Meet the Band: Cage the Elephant

MEET THE BAND: Matthew Shultz (vocals), Brad Shultz (guitars), Jared Champion (drums), Daniel Tichenor (bass)

Kentucky Thunder: The band initially came together in Bowling Green, Kentucky, when members were still in high school. "Naturally, as most high school bands do, we broke up," says Matthew Shultz in a phone interview. "[Guitarist] Brad [Schultz], my brother, joined the second incarnation of my high school band and we had that band from the time we graduated and into our early college years." The group then morphed into Cage the Elephant in 2006; it cut its musical teeth at a DIY place called the Pirate House that Shultz describes as "this old fraternity house and it was condemned and scheduled to be torn down." "All of our friends would squat there and we would have house shows and bands would stay there," he recalls.

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: On past tours with the garage duo the Black Keys, the band became friends with Keys' singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach. "We both had it in our minds that we could work with each other," says Shultz. "On a day off, we went to his hotel room and told him about some of the ideas we were working on and the new artists, and it clicked and made sense." While recording the songs for what would become Tell Me I'm Pretty, Auerbach would bring "really obscure weird music" into the studio to inspire the band. "Once we all started to vibe out on [the music], our mind would leave where it currently was," says Shultz. "Then, he'd have us go cut the song. Whether it directly changed anything I don't know, but it directly changed the spirit of the recording."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: On Tell Me I'm Pretty, the band expands its garage rock sound to incorporate elements of psychedelic rock and blues. Album opener "Cry Baby" features crooning vocals and sounds like something from the '60s. the same goes for the careening "Mess Around," a song that features a vintage electric guitar riff and nasally vocals. "With each record, we try to leave enough elasticity to surprise ourselves," says Shultz. "You want to be an accumulation of all the things you've learned over the years. We'll continue to apply those learnings and push ourselves to learn more. When it comes to growth, I never looked it as a straight line. I looked at it more like a tree or plant. You grow in various directions, and there's still room to grow."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Cage the Elephant performs with Portugal.The Man and Twin Peaks at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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