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Capital Cities’ implants an ‘earworm’ with ‘Safe and Sound’
October 25, 2013

By MIKE CHAIKEN
EDITIONS EDITOR
The best way to describe Capital Cities’ hit single, “Safe and Sound,” is “earworm.”
Once you hear the track, and you can’t really miss it on the radio or on the video music channels, you can’t get it out of your head.
And the results are telling.
It sailed to No. 1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock list. And it also hit the top 15 in Billboard’s top 40 and AC charts.
“It’s an absolute great feeling (having all of this success),” said the band’s Sebu Simonian, who is one-half of the duo, the other half being Ryan Merchant. “We’ve been pushing ‘Safe and Sound’ for so long now,” said Sebu who was calling outside the band’s rehearsal space preparing for the band’s co-headlining tour with Fitz and the Tantrums (which comes to Connecticut Oct. 25).
And, it’s true that the push for “Safe and Sound” has been prolonged for Capital Cities.
Although “Safe and Sound” is blowing up across America now, the track was originally released independently on an EP the band issued in 2011.
The success of the track is especially satisfying, Sebu said, because the band finished its major label “In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery” earlier this year. And the track’s success has paved the way for the success of “A Tidal Wave of Mystery.” “We’re proud of it and happy we get to tour it,” said Sebu.
Asked what it was about “Safe and Sound” that Capital Cities refused to give up on it and kept pushing it, “I’m not exactly sure,” said Sebu. But the band watched the track slowly build up steam in the rest of the world. In fact, it was a radio station in Lima, Peru that first latched on to it. “It shot up the charts (in Peru).”
Listening to “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,” you can pick up on a variety of influences. There is a touch of 1980s synth pop. And there is a definite EDM feel to it.
Sebu said, “We draw from all over the place (in terms of musical influences).” The essential thing, though, is good songwriting, he said.
“So we draw from every decade from the 1960s to the British psychedelica of Pink Floyd and the Beatles to the funky elements of Stevie Wonder and the Bee Gees and disco.”
The band does like the 1980s but it is more about the songwriting of that decade and not so much the sound. So Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Madonna, and Michael Jackson also figure into the mélange of Capital Cities’ sound
In terms of its own songwriting, Sebu said Capital Cities likes to draw from “life experiences and the beauty the world has to offer.”
“When we set out to write lyrics,” said Sebu, “we strive to be poetic and be accessible and straightforward… We’re always trying to find the balance between catchy and accessible as well as depth and innovation.”
Capital Cities handled the production duties themselves on “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery.” Some bands like having a producer behind the board to provide an objective ear to the proceedings and serve as final arbiter in terms of what works and what doesn’t.
But Sebu said, “We trust our instincts.” Plus, he said, he’s no stranger to music production.He said he started producing other bands when he was 18 and has been doing it for the past 11 years.
“I’m pretty set in my ways,” said Sebu.
On record, Capital Cities is a duo. But for the co-headlining tour with Fitz and the Tantrums, Sebu said the group is expanding to a five piece with a live drummer rather than accompanying themselves only with an array of computerized instruments.
“We play our album,” said Sebu about the show, “and we add some covers, trying to make it a fun and exciting dance party… We get the audience involved, and invent dance moves… It’s just a fun time.”
Beyond the tour with Fitz and the Tantrums, Sebu said Capital Cities has nothing in particular in the works. But the band expects to continue to tour. And then eventually, Sebu said the band wants to find some down time to begin writing its follow-up.
Capital Cities and Fitz and the Tantrums bring The Bright Future Tours to the Dome at the Oakdale in Wallingford on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information, go to Oakdale.com or CapitalCitiesMusic.com