Shut Up and Dance

Listen Up Walk the MoonTalking with WALK THE MOON.

By Lindsey Lowe Osborne

You may know our friends WALK THE MOON by a little song called “Shut Up and Dance”—if not, I’ll give you 10 minutes to go listen to most any radio station (country and rap excluded), and I’ll bet you’ll hear it there. “Shut Up and Dance” might be the (awesome) song that got everybody and their mamas into WALK THE MOON, but the band has been making moves forward for quite a while, says Kevin Ray (bass and vocals). Speaking to the wild mainstream success of “Shut Up and Dance,” Ray says, “I am most surprised by the time perspective of everything. To us, we have put in so much time and made so many slow, incremental gains, but to everyone who isn’t involved, our career seems to just explode out of nowhere. I can definitely understand why it seems like that, though.”

Ray is joined by bandmates Nick Petricca (lead vocals, keyboards), Eli Maiman (guitar, vocals), and Sean Waugaman (drums, vocals) in WALK THE MOON, which was formed in 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Started by Petricca, the band morphed into its current version in 2010. Since 2008, the band has put out three albums: I Want! I Want! in 2010; Walk the Moon in 2012; and Talking Is Hard in 2014. “The success of Walk the Moon has given us a fantastic platform from which we can talk about some more important issues like we do in Talking is Hard,” Ray explains. “Right now we are just concentrating on touring this album and spreading this amazing energy, and hopefully we can expand on this in the next album.” An example of that is “Different Colors,” off the new album, which says, “Different colors / We carry each other / We’re just different colors / This is why we’re biting the bullet / We know the kids are right.”

And speaking of touring, the gang is coming through the Magic City on Oct. 18 at Iron City. I haven’t seen them live yet, but you don’t have to have all of your marbles to know it’s going to be an electric show. “For me, playing music live is both the genesis and the end point,” Ray says. “We often create music in a live setting, whether it’s together in a studio, or on a piano by ourselves in a practice room. There is a deepness to what connects us as musicians when we create music together that cannot be found anywhere else in life, and it is very addictive.”

Beyond that promise of chemistry is the music, which feels like a mashup of Passion Pit and Vampire Weekend in the best way possible—it, too, is addictive and honestly, it will make you want to do something crazy like go for a run or, well, shut up and dance. “I hope that our music conveys a sense of empowerment, because it has definitely empowered me. Partway through writing the music for this album, it started to become clear what the overall message was. That is how we came up with the title Talking Is Hard, because we realized that communication in modern society, while readily available through social media and technology, was becoming more rare on a physical human level,” Ray says. “We wanted to empower people to be themselves and not be afraid to speak their minds. It is a blessing that we are all so different and we should embrace that and celebrate those differences.”

If you haven’t explored WALK THE MOON’s full discography, my advice is that you run and do so right away. Start with “Tightrope” and “Anna Sun” from Walk the Moon and go from there.  Ray’s favorite from the new album is “Aquaman”: “I think my favorite song that we recorded for our album, Talking Is Hard, was the last one, ‘Aquaman.’ It is not only a special song musically, but it is also special because we almost didn’t record it. We were out to dinner celebrating the end of the recording process and we all were talking about how we never quite tackled the song in the studio. It was then and there that we decided to give it one more go and spent the rest of the night, into morning, making sure it made the cut. I am so glad it did, because it is one of the best moments of our live show.”

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