Interview: Cage The Elephant

Blog-favourite Kentucky indie rock band Cage The Elephant speak to IMPACT Music about festivals, producers, and their fourth LP Tell Me I’m Pretty

The new album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, was produced by Dan Auberbach from the Black Keys. What was his influence on it?

We met Dan when we were touring with the Black Keys and we became friends. Jay (Joyce) who produced our other albums couldn’t produce this one so we were looking for someone and we had the same manager, they had just finished touring and their studio is in Nashville so we could stay home recording it.

This new album seems to have a darker style, especially on songs such as ‘Cold Cold Cold’ and ‘Sweetie Little Jean’

Yeah that was just our changing style and Dan’s imprint. Some people have said Dan had too much of a stamp on it. I mean on certain songs you can hear a bit of Black keys on there.

Such as ‘Mess around’?

Yeah, he recorded the solo and it has that high pitched sound in the background but that just came out through us. They’re our songs, we wrote them before we went to the studio.

There was a distinct change in style going into Melophobia did that happen consciously?

It just comes from us growing up as individuals and maturing, different influences throughout the years rather than sticking to the same sound. A lot of people want a band to recreate their biggest hit or their sound; that’s not who people are, people are constantly changing, any band that does that probably doesn’t want to.

Your most popular song has to be ‘ain’t no rest for the wicked’ does this begin to carry a negative tag, as it’s often the song people are waiting for?

For me it’s positive, I still like the track and obviously a lot of other people do too as they bought the track. It’s just for a lot of people we’re that ‘ain’t no rest for the wicked band’ which kind of sucks because they don’t look into our music catalogue any further than what they hear on their radio. I think we would have been successful without it but it helped us get where we are, but that was our style and feelings when we were 20, that’s 12 years ago now.

There’s a mention on ‘Trouble’ of ‘ain’t no rest for the wicked’ is that an intentional self-reference?

Yeah, Matt put that in there as a nod to it, as we still recognise what it’s done for us.

Did you intentionally make your live shows so raucous or was it a reaction to the fans?

A lot of that was Matt, as a drummer if I go crowd surfing everyone stops dancing, when we first started out it was almost a nervous thing to get people to engage with us. We were often performing to like 10 people and no one knew our songs, so if we ran out there and went crazy the crowd loved it.

Is there any particular live performance you find memorable?

There’s a couple that are legendary in our books Lollapalooza in ’08 or ’10. It tends to be festival sets because it’s a different vibe, people have been to see a few sets during the day and are in the mood rather than at a gig like this where people have come from work.

Any memorable performances in Britain?

Bestival, we played at this stage at the bottom of a hill and at the top of the hill were loads of portaloos and it was raining really hard and they wanted to shut us down. Matt was sliding around in all the mud and they shut us down after 30 minutes and afterwards all we could smell was shit and they told us the portaloos had leaked down the hill and Matt was covered in shit.

What’s next for Cage the Elephant?

We’ve got an arena tour with Foals back over in America in spring; we tour with Foals quite a bit actually. The first tour we did in England as an actual band was with Foals, we were doing these size venues about 7 years ago, so for them to be selling out venues like the (London) Astoria in front of 10,000 people is great and then they’ll tour with us in America were we’re bigger, we’ve developed a friendship with them.

Cage The Elephant’s Drummer Jared was speaking to Jack Smiddy

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Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham's IMPACT Magazine.

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