Cage the Elephant's Brad Shultz Talks Religious Music, Coachella, and More

Categories: Interview
cage the elephant.jpg
Cage the Elephant

In 2009, it was nearly impossible to go a day without hearing "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by Kentucky band Cage the Elephant. It was featured on video game soundtracks, movie soundtracks, and it was on heavy rotation on many rock radio stations -- it's probably on the radio right now.

But Cage the Elephant isn't content to rest on its laurels. The band released a new album in January called Thank You Happy Birthday and will be doing some extensive touring to promote it. You can catch the band opening for the Black Keys on Thursday, April 14, at Mesa Amphitheatre. Well, as long as you've got tickets, that is. The show is sold out. But just in case you didn't get tickets, the band will be back in May when it headlines a show at Marquee Theatre with Manchester Orchestra.

Up on the Sun recently caught up with guitarist Brad Shultz to talk about how his religious upbringing influenced his music, working the band's latest record, and Coachella.

Up on the Sun: So you guys are getting ready to head out on a pretty lengthy tour?

Brad Shultz: Yeah, we're real excited. The Manchester [Orchestra] guys have always been really great friends of ours. We were both on the Silversun Pickups tour about two years ago, and they became really great friends of ours, and we're really excited to do a co-headlining tour with them.

UOTS: And you guys are also going opening up for the Black Keys on a few dates as well?

BS: Oh, yeah. We've been really blessed to be involved with bands that are not only amazing musically but are really good people, too.

UOTS: I read that you and your brother, Matt Shultz, weren't really allowed to listen to a lot of rock music growing up.

BS: A lot of what we were exposed to was Christian music and gospel, but there were times where our dad would dig into Tommy James and the Shondells and Herman's Hermits, also he would put on some Joe Cocker. Every once in a while, he'd put on some Led Zeppelin. But, yeah, it was pretty limited when we were kids. When I was 12 or 13, I would actually start sneaking music like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, shit like that. I actually had a Jimi Hendrix cassette tape, and my dad would find it and take it away from me, and then I'd steal it back from him.

UOTS: Do you find it all a little ironic that with that kind of upbringing, you've grown up to be rock stars?

BS: Not really, because my dad played music. He was into rock 'n' roll, but he just didn't want us exposed to a lot of the lyrical content, I guess. He would try and find Christian bands that were rock 'n' roll bands. I think it's just [that] we were drawn toward that kind of thing, and I think it kind of ended up helping us, as far as we didn't get exposed to a lot of stuff. So, as we grew older and exposing ourselves to it and hearing about bands through different people, we got the opportunity to get excited about that music and really dig deep into it. When you listen to music when you're a kid, you just like it because it's ear candy -- it's pleasing to your ear. You don't really know what's really happening to sonically make that happen.

UOTS: With the band's first album being such a big hit, did you guys feel any pressure when recording the follow-up?

BS: More pressure was put on by ourselves. At first, we went through this whole thing of what Cage the Elephant is. We started writing a bunch of songs. We were almost catering towards what we thought Cage the Elephant was as a band and stylistically what our music should sound like. Then, as time went on, we'd write these songs on the side and we'd go, "Well that doesn't sound like a Cage the Elephant song." It was like something I would do on a side project or something.

As time went on, more and more of the songs for the supposed side project were songs we were in love with. So we kind of went through this whole thing where Cage the Elephant is whatever we like. So we kind of dropped that whole approach of trying to write or cater what we thought we should be and we just started writing songs. It was a good growing process for us. It was a big realization of we are whatever we create. It's not like we have to write in a certain box.

UOTS: Do you guys have any plans for once the tour wraps up?

BS: I think we're just going to be touring. We've have festivals we're doing. We have Coachella. We're doing a couple other U.S. festivals, then we're doing Reading and Leeds in the U.K. We're doing a few European festivals. We're also -- I think -- in September, we're going to go back in the studio and start on the third album.

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