How is this for a Throwback Thursday? Before they commanded a worldwide audience to “Shut Up and Dance”, the hip guys here at Ear to the Ground admired them deeply. So much so that we interviewed front man Nicholas Petricca in November of ’12, before their rise to indie rock glory. The hard working Cincy band is known for their catchy tunes and energetic live shows. While always a great band, they didn’t break the mainstream until we covered them at ETTG. Coincidence? I will let you decide.
Walk the Moon have come a long way since their first national exposure with the song “Anna Sun” in Summer of 2011. Between tours with some big names (fun., Young the Giant, Grouplove) and TV show appearances with Carson, Conan, and Letterman, Walk the Moon have carved out a steadily growing fan base with “baby steps” that lead singer and keyboard/synthesizer Nicholas Petricca noted in a recent interview with Ear to the Ground Music. Their debut, Walk the Moon, was released by RCA Records in June of 2012 and has led to their biggest headlining tour to date. Check out what Nicholas had to say on the road of the early part of this tour:
What can you tell me about what Walk the Moon is up to right now?
Right now we’re in Jackson, MS, on our way from a show last night in Atlanta to a show tomorrow night in Dallas. We just got back from being on tour with fun. in Europe. We had been in Europe for a couple weeks this summer, but this was the first time we got to really spend time there. It went so well that we’ll be going back to headline in February and March . We just started this tour in Nashville the other night.
Walk the Moon played 107.7 The End’s Summer Camp in August with fun. as the headliner. Was that your first encounter with them or had you already set up the European tour?
We had already set up the tour by that point, but it was great to get to spend some time with them there before the tour started.
You guys have gotten to play with a lot of great bands, but what would you say has been your biggest break to this point?
It’s all baby steps. It used to be “if we get signed, that’ll be the break” or “if we play on TV, that’ll be the break”, but they’re all little steps. We hadn’t anticipated this middle period where we are playing for crowds of 300 all the way up to 1000. Getting great opening slots has been crucial. We’ve had the chance to open for Young the Giant, Fitz and the Tantrums, Kaiser Chiefs, fun., Grouplove a while back. Getting the chance to get exposure in cities we hadn’t been in before was huge, especially in Europe. With a band like fun. that has worldwide popularity, we played for up to 1000 people in cities we hadn’t been before.
Feel free to abstain from this question, but who would you say has been your favorite artist to play with?
Well, a personal favorite is from a show we played in our hometown [Cincinnati] named Shadow Raptr. They opened for us at a headlining show. Young the Giant, too, is great example of a band that works really hard, has great songs, and pulls it off well live.
What’s been your favorite show, venue, or event that WTM has played in the last year?
We got to play a lot of festivals this year. Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza. My favorite was a little-known festival in Dover, DE, called Firefly. It was a new festival with an unbelievable lineup. It felt like a mix between Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza because it wasn’t an overwhelming number of people. It was a perfect foresty, hippie vibe, which is great for festivals. Some of that lineup was Cake, which is one of my all-time favorites. Jack White headlined one night, Polica is a new band I’m really getting into, and the Killers headlined as one of their first shows in a while, which was bad ass.
You mentioned Cake being an all-time favorite. What are some of the biggest influences you’ve been listening to recently?
Bruce Springsteen, actually, is what I’ve listened to a lot lately. I hadn’t listened to a whole lot of him before. Not the newer stuff, but Born in the USA and stuff like that. He has so much heart and is actually a fantastic lyricist. We’ve been listening to a lot of Little Dragon, too, which is a group from Sweden. Really sexy, moody electro stuff with a bluesy, soulful singer. We’ve been incorporating a lot more electronic stuff, so they’re a big influence.
What was the process like for writing and recording the latest album, with some relation to the first album, i want i want!?
The goal with this album was to capture the live energy of our shows. i want i want! Didn’t capture what we were doing in person, like the bombastic energy. Our producer, Ben Allen, captured the vibe really well with rawness and big sounds, which was something we wouldn’t know how to do on our own. The tracks from the first album that we put on Walk the Moon were re-recorded to reflect some of that.
What makes for a great live show, from the perspective of an artist and an attendee?
My favorite artists aren’t afraid to be themselves. What people related to is not straying from who they are and letting it all out in the performance. When someone is just phoning it in or going through the motions, people can tell. When their heart is in it, that effects people. Bon Iver is an artist that is so passionate. [They’re] not up there going crazy, but [they’re] just so passionate and locked in.
What would you say is your favorite thing about being a part of Walk the Moon?
That’s a good question. It’s a dream come true already. We’re constantly walking forward, but it’s a dream to make music for a living. We’re surrounded by great people and feel so supported by our producers, family, and friends. The fact that this is my daily life, that’s the best part. I love meeting new people and spreading positive feelings and energy. I love that for some people this can be a release.
If you could pinpoint one moment, what would you say was the point where you realized just how real it is that you’re getting to do this for a living?
That’s hard to put into one…
Any stand out in the last month, even?
The first night of this tour we played in Nashville. It’s always an experience the first night because you just set up and hope that people show up. [laughs] Nashville sold out the night before the show. When I started singing “Iscariot” I could barely hear my own voice. “Iscariot” is the slow, dark ballad, so it wasn’t really expected. It was so moving to hear the crowd singing every single word.
“Iscariot” is a favorite of me and some of my friends. Can you tell me about the process in writing that track?
I wrote that song in the last months of college. I was a music major, so I was writing songs for my thesis and writing a paper about applying classical theory to rock music. I wanted to write a song that was mostly vocals. As far as lyrical content, it was about someone close and a feeling of betrayal.
Thanks so much to Nicholas for taking some time to chat with us. Walk the Moon have been a fantastic release of positive energy for me and so many music listeners as their name has spread into more of our ears. I’m thankful for the music they produce and am excited for what’s next, just like Nicholas is. I’ll be seeing the guys in Seattle at the Showbox Market on November 23rd and you should check out Walk the Moon as they come to your town in the near future during this massive touring season: https://www.facebook.com/walkthemoon/app_123966167614127
11/1/12 Cincinnati, OH The Madison Theater
11/6/12 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
11/7/12 Atlanta, GA Masquerade – Hell Stage
11/9/12 Dallas, TX Trees
11/10/12 Austin, TX The Belmont
11/12/12 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
11/15/12 Santa Ana, CA Observatory
11/16/12 Los Angeles, CA The Fonda
11/17/12 San Francisco, CA Slim’s
11/21/12 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
11/24/12 Vancouver, CAN Electric Owl
11/27/12 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court
11/28/12 Denver, CO Bluebird
12/03/12 The Loft – Lansing, MI
01/18/13 Fine Line Music Cafe – Minneapolis, MN
01/21/13 Deluxe – Indianapolis, IN
01/23/13 Water Street Music Hall – Rochester, NY
01/24/13 Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
01/25/13 Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY
01/26/13 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
01/29/13 The Southern – Charlottesville, VA
01/30/13 Legends @ Appalachian State University – Boone, NC
01/31/13 9:30 Club – Washington DC
02/01/13 Theatre of the Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
02/02/13 The Met – Cranston, RI
02/04/13 Higher Ground Lounge – Burlington, VT
02/06/13 Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
02/07/13 Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
02/08/13 Metro – Chicago, IL
02/09/13 Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH