Grammy-nominated Cage the Elephant has had nothing but whirlwind success in the past 10 years. From their first and second albums, Cage the Elephant and Thank You, Happy Birthday respectively, to the commercial success of their third album, Melophobia, which charted on multiple music charts as well as got nominated for Best Alternative Album, the band from Bowling Green, Kentucky have had a roller coaster of a musical career. Their 4th album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, was released last December.
I got to chat with guitarist Brad Shultz about their success, new album, and biggest headlining tour to date.
Tell Me I’m Pretty’s first single “Mess Around” peaked at number 1 on multiple charts in the US and Canada, and has become the band’s sixth #1 track on the Alternative charts. This catapults Cage the Elephant to one of 7 bands (including prolific artists such as Foo Fighters, Green Day, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers) to have more than five #1 tracks on the 28 years of the Alternative chart’s history.
“It's crazy.” Shultz chuckles, “We’ve been really blessed with people being able to connect with our music and it's been a bit crazy seeing our little Kentucky band go from Bowling Green to world travelers.”
Tell Me I’m Pretty pushes the advances that were made by their 2013 album, Melophobia. Rolling Stone touts it as “...their best yet - melodically taut garage rock with psychedlic flourishes and a fighting edge.” With the success of their previous album, many artists would approach their following album with a bit more care. But Shultz mentions that they learned early that going into an album with a certain level of expectations can be detrimental.
“You want people to enjoy the show and enjoy the new songs but you don’t really build any expectations up towards how people are going to receive things. It has been great though. I was surprised that people knew that many lyrics from the new record already. Yeah it's really good. We make music that we love and express the feelings that we have and things that are going through our minds. So we don’t build expectations towards how people are going to receive that. I mean people may connect with it in that their going through the same things that Matt in those lyrics are going through. Kind of get them through some tougher times. We almost screwed ourselves after the first record. We kind of had certain expectations then and it affected our song writing to a certain extent. So we worked really hard to get rid of those expectations.”
Produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, this album marks a departure from working with Jay Joyce, who produced their previous albums. Shultz mentions that going with him gave the band “a different perspective.” Lineup changes also hit the band with the addition of keyboardist Mattan Minster and Nick Bockrath, the latter of which took over for lead guitarist Lincoln Parish. Shultz sees it as a positive changes.
“Theres definitely changes in the dynamics or the group but I think that was part of the growth of the band. There was a reconfiguration of energy.”
Cage the Elephant also boasts a reputation for an explosive live show, and their current headlining tour is their biggest to date. Past shows this year have touting the performances as an “Intense rock show,” and “captivating.” Shultz explains that you can “Expect the unexpected. People can expect an honest performance. We want to connect with people and make an impact on people. And have people make an impact on us. People can expect that if anything.”
Cage the Elephant comes to San Diego Valley View Casino Center with Portugal. The Man on June 22nd.