Walk The Moon’s Eli Maiman Talks New Album, Touring With PINK, & Talking Heads Influence
You know when you go to a concert and everyone is just standing there like their pants are made of two by fours?
Well that doesn’t happen at a Walk the Moon concert.
From the face-painted band members and fans, to the almost non-stop dance-party, the Cincinnati pop-rockers deliver one of the best live shows today. And it’s about to get a whole lot better.
I caught up with guitarist Eli Maiman to talk the band’s rise, touring England with PINK, covering the Talking Heads, and the recording of the follow-up album to their major-label self-titled album (scroll down for the entire audio interview).
You have seen tremendous success over the past two years – from touring with Young the Giant (when I first saw you at the Beachland Ballroom in 2012), to major festivals and touring internationally with big names like PINK – what have you been able to talk away from this? Can you talk some of the memorable life experiences or moments that have impacted you as a band?
Yea, I mean, it’s been kinda funny with how every step I feel like I’m living the dream I dreamt since I was child, ya know. And then every time there’s like another step to take and I’m consistently surprised and pleased with the growth and the life that we’ve chosen to live. Like you said, touring England with PINK, was definitely a big highlight. Playing to 15,000 people a night, as a musician it doesn’t get any better than that. It was really, really fun.
There was one night in Birmingham where we had a like a real Spinal Tap moment. Sean’s drum set got tangled up in the curtain, so when the curtain went up at the beginning of the show, it took Sean’s drum set up with it. So the set flew 20 foot up in the air, and then crashed to the ground and that was the way we started our show. That was our introduction to the Birmingham audience.
Your late summer/early fall tour starts more or less next Friday, August 31st. What can fans expect on this tour? Will you be trying out the new music?
We’re definitely going to be trying some new stuff out. We’ve been holed up in a Masonic Lodge in northern Kentucky for the last two months, working on new stuff for the next record, so we’re really excited to share it with audiences. I’m thinkin’ we’ll do a new tune here, do a new tune there, try some different arrangements. We’re just looking forward getting out on the road and seeing our fans again.
While at the Bunbury Festival (in Cincinnati) you announced a return to the studio – how have you approached your follow up to your self-titled album?
I think mostly, the biggest thing is we tried to not get in our heads, be too inside our heads about it, ya know. We don’t want to over-think it, we just want to do what comes to us naturally and play music and not be too contrived or think about what the smartest move for us is next. So we’re just wariting from our hearts and from our guts and hopefully our audience will come along with us.
At the Bunbury Festival, it was close to home for you guys, you had a lot of family and friends there. I pretty much watched your set with your brother and family back by the soundboard – what was it like to family and friends in those thousands of people?
Ya know the hometown shows are just nuts. I saw people from high school who I haven’t seen in a decade hanging out at the show, and they’re, like, in face-paint and they’re super excited about seeing Walk the Moon, and it’s kinda strange like that.
It’s also really satisfying getting to show your family and your parents what you do on a nightly basis. We see it most nights a week when we’re out on tour, but our folks don’t get to see us work all that often. So that’s definitely special to be able to share that with them.
So something interesting that you guys did, I also saw you at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee – the day after you played the Walk the Moon set, you did a daytime set under the name Kalediscope Space Tribe – where you played all Talking Heads covers (watch the whole set HERE) – what kind of influence has David Byrne had on your sound and songwriting?
Huge, he’s been a huge influence on us. I think that what we really take away from Talking Heads, is that they write just basic pop songs. A lot of them aren’t all that complicated. But there’s always some kind of left turn in there, there’s always something that makes it weird, and just a little bit challenging, despite the enormous pop-hooks, and I think that’s what we strive to do as a band is write great pop songs that just challenge the average listener just a little bit. So, getting to perform all those Talking Heads songs is a real treat. It was a massive pain learning all that material.
Are there any other ‘classic’ artists or groups who have helped shape your style?
Yea, we think about Prince a lot, and Electric Light Orchestra. We’re really influenced by the sounds of the 80s. Maybe not so much the songwriting techniques, but definitely the ways the drums always sounded real electronic and kinda ridiculous, we think that’s really cool, and I think you’ll hear Sean, our drummer, doing a lot of that on the next record – using a lot of, a wide variety of drum sounds influenced by the 80s .
I want to say the first time I saw you, you covered Let’s Dance by David Bowie.
Yea, any song I get to pretend to be Nile Rodgers (David Bowie / Duran Duran / Madonna/ also co-wrote and performed on Daft Punk’s Get Lucky) and Stevie Ray Vaughan I am psyched on. That’s a good song for me.
It seems like out of the ordinary to me, but you’ve partnered with a wine company for a trip giveaway – how did this come about? Do you consider yourselves wine connoisseurs?
We were approached by Thorny Rose wine to partner up on this fall tour, and it made sense for us. I don’t know, sponsorships are weird. I think in general rock n’ roll sponsorships are weird, but the cool thing about it is that it’s allowed us to take this tour to the next level.
We’re gonna have a lights, like a dedicated light show that we’ve never had before. And hopefully it’s going to give us the opportunity to raise the show up to the next level. And give us the opportunity to promote some really great wine! They sent us a couple of cases.
Do you have a favorite type of wine?
We drink a lot of red wine. We’re shacked up in the Mason lodge for eight to nine hours a day, and we usually start working on the wine around lunch.
Walk the Moon starts their late summer/fall tour next Friday, August 31st and play the House of Blues in Cleveland (tickets available HERE) on September 9th. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram – and like them on Facebook.
Walk the Moon is Nicholas Petricca (vocals, keys), Kevin Ray (bass), Sean Waugaman (drums), and Eli Maiman (guitar).
And if you don’t know who the Talking Heads are, here’s Walk the Moon performing one of their biggest hits
- Talking Heads’ ‘This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)’: Who Covered It Best? (klli.cbslocal.com)
- Photos & Review: Cincinnati’s Bunbury Festival (q104.cbslocal.com)
- Bethesda Talks Life On The Road, Bunbury Music Festival & Love For Cleveland (q104.cbslocal.com)
- Walk The Moon’s Eli Maiman Talks New Album, Touring With PINK, & Talking Heads Influence (q104.cbslocal.com)