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Capital Cities enjoying pop stardom
11:57 AM, Nov. 1, 2013

Plenty of new music comes to radio every summer, but only a few tunes become hits, and fewer still are transformed into anthems.

For the band Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound” was the memorable song that shot them to stardom. It was difficult to turn on a radio and miss it. The follow-up “Kangaroo Court” is headed on that same road.

The band fronted by singers Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian - plays Nov. 5 at the Orange Peel on a co-headlining bill with Fitz and the Tantrums at the Orange Peel. Capital Cities is touring as a five-piece group.

For Merchant, it’s a return Asheville visit. He previously “hung out” here with friends and said he has a “soft spot in my heart” for North Carolina.

For fans in Asheville, it’s the first time to see Capital Cities live here. But this band has been all over the internet and the radio and the “Safe and Sound” video won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Visual Effects.

“It’s been very exciting” Merchant said of the group’s popularity. “Obviously, we were a little surprised at how far up the charts (“Safe and Sound”) has gone. At the same time, we were confident that it would do well and that we had something special.”

It was hardly overnight stardom. After meeting at the online site craigslist, Merchant and Simonian worked hard to build a following. “Safe and Sound” was first released online two and a half years ago, Merchant said. “Then on radio, it took a year for it to peak,” he said. “And it’s still going up the charts in some countries.” The YouTube video has had more than 35 million plays.

That’s led to big time media exposure including performances on TV’s “Ellen” talk show and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

“We are traveling pretty much non-stop,” Merchant said. “We’ve been touring since March and will be touring until December.” The live show is “high energy,” he said. “We move a lot. Everyone in the band is very dynamic. We like having a good time and making the audience feel uninhibited.”