Last week the Cincinnati quartet Walk The Moon performed a gig at Scala as a closing act of their UK tour, but just before that, we met Kevin Ray (bass, vocals) and Eli Maiman (guitar, vocals) to know a little bit more about this emerging indie band.
How is the tour going so far? Did you enjoy visiting the UK?
Kevin: The tour it’s been really smooth, way smoother that it was for us headlining in the UK in the past. Now we have some great crew members out with us and a couple of awesome bands following us along. The fans have been great and we got to throw bigger parties now…can’t be going better I believe!
Tell me a little bit of your story, did you meet at highschool?
Eli: Nicolas, our singer, was in a band when he was in college, but they graduated and everyone else from the band quit. He met Kevin because they grew up together, so he called Kevin and they rekindled their friendship quickly and became like a good pair, and then Kevin knew Shawn through growing up with him and the rest knew me from the scene around the town where we lived. So it’s kind of an unremarkable story, just four guys who knew each other around Ohio and start doing it.
How did you get to release your independent album i want! i want! ?
E: When you independent act, you can’t really wait for anyone to give you anything, you just have to go and do it on your own. So we had some money from playing gigs and we just put it all into recording, you know garages, churches, people’s living rooms and where we can afford to do it. And then when we have it done we just put it out.
K: It was way more simple than now that we have this gigantic support: label, management, agency, everything behind us, helping us and pushing us. Back in independent times, you just release whenever you can, and when the moment straights you. It’s not a thing you plan too much for; you just want to get it out there as quick as possible.
Do you feel more pressure now?
K: I think one of the keys to success in this industry is not feeling pressure.
E: I think the pressure is more internal. We all feel we’ve been presented with a big opportunity and we all want to take advantage of it the best we possibly can, so what we are going to do is work as hard as we can, write the best songs we possibly can, tour a lot and meet fans and make fans and hopefully do it the old fashion way, just play live and fuel hearts and minds.
Why the title of the first track of the album is ‘Quesadilla’? (A Mexican dish)
K: I don’t think there is any significance story behind, Quesadilla it’s just a random fun name.
E: Not all songs present themselves with a title, sometimes you write a song and it’s really obvious that it’s called ‘Anna Sun’ or ‘Tightrope’ or ‘Fix It’, but that’s not always the way it goes. When you get into the situation, you go like we might as well called it Quesadilla because it sounded good as anything else.
Every time I hear ‘Shiver Shiver’ I feel indeed identified with the song… Did your hands ever literally shacked when you’re in front of someone you really like?
K: Absolutely. For me personally, performing, being in front of people, talking to anyone in the world, I don’t get nervous around celebrities or in certain situations. I think the only time I ever really get nervous is in front of someone I really really like or admire or something like that.
And how do you hide it?
K: I don’t, I just run away, I run away shaking!
E: Shots of vodka calm the nerves!
You just released the Tightrope EP, which features your second single, “Tightrope,” a sneaky B-side from your 2012 record, a couple of new songs and a Talking Heads cover. Why did you choose this song to be your second single?
E: I think it’s a really good representation of what we do, it’s very conversational between the guitars and the synthesizers, with really strong rhythms section thing happening underneath, and I think that is very indicative or our style and what we do as a band. So we feel the song is really strong and want to give it a proper push to the world and see if it supports it.
How is Cincinnati’s music scene? Which are the new trends?
K: Trends would be the proper word. Cincinnati is a place where it has a music scene of its own. You’re from there, you do this bro! (to Eli)
E: Cincinnati’s scene is really supportive, and we were really lucky to come up in a scene that has a great build and support system. The musicians and the fans they all really love music at a world’s level. And love to see experimentation and bands trying new things.
K: Artists in Cincinnati are very aware of each other and each other’s activities whereas I am from Columbus, Ohio and that was really small if existent at all. In Columbus where you ask one artist what is another artist from Columbus doing, you might not get much of an answer. In Cincinnati everybody knew what was going on and was really aware of what was going on in Cincinnati itself. When artists support each other, the scene grows on its own.
How was supporting Fun and sharing all the success they’re achieving?
E: It was great, it was huge for us. There is no other way that we can come to Europe and play for a thousand people in Luxemburg. It’s a learning experience when you’re watching a band that is that big and they’ve been doing this for a long time, they’ve been working towards this, towards what’s happening now for something like twelve years in different groups and the format still train and that went Fun. There is season the pros. We watched their soundtrack and their shows and we learned a lot in how they operate.
Did they give you some advice?
E: No, they weren’t really generous with the advice, If you want to learn something you just have to kind of absorbing it. It was more observation more than sitting us down and say: “listen kid, the first thing you have to do…”.
K: They are doing so much right and really excel in what they do so you learn a lot really quickly. Because everything that’s going on for them is fast-paced right now so you really suck up a lot of new information.
Which is the video you enjoy making the most?
Eli: Well that’s how Walk The Moon operates. Right now we have two official music videos, one for Anna Sun and one for Tightrope, but we also have seven unofficial videos we did as a way of premiering the record back in 2012 in partnership with Vevo where we recorded 7 music videos in 7 days while we were on tour entirely by ourselves. We plan, shoot and edited, filmed the whole thing. It was a low quality production but a lot of fun. Every night and every day for a week. After the show, before the show and it was one of the best experiences we had as a band working creatively and collectively.
Which parts of the show are improvised? In which situations you feel more comfortable improvising?
K: We’ve all been playing for a long time, in some form or another, in this band at least two yeas now. We have some routines and that and things we settled and liked to get used to, but we still very much a rock band, and every night can be different and there’s no tracks running, there’s nothing pre-recorded, so there’s always room for us to mess around with improvisation. We love to do it sometimes, but it’s pretty screw off the moment.
I know Anna Sun is the name of a teacher you had in high school, but the song doesn’t really have to do with her, but did you ever write a song “dedicated” to someone as a hint?
E: I think all of the songs begin in some biographical place. There was a Jenny, there was a Lisa, these are just names, maybe there were named Veronica. But when you start writing a song it kind of takes on a life of its own. And its characters kind of form themselves in this weird way that I don’t quite understand.
Did you got feedback for any of the girls who you refer to in the songs?
K: There are some girls who are inline waiting to meet us after the show and they tell us: “you know you wrote this song about me”. And we say: “Absolutely yes! It was all about you”
E: If you change the name you can still say it’s about a different girl. You say “Oh yeah it’s about you babe” and then the same to the next one and the next one…etc. That’s disgusting actually.
If you record a mix tape for the girl you love, which song couldn’t be missing?
K: There is a song by Outcast called SpottieOttieDopaliscius. I actually made a mix tape for a girl one time and that was on it.
E: ‘Something’ by the Beatles, a George Harrison song, I think that’s a classic.
Which is your favorite music to fall asleep?
Both: Bon Iver
K: The artist currently known as Bon Iver for sure, but in a good way, not in a way of “this is so boring”. Bon Iver’s music gives you dreams and takes you to other places that you can’t go without.
E: It’s a warm blanket in a freezing day.
Which is the weirdest present you got from a fan?
E: My favorite weird present was a bra, they threw a plain white bra where they had drawn our album mark on to, like really beautifully.
K: In a recent hometown show, we got a baby. Not a life baby but a fake baby. But it was life size and it came flying onto the stage in the middle of a performance. And we all had that moment like: “It’s that real?”
Which is your favorite quote?
E: My dad when I was young and I was leaving the house used to say: “There are only three rules: Don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt anyone else, don’t get anyone pregnant”. I still hear that when I’m going out.
K: My dad gave me my life quote: “At least act like you’ve been there”. All starts in organized sports at a young age, don’t act like an idiot, act like you’ve been there and people will respect you.
Which topic would you write a song about even if the rejection chances were high?
E: I would put out a record of old bard style songs, the Game of Thrones, like an epic record and have Robert Plan on it.
You are going to play in the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, but it’s not your first time there. Are you expecting something new this time?
K: Absolutely. When we played there the first time I thing anyone there had a clue who we were. We were out of our minds tired of missing flights the day before, we had just played in a bunch of shows. It was hot, nobody got clothes on, we had been up for 36 hours straight and it was all an incredibly new experience. Just a few people showed up, but the energy was higher than ever had in our entire life because it was a new thing to go somewhere other than Cincinnati and had crowd of people singing along and dancing along like it’s the end of the world. And when we go back, more people will know us, we’ll be playing in a bigger stage, it’ll probably be at night instead of in the middle of the day when everybody is waking up. It’s a whole different party and will be a whole different experience. We can’t wait!
By Laura Vila