Next week, Z104.5 The Edge brings back its annual "Low Dough Show" with a double bill of talent on the rise, featuring Walk the Moon and Morning Parade that gives Tulsa a quick peek at what radio execs are hoping will be the next big thing. The band everyone seems to have their eye on, however, is Walk the Moon.
I got to catch up briefly with bassist Kevin Ray last week as the band's current whirlwind tour of the US carried them from Indianapolis to the west coast before winding back out direction this weekend. When speaking with him, you can tell the crazy schedule doesn't faze him: at this point it's all become part of the package for this band.
Formed in Cincinnati in 2008, the band went through a couple iterations before settling into its current configuration with founding members Nicholas Petricca (lead vocals and keyboards) and guitarist Eli Maiman along with drummer Sean Waugaman and Kevin Ray on bass. Things really started to take off, however, as the band put out its independently released album, i want! i want!, in November of 2010. At the time, the group shot a video for the single "Anna Sun" which started a buzz which is still following the band today.
Shot in one take by a Cincinnati production company in one take with a cast of the band's friends, the video captured the attention of fans and music executives alike as it encompassed both the band's energy and the overall feel of its music as a whole.
When asked how important the video has been to the band's launch, Ray shared that "It's pretty much become out calling card. Whenever anyone asks about the band, we send them the link to the video. It pretty much sums up what we do and everything we're about."
As the band started touring behind i want! i want! And the video took off, everything started to snowball for the band. Perhaps the turning point was last year's (2011) SXSW, which saw the band featured by Carson Daly. When asked about that experience, Ray shared that they didn't actually play Daly's showcase or meet him, but were followed around by the crew for a day and had one of their performances recorded. The band was then profiled on Daly's show as one of the standouts of the festival with a later appearance on the show and things really started to roll.
Since then, the band has toured with Fitz and the Tantrums, Grouplove, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and supported bands like Panic at the Disco and Weezer. Moreover, all of the placements have highlighted Walk the Moon's lighthearted and danceable vibe.
As the buzz continued to grow, the group signed with RCA records and released the Anna Sun EP in February with a full-length release due on June 19. When asked about the transition to a major label, Ray admitted there have been some changes to get used to. "For the most part, though, it hasn't been too bad," he shared. "Even though it's part of Sony and this big corporation, we only deal with maybe 20 people on a daily or weekly basis, so it's felt more like being on a smaller label. So far, it's gone really well."
Of course, being on a major label definitely gives the band some clout and opens doors for the group to play bigger shows like the Indianapolis May Day concert sponsored by alt-rock station X103 with a mixed bill that included Staind, Neon Trees and Sleeper Agent. It also opens doors for smaller shows like this Monday night's show at Bob's, sponsored by Z104.5, The Edge.
When asked how big a roll radio has played in the band's growth, Ray readily admitted that it's been essential. "Yeah, radio has played a huge part in this," he shared. "We couldn't do this without the support we've gotten so far."
Even so, it's been the immediacy of songs like "Anna Sun", which shot to the top of the playlist on Sirius/XM Radio's Alt Nation last summer and has continued to pull consistent airplay. When paired up with the type of touring opportunities the band has been presented with, success seems almost a foregone conclusion.
Beyond "Anna Sun" the bounciness and energy of the band screams through the EP in singles like "Tightrope," which balances sinewy guitar licks with a dance beat and a layer of synthesizers that continues the vibe of its predecessor. "Next in Line" puts the keyboards up front, yet carries on in the same vein as the three song EP sets the stage for what promises to be a strong major label debut later this month, just in time to make it the perfect summer soundtrack.
Although the band has taken rise in a relatively short period of time, it has definitely paid its dues with heavy touring behind its independently produced debut. Just how crazy has the band's rise been, though? Perhaps the best indicator is the band's return to the 2012 edition of SXSW this past March.
"That was crazy," Ray shared. "We played seven shows in two days. Last year we played none shows, bit that was over four days, so we got to relax and hang out a little bit. This year it all happened so fast -- we played our first show as a little radio showcase thing at 8am one morning and our last show was at 1pm the next day. It was all kind of a blur."
At the moment, the band is on a short, four week headlining tour that took them across the US to California, back across the country and through Tulsa on Monday before finishing up the run with a show in Washington DC on June 22 and an appearance at The Governor's Ball in NYC on June 23. The rest of the summer includes a short European tour and a series of festival appearances before heading back overseas to support fun. on that band's European tour.
Tulsa gets a quick preview of the band this Monday night, June 11, as the tour brings Walk the Moon to Tulsa for a show at Bob's with Morning Parade. Z104.5, The Edge, has jumped on board to sponsor this as one of its "Low Dough Shows". Tickets are only $12 in advance or $15 at the door for a cheap ticket and great way to kick off your summer with a band that looks to blow up before the end of the year. Catch them now, because they'll be playing much larger venues next time they come around.
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