The ho-hum dreariness that accompanies the sunless days of December makes it easy to fall into a slump. Just before I trade in my jeans for sweatpants, and really give up until next year, here comes Capital Cities to the rescue. These boys are like sunny beach days filled with laughter, friends, and good times, all bottled up into one delightful, beard-adorned, shades-wearin’ package. They have an infectious groove that instantly makes your head start to bob, and your brain say, “Hey! Give me more!”
The band is composed of Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, two gentlemen with strong backgrounds in music who met through an ad on Cragislist (no, not that kind of ad!) Merchant needed a producer for some songs and ran across Simonian’s production services posting. One thing led to another, and here we are with a five song EP that will no doubt make you move your feet. Simonian was kind enough to let me pick his brain a little, and it is obvious how much he enjoys what he does.
TUBE: After the completion of the recent European tour, how does it feel being back in the states?
SEBU: Exciting. It has been a whirlwind. Soon after we got back, we played a bunch of shows in New York during CMJ. We’ve planned some west coast dates, including one coming up in Sacramento on December 21. Last but not least, we just signed a record deal with Capitol Records, so that has taken a lot of our focus.
TUBE: A lot has changed since one of your first shows outside of LA at SF’s Café Du Nord in June of 2011. Now you’ve played some festivals and seem to have quite a following. What do you attribute to this?
SEBU: Strong internet support. We connected with people who wrote about us and built relationships. Blogs and radio stations, big and small helped us spread the word organically. We also looked to our fans on facebook, twitter and bulletin boards to help us organize tours where we knew there would be a demand.
TUBE: With the EP in full release, and the amount of buzz online around the success of Safe and Sound, I imagine there’s an album in the works. Are you waiting on that as a way of testing the waters with the live shows and building a fan base to ensure the album is well received?
SEBU: Not purposely, but playing the songs live does help us test the effectiveness of the song structure. It also gives us a sense of what parts of the songs move people, and so we can then go back to the studio and focus on the parts that work and filter out the parts that don’t.
TUBE: With your past experience on the production side of commercial music field, how is it being on the other side and having more of a role in the heart of creating the tracks? Do you feel like both the teacher and the student?
SEBU: Writing for commercials has been surprisingly fulfilling for us as artists, because many of the jobs actually required us to be creative and edgy. Ad agencies nowadays pay close attention to the quality of the music and want it to be unique and special. We’ve been lucky to get gigs that challenged us to not only be creative but also quick.
TUBE: Both of you have been in bands previously. How is it different combining forces as Capital Cities?
SEBU: This is the first band I’ve been in that has two people with very similar roles. We both sing equally. The dual unison vocals is part of our signature. We both play keys, guitar and percussion. We both program beats. So it’s important to have chemistry. In addition, we’ve got a guitar player, bass player and trumpet player.
TUBE: The 80’s pop/electro influence is very apparent in your sound. Who is an influence that we
TUBE: If you could tour with one band or performer dead or alive who would it be and what venue would you choose?
SEBU: Royksopp / Hollywood Bowl
TUBE: Music seems to be turning a leaf and finally shedding its flannel and replacing it with…big blue shades. Is it true that girls (and boys) just want to have fun?
SEBU: Yes. It’s true. Cyndi’s been saying that for a while now.
TUBE: The original video for Safe and Sound is like a three-minute history lesson on the progression of enthusiastic dancing. Can we expect similar moves at your show on the 21st?
SEBU: You can expect a wide variety of moves. But please, judge us on effort, not grace. Better yet, bring your own moves. Audience participation is a must at our shows.
Make sure to check out Capital Cities on December 21th at Ace of Spades.
Words compliments of Jenny Price