Interview - Me and Cage The Elephant

For a bunch of young, excitable kids with guitars to be so friendly is a novelty in London’s gig scene. Gigwise aren’t sure why, but more often than not we’re welcomed by snotty brats who are pissed they missed out on going to Brit School, and who already believe themselves to be the second coming of The Beatles or perhaps even Jesus himself. However, these five childhood friends known as Cage The Elephant have no such attitude problems. In fact, so blasé are they about their accomplishments that Gigwise begins to think that they really wouldn’t care if they did have to welcome Jesus Part Deux into their ranks. Strangely, our predictions ring true during a bizarre evening spent in their company backstage at one of their many London gigs, as Gigwise gets an update on the journey that has led them from their hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky to supporting their idols Queens Of The Stone Age on a recent Canadian tour.

Drummer Jared Champion and bassist Titch (real name Daniel Tichenor, it’s funny because he’s actually quite tall, HA!) are good enough to lend us their time as the others run around entertaining themselves with whatever they can get their hands on. “Can we please be aware of the new, expensive drum kit,” one voice of reason advises as rhythm guitarist Brad Shultz hurtles up and down the room not in control of the skateboard beneath him, while lead singer Matt Shultz and lead guitarist Lincoln Parish help themselves to the beer which they’re not entirely sure is for them. Jared ignores these scenes as he discusses the way the band still manage to get on despite living in each other’s pockets, “We’ve all known each other 10 years or more, some of our Dad’s used to be in bands together in the same town, and Titch, Mat and Brad were all at High School together, so if there’s ever an argument we get over it by the next day.” These strong relationships seem necessary considering the band are all currently hidden away in a flat in Leytonstone. “It’s surprising how much noise you can make with an acoustic guitar,” says Titch without any hint of guilt, “Its not the nicest area and the neighbours get pretty annoyed but we get a lot of jamming done, and its cool being together.”

It’s this sense of camaraderie that seems to lurk at the heart of Cage The Elephant’s appeal. From their live show it is immediately obvious how well they know each other musically, which in turn allows things to get a little chaotic. “In our home town we used to play this bagel shop, with 200 kids jammed in with bagels everywhere. The smaller shows are the fun ones because they can always get a little crazy,” explains Titch. There’s also the small issue of their recent tour with QOTSA and dates at Lollapalooza festival, two events the band admit are some of their highlights so far. “Meeting Josh Homme was a dream,” boasts Jared with eyes slightly glazed over, “And the Lollapalooza shows were a lot of fun, the crowds were wild!” During the recent run of gigs here in the U.K however, the wild crowds have been replaced by London’s music biz folk, out in force to assess the future path for the band. “We don’t really mind to be honest. I mean, I’m sure it’ll change fairly soon and it’s to be expected considering we haven’t even released a CD here yet.”

Which of course they haven’t, but that’s all set to change in the coming months. They seem to be very aware of transferring such a vibrant live sound into a recorded version. “We loved being in the studio, we actually did a thing for XFM in the last few days and it sounded great. We don’t get a lot of time to rehearse anymore though, like, we used to just jam in my basement, but now we gotta book everything in and be scheduled. But our live sound does translate well, and it gives people the chance to listen to our stuff properly. When you see us live, you’re so caught up in the show that it’s hard to take everything in, but on record you can hear the details to the music.” This is certainly a theme that front man and lyricist Matt has explored in his lyrics. Lines such as “If they listened to the words they’d find the message that’s beneath, But it goes in one ear, and right out the other,” from the likely future single ‘In One Ear’ indicates that they truly believe they have more to offer than your average ‘next big thing’ band. “We generally don’t care what people think, they can say what they want,” states Titch very genuinely, “We all know there’s a lot of bands out there and we’re just one of them, we just wanna play well and get people to dance. Our sounds evolving all the time and we love the newer stuff we’ve been doing, so it’s all about not caring.”

As our time together draws to a close the long wait backstage is livened up by the arrival of a friend from their hometown, who has returned from backpacking in Morocco looking so much like Jesus it’s actually rather disturbing. Amidst the jokes and tear inducing laughter, it’s immediately obvious that this small group of people are having the time of their lives, but where’s it all going to lead? “I just wanna be busy, three albums in three years would be ideal, and if we can make a little money too…..” says Titch until Jared intervenes, “Yeah, I want the arena’s!” Well, whatever path they end up taking, Gigwise are sure they’re going to have a lot of fun along the way. If you’d like a piece of it yourself catch them throughout February and March in London. Arrive sporting a beard and a cloak for reduced entry.

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