Arriving back in the States after touring around Europe with fun., the members of Walk the Moon found complete joy in their exhaustion. The success of their self-titled debut album and growing mass appeal is evident in the band’s ability to energize a crowd and coerce their loyal fan base to adorn face paint. They have the power to make anyone feel good through their upbeat tunes and entrancing performance, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with these fun-weilders to talk about touring, movie making, and that thing that makes live music great.
Thank you guys for meeting with me. How are you guys doing? How was today?
Eli Maiman: Today was good! Yesterday was kinda fucked up, but today was good!
EM: Yesterday we woke up in Lisbon, Portugal at 6 AM, and I went to bed on my brother’s couch at the Hollywood Tower at midnight the next day.
Nicholas Petricca: Which would be 8 AM Lisbon time.
EM: It was a very full day and a half, and only two flights, which blew my mind.
Sean Waugaman: The Portuguese airport is impossible to get around. You go through a big security line, wait around the terminal, pick up some port wine, but then you get to ANOTHER security line, the customs and immigration line.
Kevin Ray: You know how if you’re going international, you’re leaving the United States, check in with normal airport security, get on the plane, fly into the country, and go through customs in that country? In Portugal, you go through normal security. We sat in the food court, ate some food, thinking we would make our flight, leave on time. So we walk down the terminal to our gate, and suddenly we’re met with a seven hundred person line, and they say, “Oh, this is passport customs.” Are you kidding me? We have to go through customs to leave your country? Wouldn’t you want us to get out as quickly as possible?
SW: We had ten minutes before the flight, and they were saying, “You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.” And we were like, “What?!”
NP: And then we finally get to the gate, where we take a bus all the way out to the middle of a field! And that’s where our plane was.
EM: BUT when we got to Jersey, for customs coming into the country, we stood in line with our passports, and I walked up to the guy, and he looks at me and he goes [in a thick Jersey accent] “Hey, dude, how you doin’?” And I was like, “Yes! America!”
NP: And I almost said, “Tre bien! Shit, I mean…”
So you guys have been here all day in LA then?
EM: Right. We’ve been sleeping in as much as possible.
That actually leads into one of my questions but…eh, let’s just talk. I don’t like any of my questions anyway.
EM: That’s our favorite.
What are some places you like to visit while you’re in LA?
NP: We got in last night, and we went for a car ride. A couple of us went for a car ride with a friend of ours. I don’t know where exactly, but they took us up, and there was a huge scenic view of the city between two mountains at night. It was just so cool. What’s that extremely windy highway?
Mulholland? Or Laurel?
NP: Oh, it might be Laurel Canyon. But it was so cool.
KR: One of our favorite band places, it’s probably super cliche, but Cafe 101. We always hit it up.
NP: We usually stay at the Best Western right there, too. I don’t know if you know about the 7 in 7 videos, but “Tightrope” was filmed at the Best Western, Room 408.
Speaking of the videos, how did you come up with the concepts for them? It reminded me of high school and making videos with my friends.
NP: That’s perfect.
I was almost late for work watching these videos you made!
SW: We basically did the best thing we could do with the time that we had, which was, obviously, seven days.
NP: We were on tour at the time as well. We found out a couple weeks before the record was out that VEVO wanted to help us do this big campaign, which was super awesome. It was a big opportunity for us. They wanted to premiere our videos, and we were like, “Great! We don’t have any. Well, we only have one. And one lyric video.” So we literally only had seven days to do seven videos, and so we went, “Fuck it. Let’s do it.”
EM: Basically it started off with simple things. We thought, “What can we do? Let’s film Nick doing a lip sync through the airport.”
That was the first video I actually saw. It was a cool concept.
KR: We were filming some random things. I had just gotten a GoPro camera, and that’s all we had. They [VEVO] were like, “How do we get a film crew to you? How can we get a guy with a camera?” We were trying to coordinate how we were going to edit it, and then we realized our sound guy has Final Cut on his Mac, so we filmed a video with my camera and tried to edit it in the back of the van between cities.
Did you all collaborate on editing? Who’s the editor?
NP: In order to speed things up and limit band murder [laughs], we actually designated a director for each one. We would all brainstorm on the idea, so we pretty much had an idea for what was going on in each one, but we would say for example, “Okay, Sean, you take this one,” and then his word is law, and that one person would also help editing. For some reason, the videos are my favorite thing that we’ve done.
They were so organic and so fun. You guys are so down-to-earth, as evident in your videos and just talking to you now. It’s so cliche, but how do you stay so grounded?
EM: We live in Ohio!
NP: We live with our parents.
EM: We surround ourselves with normal people. But we’re totally nuts.
KR: We’re extremely lucky to have a couple people with us who are just wonderful, positive people. We’re slowly but surely growing our crew. For the longest time it was just the four of us, then we added our tour manager and sound guy. They’re just so easy to laugh with, and they keep things really calm. We all have our opinions and have to make a thousand decisions all the time, creative or otherwise, so it’s nice to have them around to refocus our energy. Like, we have a meeting about the color of the fine print of the merch shirts, and after sitting in a room for seven hours screaming and crying about this, we need someone who can make a fart joke and make everything okay again. We’re super lucky.
You guys are all so mellow.
KR: It’s all a façade.
EM: You know what I just now realized? Until just now, the one thing that keeps our projects DIY looking and kind of rough is just the fact that we’re not all that skilled at a lot of things. We don’t think, “Okay, so the sidewalk is going to curl up and around us and become Nick’s hair!” You know? We think, “Okay, we’ll slow the video down, and that will be it.” And that’s the entirety of the idea because that’s the limit of our skill set.
All you need sometimes is to just keep it simple.
KR: I’ve been noticing more and more this past year that setting limitations for ourselves helps us big time. For the 7 in 7 videos, if they were to go, “Okay, you have three months and an unlimited budget,” it would look terrible.
NP: And that happens. You see that all the time with artists with million dollar videos.
KR: But you make as much good as you can out of what you have.
Sometimes it’s better when you don’t overthink it.
EM: We didn’t even have friends [for the video]. We needed friends to bring friends. No skills, no friends. Our secret to success.
NP: We were like, “Can you bring some girls? We don’t know any girls.”
So you still live in Ohio. You still call Ohio home?
KR: Our parents’ homes. Eli is the only one who doesn’t live with his parents.
EM: I live in a home that my parents’ own.
Amazing. Do you have any other places you frequent or live in besides Ohio?
NP: Well, the van. The van is really home.
SW: Soon to be the bus.
NP: November 1st. The difference is pretty huge. It changes your lifestyle.
EM: You can lay down and sleep. There’s a bathroom!
KR: You go from leaving the gig, going to the hotel, checking in, getting three-and-a-half hours of sleep, waking up, driving twelve hours by yourself, and then trying to load in an event. Where instead, you get done with the gig, go in the bus and relax, sleep when you want to. Now we have time to do promotions, go to radio stations, do meet and greets.
NP: Or walk to a bookstore or something.
KR: It changes everything.
Changing gears for a second. Artists. Who do you admire?
SW: Steven Seagal. [laughs]
KR: Bottom line, I admire artists who can perform. For instance, Little Dragon is a band favorite. When we went to see them, it was a life-changing experience. For me, it just keeps confirming that bands that perform well live are going to be around a lot longer and continue to make good music.
When I saw you guys perform at the Hollywood Tower with 98.7FM, it was refreshing to hear how well you all sing live.
SW: Thanks! I don’t want to sound like an old man when I say this, but we all grew up in the age before DJs were famous. There are some DJs out there that do incredible things live. But not always.
EM: I’m going to step out on a limb. We just got off tour with fun., and their record makes pretty extensive use of auto tune, which I was pretty apprehensive about going into the tour. It seemed like a copout musically speaking and performance-wise, but then when we got to the shows and Nate, their singer, was using it live. I was listening to the way he would manipulate it and the things he could express with it as a tool.
KR: Not as a crutch.
EM: Right, exactly! And well, he basically showed me my ass for being so judgmental up front. He was really making an art out of the use of this auto tune. I thought that was really cool.
KR: We’ve all experienced going to your first couple of concerts growing up. Your first time you see a band live — you can’t explain why it changes you. You have that unknown reason why you walk away from the concert thinking, “I want to do this for the rest of my life.” It’s so cool that we have the chance to create that situation for ourselves — to play live, keep that going. When I saw the Chili Peppers for the first time, they changed everything for me. And when a band falls short of that…
NP: It’s disappointing.
NP: I feel like rock and roll has a legendary quality about it, this super hero-ness about it. They’re characters in a story. It’s a lot to live up to. To know that we’re a part of that is really cool, but we don’t see that about ourselves. We just go out there and have as much fun as possible and do the best we possibly can, open the door, and invite people to be weird with us.
And you’re a part of that community of people that create that magic. Speaking of magic, Logitech is hosting this great event, and you use their gear. What do you think of their products?
KR: It’s an exciting new venture for us. We’ve been wanting to take this step for a while now. Logitech UE is the spawn of the very beginning of the in-ear monitor world.
SW: They really value performers. They base their core marketing on it. That’s really important to us.
KR: They’ve got a new product that is a pro-level consumer grade earbud type. Someone is going to buy it at the Apple Store, and without realizing it, they’re going to get a great product.
And it’s affordable. You don’t have to be a famous musician to get it. You can get it at the Apple Store. Speaking of Apple, I streamed your performance for the iTunes Festival, and it was awesome.
KR: That was a fun performance, but you could tell we were walking into a P!nk audience. We never experienced this before. We walked on stage, and we could hear our footsteps and a slow clap. Then one girl shouts out “P!NK!” and we were like “Oh no. Oh, Jesus.”
EM: The very first song starts off with a four-part harmony acapella. It requires a lot of confidence, which I did not have.
KR: I was waiting for the quintessential Wayne’s World moment of “You suck!” [laughs]
NP: But after the first song, we warmed up and connected with them, and it was all good.
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