to whatever we do.

Untapped Cities: What are you looking forward to the most in the latter half of 2012?
Eric: We are going to wind down in September for about half of a year to write and record our second record. We are excited to get a bunch of new songs down and take our live set to the next level. We’ve been out for over two years on this last album cycle. We are looking forward to experimenting and making our live shows the best we can with the songs that we have. We’ve been playing three new songs live now. It has been exciting to play the new material on stage.

Untapped Cities: What can we continue to expect in the future?
Eric: We will have a new album out in the spring. We will continue to tour. Personally, I would like to do more collaborations. We are young and new band still. We’ve met so many artists on the road that it would be nice to take a week in the studio with a band and write a song together. A lot more touring next year and hopefully everyone likes our new record.

Keep up with Young the Giant and the band’s summer tour on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Additionally, download the group’s latest album here. Follow the author at @untappedalley.