Cage the Elephant on the loose in Albany
By JULIA DAY
In 2006, Kentucky natives Matt Shultz, Brad Shultz, Jared Champion, Daniel Tichenor, and Lincoln Parish came together to form the American alternative rock band Cage the Elephant. Ten years, four albums, and one Grammy nomination later, the band is gearing up to tour North America this summer to promote their new album, “Tell Me I’m Pretty.” Along the way, Cage the Elephant will be rocking the Times Union Center in Downtown Albany on Wednesday, May 11.
In an interview with the Albany Student Press, Cage the Elephant vocalist Matt Shultz described the band’s early years and formation of their members.
“Me and Brad, our guitarist, are brothers, so we were always playing together growing up,” said Shultz. “We had known Daniel Tichenor because his father and my father used to play in the same folk-singer-songwriter circle when we were growing up…We met Jared in high school and started a different band, that was our high school band, but some of the other members left to pursue school further. That’s when Daniel joined, and Lincoln as well. That’s kind of how it took shape.”
Influenced by bands and musicians including David Bowie, The Beatles, Pixies, and Talking Heads, Cage the Elephant’s style has encompassed sounds from alternative, punk, blues, and indie rock. The band’s latest single, “Mess Around,” ranked as Cage the Elephant’s sixth Billboard Alternative number one spot. The title has likened the group amongst heavy hitters including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park, Foo Fighters, Green Day, R.E.M, and U2 as one of seven bands to hold more than five number one singles on the Alternative chart.
At the beginning of their career the band moved to London, where they released their self-titled debut album “Cage the Elephant” in 2008. The album’s single “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” launched the band onto mainstream radio airwaves, reaching number three on the Alternative songs chart in the U.S. and number 83 on Billboard Top 100.
Cage the Elephant’s sophomore album in 2011, “Thank You, Happy Birthday,” spawned the single “Shake Me Down,” claiming number one on both US Billboard Rock and Alternative Songs and earning a nomination for Best Rock Video at the 2011 MTV Music Awards.
The release of the band’s third album again led to number one charting singles. “Melophobia,” released in 2013, had success with songs “Come a Little Closer” and “Cigarette Daydreams.” The album earned Cage the Elephant a Grammy nomination in 2015 for Best Alternative Music Album.
Ten years after their formation, Cage the Elephant is back and better than ever in 2016. Their fourth album “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” has launched the band with its sixth number one single and a national summer tour.
In addition, “Tell Me I’m Pretty” comes with a new twist. Dan Auerbach, guitarist and vocalist of the award-winning rock band The Black Keys, produced the album, helping with creative contributions during recording.
“Dan has the incredible ability to go on his first instinct…he’s like a musical encyclopedia” said Shultz. “We would cut a track, and then once we cut it he’d have everyone come into the control room and we’d just spin records…Once we were all vibing on different things, maybe it was a baseline that stood out, or a beat, we’d say ‘Alright let’s cut this song again.’ And whether it changed the song in composition or completely in feel, it definitely changed the spirit. It was a really great learning experience.”
“Tell Me I’m Pretty” has received positive reviews by critics. Rolling Stone claimed the album as “their best yet – melodically taut garage rock with psychedelic flourishes and a fighting edge.”
“It’s a much rawer record than we’ve ever made before,” said Shultz. “There are definitely a lot of elements of toning the beat back…It holds much of the same intensity that we had in the past but is restrained.”
Shultz encourages aspiring musicians to work hard at what they love.
“Play as much as you possibly can…and write as much as you can,” said Shultz.
This summer on tour, these “caged elephants” are being let loose. Cage the Elephant will make their way to cities including New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, and dozens of others while on tour. On May 11, the elephants will rock Albany in a performance that’s sure to be unforgettable.