Walk The Moon
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Walk The Moon
Nicholas Petricca (vocals, keyboards) / Kevin Ray (bass, vocals) / Eli Maiman (guitar, vocals) / Sean Waugaman (drums, vocals)
This past June, Seattle news and culture blog Seattlest.com posted a review of a show by Walk The Moon. It read like this: “Walk The Moon hit the stage with so much energy that the crowd immediately pushed forward and started dancing. It's refreshing to see a band that's having as much, or more, fun than the people there to see them. They took us back to the days of basement dance parties on hot summer nights, where everyone's just happy to be alive and among friends.”
That review pretty much sums up this young Cincinnati band’s mission statement: “We want our music to be the most fun thing you've ever listened to in your entire life,” says bassist Kevin Ray. “We want it to not just affect you emotionally, but also physically in that it makes you want to dance.”
Everything Walk The Moon does is infused with a playful spirit, from their radiant live shows, where the crowd often coalesces into one joyful, pogo-ing mass, to the songs the band are currently recording for their debut album. The music brims with sparkling synth-heavy pop hooks, chanted melodies, sunny harmonies, and agile polyrhythmic grooves — a sound influenced by the New Wave stylings of their favorite artists Talking Heads, David Bowie, and The Police. “We started describing it as an ‘indie-pop fiesta’ and that kind of stuck,” says singer, songwriter, and keyboardist Nicholas Petricca.
Launched in 2008 by Petricca, Walk The Moon has steadily made a name for itself as an unsigned band over the last few years, attracting a broad mix of fans who have happily submitted to a pre-show face-painting ritual conducted by band members to get everyone into the communal spirit of the event. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Dude, what are you doing here? How have you heard of us?’” marvels guitarist Eli Maiman. “But they're there, they've got face paint on, and they’re playing air guitar. It's awesome. We just create the music we love and hope that other people love it, too.”
Walk the Moon’s appeal has also extended to such press outlets as Spin.com, The New York Post, Esquire.com, MTV.com, as well as Nylonmag.com, who called them “pure, unadulterated fun” and NME.com, who raved about their “bold, broadly beaming” sound. They were also handpicked to be featured during SXSW on Last Call With Carson Daly.
So who is Walk The Moon? Petricca, Ray, Maiman, and drummer Sean Waugaman are all Ohio natives in their early 20’s who became acquainted in various ways. Petricca and Ray knew each other as toddlers (their mothers were close friends), Ray and Waugaman had played in bands together, and Petricca met Maiman through the local scene in Cincinnati.
“Being a musician has always been a career dream for me,” says Petricca, a golden-throated crooner who began playing piano as a child and singing in high school. “So I needed to find people who wanted to do this as badly as I did, which these guys all did.” Their first gig together was at Cincinnati watering hole the Northside Tavern. “We thought, ‘If we could just get 50 people in, the room would look fine,” Ray recalls. “Then 350 people showed up.” Walk the Moon’s shows, including jubilant sets at this year’s SXSW, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza festivals, boasted a similar vibe. “Bonnaroo was everything we could want from a Walk The Moon show,” Waugaman says. “Everybody was sweaty and muddy. There were people standing on tables and on each other.”
Walk The Moon are currently in the studio, and are looking forward to finishing up their album, which is being produced by Ben H. Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective). The album will feature a host of new songs as well as new versions of songs from their independently released 2010 album I Want, I Want, including the viral sensation “Anna Sun.” The eye-catching video for “Anna Sun” sparked major buzz when it was posted on tastemaker blog “All Things Go” and tweeted about by indie label Neon Gold Records.
“We wanted the video to get people interested and then for the live show to kick their asses,” Petricca says. The clip for “Anna Sun” — a happy-sad sing-along affair that claims “this house is falling apart” before declaring “We’re gonna rattle this ghost town!” — features Petricca cavorting with colorfully dressed young Cincinnatians sporting leotards, headbands, and face paint. The video neatly captures the creative heart of Walk The Moon’s music.
“I like to write about this idea of feeling young throughout your life,” Petricca says. “’Anna Sun’ is about eternal youth, and it recalls a lot of my memories from college, but it also addresses the fear of losing that innocence and falling into a routine. I feel like the things we do to escape, like going out and partying, are to recapture the imagination you had a child, which is something that speaks to me personally as a songwriter. All of my favorite songs have always set my imagination running. In that sense, I love the idea that we could be a band that gets people into Neverland, and lets them make their own movie in their head while they're listening.”
You don’t get this kind of immediacy in music much anymore, not in a band that can play with such precision. You rarely see a five-piece just a few years out of college playing with the gifted focus of consummate professionals while also throwing themselves around stage with the abandon of kids at a punk show in someone’s friend’s basement. Magic Man — and particularly frontman Alex Caplow — leave themselves on the stage, roughing up their tight, euphoric pop anthems and giving up everything as they simultaneously invite you in.
In a way the band’s been two decades in the making. Alex and his childhood friend Sam Lee met in preschool grew up playing in bands together and stayed close through college, when they started a new project while working on a farm in Europe one summer. Now they’re living a particularly lucid version of that childhood dream — playing summer amphitheaters all over the country with three of their friends (Gabe Goodman, Justine Bowe, Joey Sulkowski), their debut single “Paris” a staple on alternative radio, a publishing deal with Dr. Luke. It’s telling of the unlikely but inherent intimacy of their hook-heavy rock songs that their fans are superbly loyal; the atmosphere at each performance is one of vitality and recognition, the audience responding as if they were witnessing the Bruce Springsteen of their era, those stadium-size guitar riffs reimagined for a generation raised on synth.
Magic Man’s music at its best creates a sense of weightless promise. Album standouts like “Waves” and “Catherine” are effortless, epic and delivered without pretense, and the band’s full-length debut Before The Waves is built on a rare mix of innocence and experience. It — along with Magic Man’s widening tour orbit — serves as something of a statement of intent for the band: they’re here to keep doing this, turning every show into something singular, reckless, comfortable, and real.
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