Reporting Shannon Carlin
The guys of Capital Cities know how to write a catchy song, thanks to their years working as jingle writers.
The band comprised of Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, who are playing KROQ’s Weenie Roast this weekend, told Radio.com that writing music for commercials allowed them to work in a wide variety of genres and styles. They were also required to turn things around very quickly, which helped them hone their production skills.
Their latest single, “Safe and Sound,” was the first song the guys, who met through Craigslist, worked on together. They weren’t even a band yet, Simonian said, they were just playing around.
“The initial gut response for that song from our friends was that it was a hit,” he said. “We had all this confidence with the song, but we weren’t sure if we had dialed in the right production for it so we literally recorded eight or nine versions of that song.”
Thanks to a layer of horns and a bevy of synths, the song became a lot more dance-oriented and helped the guys hone their electro-pop sound.
“The goal at the end of the day,” Simonian said, “was to write a song about joy and optimism and just a feel-good happy song.”
“Safe and Sound” serves as the first single off the band’s debut, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery (out June 4), but we’re already anticipating which track the band may select as its follow-up. On “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” Andre 3000 drops verses alongside the band.
It’s Capital Cities’ manager, however, who gets the credit for the big-name guest star. Merchant said that they mentioned offhand that they wanted to have a hip-hop part on the song and wouldn’t it be cool if they got Andre on the track. Turns out their manager, who used to work with a lot of hip-hop artists, knew how to get in touch with the OutKast MC.
“He sent the track when it was almost completed to Andre and he loved it,” Merchant said.
Unfortunately they didn’t get to hang out with the Atlanta native, but they did get to chat with him. “We had a little back and forth over the phone,” Simonian said. “He’s a very cool guy.”
For their first Weenie Roast performance, the guys said people should expect to see a lot of strange dancing, as well as a lot of strangers dancing. Hence the name of their recent tour, Dancing With Strangers (also the theme of the “Safe and Sound” video).
“We can get silly sometimes in our chartreuse blazers and mediocre dance choreography,” Simonian said. “Overall, it’s going to be a joyous experience.”