It’s a chilly night in Manhattan, but an assorted crowd of neon-clad fans has gathered outside Midtown’s Terminal 5 dressed like they’re headed off and away to a summer EDM festival. Bright face-paint complements their glow-in-the-dark accessories — it is a curious sight, because they’re here to view a group that bills itself just as one indie rockband.
Backstage, Walk the Moon’s Nick Petricca, Eli Maiman, Kevin Ray and Sean Waugaman — all dressed more colorfully as opposed to fans — are discussing the peculiarities with their newfound fame. Earlier within the month, their Cincinnati hometown named April 1st “Walk the Moon Day,” and many weeks before that, they an unexpected encounter with one in their favorite actresses. “We’re huge fans of Emmy Rossum as well as the show Shameless,” says Ray, this guitar rock band’s bassist. “As bull crap, we’ve had her on our green room rider for a while. Somehow our tour manager pulled some strings and finished up getting her to get to a show and meet us backstage.”
“I’m sure she thought it was just a little creepy,” adds lead singer Petricca. “Which it truly is.”
When Walk the Moon debuted in 2012, they spray-painted the rock charts using the upbeat, house-party sound of single “Anna Sun.” Not only did the song supply the burgeoning band its first hit, the accompanying video (depicting an underground jazzercise rave) gave them a whole new identity. “The ‘Anna Sun’ video was what set us using a course,” recalls Petricca. “We were a celebration band and college band, a bar band. We definitely always wanted to make people dance, but following ‘Anna Sun’ video was already released at this big paint party that any of us had in Cincinnati — once we had face paint — we remarked that there’s this a sense childish wonder in addition to preserving the inner child that may be central to Walk the Moon, as a result of the sort of Lost Boys in Peter Pan and Neverland face paint.”
The clip went viral, but could it received its 10 millionth view, the group began plotting the way to top it. “We were hungry to look bigger and find out how much further we can easily take this guitar rock band for the next record,” says Maiman. “I know there have been a couple times basically we were scripting this record where i was like, ‘This is “Anna Sun,” part two! This is the one!’ None of them were.”
Three years later, Walk the Moon have recently outdone themselves: “Shut Up and Dance,” a Killers-style update on Eighties pop hits such as Hooters’ almost-forgotten “And We Danced,” has become a radio staple. Their subsequent LP, Talking Is Hard, has become much more popular than their debut, as well as the lines outside their shows are growing both longer plus much more glittery.
To hone their new New Wave sound, the group took a long-anticipated break from touring and decompressed for a masonic lodge in northern Kentucky. There, the quartet found themselves encompassed by a small collective of creative types in a spot Ray describes as “a super old building that type of appears like an elementary school on the Twenties.” Taxidermy and skeletons lined the walls, and a gaggle of visual artists occupied the basement, creating graffiti and printing T-shirts. “We just weren’t secluded from the Bon Iver, cabin-in-the-woods sort of way,” says Maiman.
After writing in the lodge, the group flew to L.A. to record their radiant batch of latest songs. The result is an optimistic time capsule of pop-music quirkiness. “We pull coming from a lot of different eras but especially stuff has a hint of weird, artists which might be unafraid to be kooky,” Petricca says, citing the Talking Heads, Prince and David Bowie. “We went into your record with all the intention to become ambitious and seeing how far we can easily take Walk the Moon’s sound. We wanted to visit in uncharted territory.”
That meant not just a sonic shift. This time, this guitar rock band paid particularly attention to their lyricism and aimed to empower fans feeling — to quote one in their song titles — “Down inside Dumps.” “It’s getting pretty gnarly available,” says Petricca. “From that initial inner child, we’re choosing a stand. It’s from the song ‘Different Colors’: ‘We have in mind the kids are right.’ A kid doesn’t care in case you are gay, black, white, green, whatever. It’s not just tolerating people’s differences — it’s celebrating them.”
“It’s as if we reverse-engineered a notion album,” says Ray. “After the simple fact we looked back and saw it is so connected. It really became a part of our everyday activities.”
What empowers Walk the Moon? “Pizza,” says Ray. Petricca, somewhat more serious, points to artists who use their fame for you pleas for change in the world. “I think it’s cool when individuals recognize that they are with a platform,” says the singer. “We’re realizing that our platform is rising and our congregation is spreading and multiplying. We’re just seeking to be good achievable.”