LIVE: Cage The Elephant, Red Bull SoundSpace

Webster’s Dictionary defines Melophobia as an abnormal fear of or aversion to
music.   Cage The Elephant, one of the biggest new Rock bands of the past 10 years,
define melophobia as the title of their upcoming third album (October 8th on RCA
Records).  It’s not that we should be afraid of what they have in store for us, it’s
actually a self-deprecating insight into how the band created the new songs.  “We’re
kind of insecure people,” states guitarist and founding member Lincoln Parish, “we
always question ourselves when it comes to music.  We constantly pick ourselves
apart.”  Possibly that fear is why they have proven to be mainstays on Modern Rock
radio for the past 5 years.

Success is a hard thing to gauge in today’s music industry and a much harder goal
to achieve for the artists who have become post millennium breakouts.  Cage The
Elephant came out of Kentucky in 2008 and hit the ground running earning sales
certifications for their self titled debut and hit single “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked”.
Beyond the industry stats, the tell tale signs of success have become evident to the
band as wedding engagements, babies and home buying temporarily took the place
of song writing since the tour for their second album, Thank, You, Happy Birthday,
came to an end in 2012.  “We took a few months off before we even started writing
this record to kind of become individuals again and have a normal day-to-day living
schedule.”  This hiatus saw the band members dividing as half moved to Nashville,
TN while the rest stayed in their hometown of Bowling Green.  2011 gave them yet
another hit with the single “Shake Me Down” and with hits comes demand.  Hiatus
over.  Back to the studio.

“This album definitely wasn’t easy to make” Lincoln recalls.  “We’re all so different.
5 people coming from totally different places. Our music is slightly schizophrenic,”
he laughs.  He may be laughing but there is always truth in every joke as the band,
although consistent with quality, switched tone from a funky jam style on the first
album to a more raw punk inspired aesthetic on the sophomore effort.  Whether
rhyming or singing, vocalist Matthew Shultz remains a constant identifier to all
radio listeners when a Cage song comes on.  This is a necessity since band members
Brad Shultz (rhythm guitar), Jared Champion (drums), Daniel Tichenor (bass) and
Parish (guitar) have brought new styles to the table from album to album.  Twangy
guitar chords were traded for surf rock riffs.  Funk drum rhythms for punk fill-ins.

Fans can only guess what direction Melophobia will go in.  “We all write together
but everyone listens to different stuff.  I like Patty Griffin Records and Jared listens
to Hip-Hop and [groups] like the Beastie boys.  That’s what’s great about it, that’s
what makes it jell.”  The task of making it jell lands on long time collaborator and
producer Jay Joyce,.  Known for work with Country band Little Big Town, Folk singer
Patty Griffin and Rock band The Wallflowers, Joyce has been successful in reigning
in the “schizophrenia”.  “There are bands that we all love together like The Clash,
Pixies, Nirvana.  We do have a common ground.”  Those commonalities help to
clarify the direction they took on the second album as they broke down the music to
its rawest form.  Pixies are the art punk continuation of The Clash’s legacy, Nirvana
were massive fans of the Pixies.  Just maybe Cage the Elephant is the next step in
that evolution.

Three weeks away from the album’s release, the band make the promotional rounds
and prepare for a performance at Los Angeles’ legendary KROQ in the Redbull
Soundspace.  In front of an intimate crowd of 150 fans they debut new songs “Come
A Little Closer”, “Spider Head” and “Teeth”, a task that has to weigh on their professed
insecurities in a major way.  30-minutes later the crowd is satisfied with the
show. Like a parent with a newborn, the songs are officially in the world delivered
courtesy of Redbull.  Time to let go, release the Elephant and cage the fear.

– Dominic Painter