WALK THE MOON threw us a resounding proverbial hug with their new album ‘Talking is Hard’ prompting their audience to crank up the music when life gets tough. And well, just to shut up and dance. As the band head into an even busier period of touring after achieving their first US no.1 single with ‘Shut Up and Dance’, they will be arriving on UK shores again very soon. With the recent announcement of a May UK tour, to co-inside with the release of their third album, the band are ready to win our hearts all over again.
But before all that, we sat down with guitarist Eli Maiman to chat about all things WALK THE MOON – the new album, learning curves, first gigs and more.
‘TALKING IS HARD’ is full of upbeat, outrageously catchy songs. The message of the album is nonetheless just as intense providing real meaning alongside the upbeat rhythms. Whether you’re singing about self-expression or positivity, what I took from the album is its strength. Its empowerment. What does the album mean to you?
“TALKING IS HARD is really about the human desire to connect, and the struggle that we go through every day to do so. For it being such a basic urge, it sure gives us a lot of problems, despite technology making it easier to communicate than ever before. The album is about rising above that. The message of the album is absolutely one of empowerment.”
Of all the songs on ‘Talking is Hard’ which lyric resonates with you the most?
“It changes, day to day. Most consistently, though, it’s ‘Aquaman’.”
‘Aquaman’ was the last song you worked on for the album, it’s probably my favourite. Moments like that when you pull a song together on the last day of recording it must be a sweet moment when it all comes together like that?
“Time can work both for us and against us. With too much time, you can really get bogged down in small details. Digging into “Aquaman” at the very last moment forced us to be decisive and follow our instincts. We all feel like it’s kind of a magical moment.”
In terms of actually recording the album, what were the studio sessions like?
“This was probably our best recording experience to date, and a lot of the credit for that goes to Tim Pagnotta, our producer. He kept the sessions positive, fun, and productive. The record wouldn’t be what it is without his joyful influence.”
I want to talk a little about the album artwork, what inspired it? Did you have any other ideas that didn’t make the cut?
“We had SO many ideas. Actually, what ended up as the cover photo was just supposed to be a promotional shot. We had a whole other cover planned that didn’t have us on it at all. The detachment of Sean’s head started as a joke, but then one of us said, “Hey, actually, that’s kind of cool… what if…” And now it’s the cover art.”
Where’s the most unusual place that a song idea or lyric has come to you?
“The chorus in “Spend Your $$$” actually came from Sean just goofing around. I think he was pondering if he was safe in a particular neighborhood, and he decided that no one would rob him because he’s got “nothing of value,” which he declared in a very David Byrne-y way. That became the chorus of the song.”
If you could go back and release a song as a single from each of your past albums, are there any songs that you wish you could’ve released?
“Oh man. The “what if” game is so intriguing and dangerous. “Jenny” is a song from our self-titled record that seems to have grown in popularity with our fans over the years. Sometimes I wonder if it could have been a single.”
It’s clear that you’re very close to your fans, they’ve been on this crazy journey with you from the start and you share pretty much everything with them. Is there a band that you yourself are personally a big fan of and would love to meet?
“I would love to sit down with David Byrne and pick his brain for a while. His music has been a huge influence on WALK THE MOON, and his book How Music Works really affected how I think about and approach music.”
What was the first gig that you personally went to yourself as a punter? Do you think your first live gig experience had any influence on who you are today – did it spur you on to start your own band?
“My first gig was Weird Al, way back when I was 10. I’m not sure it sent me hurdling down a path towards becoming a musician, but it was a great time!”
Do you remember your very first gig together? How did it go?
“Yea, of course! It was at a small club in Cincinnati called the Northside Tavern. It had a capacity of about 300, and it was sold out. So so so much fun. We remember it fondly.”
If you had to sum up what you’ve learnt over the past few years of your career, what would that be?
“If you want something, go get it. Just do it. Don’t wait for anyone to do it for you. No one is going to hustle for you if you won’t hustle for yourself.”
WALK THE MOON are touring the UK from 20th May through to 23rd May, pre-sale tickets are available from Wednesday 18th March here.