Q&A with Cage the Elephant

Aug 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm

The inaugural Kanrocksas Music Festival took over Kansas City's Kansas Speedway last weekend, with headlining performances by Eminem, Muse, The Black Keys and many others. Impressive and well-organized in its debut year, the festival is being called a mini-Lollapalooza, as many of the same bands performed as they made their way to and from the Chicago fest (held the same weekend). Along with Eminem's epic performance, Bowling Green, Ky., AltRock sensation Cage the Elephant was an energetic highlight. The band's current tour in support of Thank You Happy Birthday (featuring the hit "Shake Me Down"), kicked off in Cincinnati in March when CtE also became part of Cincinnati Reds history, leading fans through the first "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" of the season on opening day. CityBeat sat down with lead guitarist Lincoln Parish and rhythm guitarist Brad Schultz (pictured) before they took Kansrocksas' stage to talk about that Cincinnati visit and more.—-

CityBeat: You had a big day in Cincinnati back in March when you came through and played Bogart's and sang at the Reds' opening day. How was that experience for you?

Lincoln Parish: It was definitely interesting. When we got up and it was time for us to do it, they were like, “The keyboard is going to come in and then you guys start.” Then they said, “No, the keyboard is not going to come in so you guys just start it.” Then they came back and said something totally different.

Brad Schultz: Then right before we went on they were like, “The keyboard is definitely going to start.”

CB: It was “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” right?

LP: The keyboard starts and goes through once and then there is silence and feedback.

BS: There is a build-up of “Da-duh-da-duh … RRRRRRRRRRRRR,” like a little feedback.

LP: Then Jared (Champion, Cage's drummer) starts out (singing really deep), “Take me out to the ballgame!”

BS: Then we all staggerdly fell in.

LP: When we came back through the stands afterward … this dude was like, “Keep practicing!” and a guy behind him said, “It ain’t gotta be perfect!”

CB: So you had a show at Bogarts that night, did you guys have any fun, memorable experiences that day?

BS: We have actually played Bogart’s a few times now. We played with Silversun Pickups and played it a few months back. Cincinnati is always a fun city. The crowds always seem like they go for it from the first beat of the song.

CB: I’ve photographed you guys three or four times this year and Matt (Shultz, lead singer) always does crazy shit. He jumped off the soundboard at the Voodoo fest in New Orleans and he almost took my head off jumping into the crowd at the Beale Street Music Festival. Do you guys ever get worried he is going to hurt himself?

LP: He already has hurt himself.

BS: The only time I was like “Oh crap!” was at the Vic in Chicago. He climbed probably 15 or 20 feet. His head was at the second balcony and he dove off from there.

BS: Sometimes we’ll go off stage and we don’t even know he’s even up there jumping off.

LP: Sometimes I don’t even see him, we’ll hear about it afterwards.

BS: Most of the time you will know. We get off stage. We are all chilling and you hear everybody in the crowd go “AHHHHHHHHH” … you know Matt just jumped.

CB: He said he hadn’t got hurt recently.

BS: Yeah. I don’t know, he has something going on with his knee right now. He has like a torn meniscus.

CB: So you guys have a big weekend. You have Kansrocksas, then you have Lollapalooza tomorrow.

BS: Yeah. Then, we’re going to L.A. to do the Jay Leno show.

CB: Do you guys ever get nervous in front of these 60,000-100,000-person crowds?

LP: The only time I remember that I got really nervous was the first time doing Letterman.

CB: TV makes you more nervous than 100,000 live people?

LP: Yeah. TV is kind of nerve-racking.

BS: It feels like you are under a microscope.

LP: There is this big build-up then you are just out there playing it, and then it’s done. It’s weird.

BS: I usually get nervous before every show, but it’s usually a good nervousness.

CB: It’s like good adrenaline.

BS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. To tell you the truth, some of the smaller shows are more nerve-racking than the big ones. We just recently just played Tidball’s in our hometown …

CB: I saw you guys played Bowling Green recently and you said on your website that you were going to do another one because it sold out so fast.

BS: We’re going to do another one sometime in the fall and winter.

CB: You were nervous for that because it was your hometown, people know you there?

BS: Yeah. Plus, there is a really good music scene in Bowling Green. There is a band called Morning Teleportation, I think they have played Bogarts before. They did the David Letterman show. They did an album with Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. And there is another band called Sleeper Agent. This week they are iTunes' single of the week. They have been getting on the Top 40 countdown on (satellite radio channel) Alt Nation. I think they have a top 40 single. Then there is another band called Schools. All those bands were just mentioned in Rolling Stone, too.

CB: So did you play with any of those band when you were there?

BS: We played with Schools and Sleeper Agent. I don’t know, we just want to help nurture what is going on in Bowling Green right now.

CB: It’s really close to Nashville, but there is a different kind of vibe or feel to the music there.

BS: I think what kind of makes Bowling Green special is that people don’t feel like they have to live up to a certain scene. There is not like a Indie music scene or a Punk scene or whatever scene. People make music and whatever it is, it is.

CB: You guys live in Nashville now, right?

BS: Three of us do — me, Lincoln (and) Tichenor. Matt and Jared still live in Bowling Green.

CB: When I talked to you last, the album had not come out, just the single, but you were playing a little bit of it. Are you playing from it today at the festival or are we going to hear old and new music.

LP: We are actually going to play from our third album only.

CB: Thank You Happy Birthday?

LP: No, this is our fifth album. We are going to play the third one.

CB: I thought you only had two. I thought Thank You Happy Birthday was the second?

LP: No, we are just kidding, we only have two albums, but we should make a prequel album. I don’t think any band has ever done that, have they? Can you make an album of what it would have been before you made the album? Like super-dumb it down.

CB: I have been talking to bands recently that are on their 15th album. Wehn you are on your 15th, I’ll be old and grey. I’ll be sitting here and you’ll go, “We are playing from our third album today."

LP: I’ll probably just be bald.

BS: Not by choice.

LP: Not by choice. It won’t be a shaved look.

CB: Do you ever get starstruck?

BS: We just saw Paul McCartney backstage at Coachella. He was eating a cheeseburger and Matt decided he was going to go talk to him.

LP: I thought he was a vegan or something.

BS: I guess not.

CB: Maybe it was a veggie burger. I’m sure if Paul wanted a veggie burger, they probably brought him one.

BS: But it was a burger of some sort. Anyways, Matt said he was going to go talk to him. I’m like, “No, I’m not going to do that.” I don’t know, there have been a few people I have been too nervous to meet. He is one of them and Iggy Pop was one of them but Matt went over and said hello.