Q&A With Matt Shultz, Lead Singer of Cage the Elephant; Playing Culture Room Saturday
Photograph taken by Danny Clinch
Cage the Elephant's self-titled debut album has held steady on the Billboard 200 chart for 52 consecutive weeks already, and their first single "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" has a catchy chorus that talks about societal flaws while still showing off their youthful energy. With a sophomore album slated for release later this year, their lead singer, Matt Shultz, spoke with the New Times recently on band changes, what he has in store for Saturday's show, and his love of couch diving.
Cage the Elephant, with Morning Teleportation and AutoVaughn. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14.99 on ticketmaster.com
New Times: Do you have any surprises planned for your show at the Culture Room on Saturday? Will you be playing anything off of your new, not yet released album?
Matt Shultz: Not really, we don't try to plan. We like that mysterious spontaneity [laughs]. We're playing probably about five or six songs off of our new album.
I saw that you're going to be playing guitar on the next album also?
Well I play guitar in some of the other songs now, I just never do on stage.
Are you gonna plan on playing guitar on stage for this show?
No, probably not.
Is there any reason why you don't?
I dunno, I just never really have, really. It's not something I've ever done. But you never know. Maybe I'll play the ukulele. I'll play the ukulele then I'll smash it on stage and light it on fire [laughs].
I'm sure they'd love that.
That'd be great.
Saw that you were originally called Perfect Confusion. Why the name change?
Because it's a terrible name [laughs]. No, it is a terrible name, but two of the guys that were in that band left to pursue school more heavily, so when Dan and Lincoln joined we were a different band, so we decided to change the name.
And I read somewhere that you named the band Cage the Elephant because of a game you played on a cereal box?
It was actually a Cracker Jack box. You know those little like silver balls and you have to roll them around 'til they fall in all of those pockets and make a picture or whatever? It was one of those things and you had to cage the elephant and you had to make the cage with the balls, so that's where the name came from. It's kind of messed up that that was in a Cracker Jack box. Cage the elephant, put the animal behind bars!
I heard you were unexposed to rock music until you were in your teens?
Well yeah, I'd heard some stuff here and there and snuck around to a friend's and listened to the Nirvana record and Green Day.
What do you mean you had to sneak around? Like you couldn't listen to it in the house?
Our parents didn't really allow it in the house. They were trying to shelter us from that world as long as they possibly could. It was actually more around when I was 15 and my parents got divorced that I kinda started buying records and bringing them to the house and stuff.
So then what was the first band or musician that really stuck with you when you first started to get into music?
First record that I bought I had just gotten my first paycheck from CiCi's Pizza, and me and Brad were pumped. We went out and bought Jimi Hendrix's Live at Woodstock. It was the best album we could ever buy.
Are you listening to any bands that've come out recently?
Morning Teleportation, Screaming Tea Party, Let's Wrestle, Vivian Girls. Surfer Blood, I like that band.
They're actually from Florida.
Oh really? Awesome. Really? Maybe we'll see them at the show.
You're actually just going to miss them, they're coming to Florida for a show in Miami in June.
Aww, man. Maybe our paths will cross in time in the future.
Are you going to do anything else out of the ordinary?
No, we really try not to think about what we're gonna do. Our shows and stuff we keep them as random as possible.
Yeah, I noticed that. Saw some videos of your performances online that were uploaded to YouTube. You're really spontaneous.
I think there's a certain beauty in that, in the unplanned. Things that happen at the spur of the moment. I feel like we need to be either really stupid or amazing, or maybe both at the same time.
Are there any bands in particular that you'd like to tour with, if given the opportunity?
Yeah, a lot. The Pixies are always at the top of my list. The Stooges.
You know Iggy Pop from the Stooges lives in Florida, right?
Yeah, I heard that. In Miami, right? Maybe I'll find his house and camp out in his lawn until he comes out and talks to me. He's probably one of the most influential people for our band, for sure.
What other bands would you say have been influential to your style, if you had to pick only a few?
Mud Honey, The Pixies, The Stooges... Gosh, so many. Anything that we like fall in love with becomes part of us and has a direct affect in our music.
Are you guys still based in Bowling Green, Kentucky?
No, I mean me and Brad are from Bowling Green, but most of the guys live in Nashville now. But I dunno if we feel like we're really based out of anywhere, since we've moved around so much. Like in the past 3 or 4 years. We lived in London for 2 years, that's kind of where we started out. We are always on the road, so we spend far less time at home.
So pretty much you're citizens of the world.
I like to couch dive. If you have a couch I'll sleep on it. You should invite me. Maybe you should all invite me. I'll have a show there.
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