Capital Cities has come a long way since its jingle days

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2014 12:15 am | Updated: 12:11 pm, Thu Oct 23, 2014.
By Ed Condran Correspondent

Capital Cities has come full circle. It’s apt that Mazda selected the band’s breakout hit “Safe and Sound” as the bed for its latest commercial since Capital Cities vocalists Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian wrote jingles together before they ever crafted songs.

The duo made music for commercial and advertising campaigns. The Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Nike were some of their clients.

“We learned a lot about music production and writing while writing jingles,” Merchant says while calling from Los Angeles. “We learned how to write catchy songs.”

About a year after meeting in 2009, the tandem wrote “Safe and Sound.”

“We started working on our own stuff on the side,” Merchant says. “When we wrote ‘Safe and Sound,’ we realized that we had something. It was just a matter of how we would fill in the gaps.”

Merchant added trumpet courtesy of Spencer Ludwig’s horn, and the song was the initial single off the band’s debut album, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery.”

The single was ubiquitous this time last year.

“It proved that we knew what we were doing when we decided to start a band and make ‘Safe and Sound’ the centerpiece,” Merchant says. “It’s taken off. It’s number one in so many places around the world, like in Germany and Mexico and in South America. We’re blown away how popular we are in Central and South America. I’m just glad we decided to take that extra step. We could have stayed jingle writers. But what I tell most fledgling recording artists is to throw whatever they have against the wall and just go for it.

“Something might stick. Look at us. We went from obscure jingle writers to major-label artists in a very short period of time.”

Capital Cities, which is signed to Capitol Records, opened for Fitz & the Tantrums at the Electric Factory last November.
“Now we’re headlining the Electric Factory and it’s just amazing,” Merchant says of this Sunday’s show. “That show in Philly last year was great. The crowd was really into what we’re doing. I love that we’re headlining there this time.”

The act recently finished off a tour opening for Katy Perry, which stopped in August at the Wells Fargo Center.

“Her fans were so open to what we do,” Merchant says. “The response was tremendous and the exposure was incredible. We got to play in front of some enormous crowds.” It’s been a pretty quick ascent for Merchant and Simonian. Merchant is looking forward to writing and recording a second Cap Cities album, but that won’t happen until 2015.

“We’re booked solid until mid-December,” he says. “It’s a great situation to be in. We’re still working this album. It’s been an amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Writing songs certainly beats writing jingles.”