Exclusive Interview: Walk The Moon

Credit: artforprogress

“We still love sex, drugs and rock and roll”

It’s good to see Walk The Moon keeping their feet on the Earth after a crazily successful year which saw the band propelled into indie-pop stardom. The Ohio band took the UK by storm with their house-party hit “Shut Up and Dance” last year, proving even more popular than previous hit “Anna Sun”, the song which effectively launched their career. Since then, Walk The Moon have been through a whirlwind of success, touring the world to bring their music to the likes of Japan, Europe and South America. Lead singer Nick Petricca, bassist Kevin Ray, drummer Sean Waugaman and guitarist, Eli Maiman, formed the band as it is now back in 2010 and have since released 2 major label albums: “Walk The Moon” and “Talking Is Hard”.

Now, backstage in Bristol, Laura Leichtfried catches up with the band about the highlights of their current “Talking Is Hard” tour, the golden years of college and…Pokémon?

Hi guys! How are you finding the tour so far?

Nick: It’s been very busy, but busy is good. We’ve done a few dates in Europe now, and just before that we did a tour through Asia and Australia, so it’s been a very international year for us.

And South America next as well!

Nick: Yeah exactly, it will be the first time ever for us!

Have you had much chance to look around the cities you’ve been to?

Nick: As much as we can, we do love to do that. Some days we are too busy to do much touristy stuff, but when we get the chance. On a day like today for instance, I got up early and walked around the city and along the river, past Apple (the cider boat) where we had some beverages, and explored the cathedral which was beautiful as well.

It is a beautiful city! Would you say you have a favourite city from the tour so far?

Eli: On this tour? (laughs) All of them!

Nick: It’s so hard to pick a favourite. We really enjoyed going to Japan, which is where we kinda started this year. But you know, travelling is interesting because you get to see cultural differences in audiences, some audiences are very polite during the songs and then just totally lose their shit in between, and then some are kinda the opposite and so it’s interesting to see those differences and it keeps it interesting- it makes us really stay on top of it every single night to get the audience to love us. (laughs)

Would you say touring is your favourite part of being in the band? Or do you prefer lyric writing, recording or jamming together?

Nick: It sorta changes throughout the year really, but I would say yeah, in general, touring is the centre of our world and that’s where we get to connect directly with people and spread our music, our message- plus that’s where the music gets physical and where fans really take ownership and become a real fan. That’s how I felt when I went to concerts.

We completely agree. So with this tour you’ve known a huge success with “Shut Up and Dance”, one of the biggest tracks of last year. At what point did you realise it would be such an amazing hit? It’s always a must-play at any house party in Exeter!

Nick: (laughing) Awesome. Well our success sort of continues to surprise us, like where we find our music, or when we run into a fan or get recognised or something. It’s kinda surreal. We definitely sensed it was a big one when we wrote it, and when we played it live the first few times, but you never know until it’s really happening and suddenly it’s global and you’re travelling the world, and people are in front of you, singing the song in a place that’s across the globe from where you grew up.

Between your last album and this album, you’ve kept your uplifting beat but seem to have even more intimate lyrics than in previous more sexualised songs, such as “Jenny”. In what way has your inspiration for this new album changed?

Nick: I mean we still love sex, drugs and rock and roll, but there are more world conscious inspirations and events happening whilst we’re writing this album. The world is melting, first of all, and it’s gonna require a huge shift in our consciousness as a race [to improve the situation], and music has always been part of some of the great shifts in history so we just wanted to write something that showed our frustration and our hopes and dreams about that. There’s also a different kind of love, there are a lot of love songs on the record but some are a little deeper, about a kind of everlasting love more than a…fleeting one, not that a fleeting one can’t be fun too. (laughing) But musically, as well, our inspirations were a little more varied, and you can hear on the record there are moments when it’s really in your face, and other times where it’s very romantic and chill, quite laidback. We definitely went in with the intention of experimenting to see how far in every direction we could take Walk The Moon.

We love that experimentation. In some of your songs you also embody university life and living in the moment, for example “Anna Sun”, which you named after a professor at your college. How did your college days inspire you and what made you decide to name the song after a professor?

Nick: The song wasn’t really about her in particular, but it is about college and the post college “what the fuck” stage, like what do I do with this new, shiny, adult life that I have in front of me- it’s scary. So she mostly just has this really beautiful, sort of inspiring name. And it also kinda sounds like innocence when it’s sung, so I don’t know, it was kind of this magical accident, weird kind of gibberish to sing along with in parts of the song.

Do you have any top tips from your college days that you could pass on to university students like us?

Nick: Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, go and introduce yourself and try new things are the things that really come to mind, maybe a little cliché but… (smiles)

Kevin: Don’t expect university to teach you all the secrets, there’s a lot to find out on your own. There’s a whole lot to find out.

Adult life is sounding more and more ominous by the second…yet you guys seem to have so much fun, particularly in your “7 in 7” music videos which you created using your own direction and camerawork. Which were your favourite videos to film?

Eli: Well we’ve just filmed the video for our new single, “Work This Body”, and we had a really, really good time filming and kinda co-directing with Isaac Rentz.

Yeah we really enjoyed that video, it’s very playful.

Eli: (smiling) Great! Yeah, the song is all about going beyond your perceived limitations and using maybe jealousy or feelings of someone else getting something that you want to motivate you rather than letting it get you down, so in the video that kind of translates into this kid using superheroes as inspiration to stand up to bullies.

And as a language student I noticed you used some French as well in there! As well as your other talents, do you guys speak French?

Nick: (laughing) very badly.

Eli: Nick is a great mimic though. I don’t know if he does all the right words but Nick can mimic just about any language. He does a very good south-London accent actually.

Ooh can we hear?

Nick: (in quite a convincing English accent) My problem when I’m doing an English accent is that, erm, I skip around all these different geographical places and don’t know exactly where I’m from. (everyone laughs)

That was pretty impressive. So you’ve released an album every two years, and now it’s been two years since “Talking Is Hard” was released…We know you’ve had a very busy schedule, but is there going to be an album this year, and if not, when can your fans expect some new material?

Nick: Oh we would love that so very much, but we’ve been hitting the road so hard that we’re suddenly like, oh shit, what year is it? I mean I don’t know, there’s some universe in which we can get an album out this year.

Eli: I mean, we’re actually getting an album out next week…

Nick: (remembering) Ooh yeah, that’s right (laughing)

Eli: We’re actually putting out a live record on Friday 26th [Feb]- we recorded our last show of last year of our “Talking is Hard” tour in America at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, and it was just a big night, a beautiful venue and we wanted to record it forever, so we did, and it’ll be out digitally on Friday.

Sounds great, we will have to give it a listen.

Eli: But this is definitely a work trip (laughing), you know, we’ve got the new single out, we’ve got the live record which is called “You Are Not Alone” which is coming out and we’re putting in the time to write songs and start thinking about the future, always wondering “what does the next LP sound like”?

Do you have any more plans to tour around Europe this summer during festival season?

Nick: I think we’re only able to come to Rock am Ring and Rock im Park in Germany, which will be our first European festival that we’ve ever done, so we’re really stoked about that, but unfortunately we won’t be able to make it for Leeds and Glastonbury and stuff like that. But it’s always been something that we wanted to do, so hopefully next year.


Favourite song to perform?

Eli: “Aquaman”

Nick: “Up 2 U”

Sean: “I Can Lift A Car”

Kevin: “Let’s Dance”

Weirdest snack/food you’ve ever eaten?

Nick: Fried bugs in Thailand

Eli: Guacamole with crickets

Kevin: Intestine

Any pre show rituals?

Sean: They’re all secret…

Nick: Yeah, we have secret rituals. Anyone’s welcome to join in, if they happen to be in the room, but we don’t allow anyone to record it or anything.

Who has the most annoying habit?

Nick: I like to leave sweaty clothes in the lounges to dry, and people love that (jokingly)

Any secret talents?

Eli: None that I can share right now… (laughter from everyone)

Nick: Sean is able to make weird sounds come out of just about anything. (Sean moves finger along railing to prove that this is indeed true)

Best dance move?

Eli: Kevin’s the best dancer, he’s got the most ‘moves’, you know what I mean, like ‘moves’ in quotation marks.

Kevin: It’s only because I stay awake at night and study them. (laughter)

Eli: Nick is maybe the most natural mover of the bunch, and then Sean and I are tied for bottom of the dance barrel.

We can’t wait to see it in action later. Last question! If you could be a Pokémon, who would you be?

Eli: I’d be Optimus Prime, is that one?

(doubtful looks and laughs ensue)

Kevin: Hmm, yeah that’s not one (laughing). I would be Mewtwo, it’s rare and epic, but you know not a gigantic Pokémon or anything, but he’s just so, he’s understated.

Sean: I feel like Snorlax right now. (laughter)

Nick: I love Squirtle and maybe Wartortle ’cause-

Eli: What the f*** are you guys talking about! (laughter)

Chaos breaks out at the Pokémon question, resulting in Nick and Kevin entering into an animated debate about which evolution is surely the best. Figuring we have probably caused enough damage to friendships for one day, and with the band due to go on stage in a matter of hours, we descend back down the spiral staircase to reality – but not before receiving a bear hug from Nick and a joking promise to see them at the cider boat later. Turns out talking isn’t really all that hard after all.

Laura Leichtfried

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