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Capital Cities is finally ready to embrace long-awaited fame
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 16:12

There are some songs that come quickly, and others that are difficult, but worth the trouble. For Ryan Merchant of Capital Cities, his band’s hit “Safe and Sound” was the latter.

“‘Safe and Sound’ was a pain in the ass,” Merchant says via telephone from a show in Boston.

“We produced that song like eight times. From the very first time we produced it, it was a little snippet of music. It was a minute and a half piece of music that we wrote that had all the core melodic ideas. We put it on the backburner. We actually wrote it in 2010. It’s been around much longer than when we actually released it. It just it took a long time for us to get to where it is now, where we used analog Juno-106 Synthesizer; where we decided to use a trumpet. “

Merchant and his fellow frontman/Californian, Sebu Simonian, will perform songs from their debut full-length album “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery” during the True Music Festival on Saturday, December 14, at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

Merchant and Simonian formed Capital Cities after meeting on Craigslist and subsequently began writing jingles. Three years later, Capital Cities released a self-titled EP on its own label, Lazy Hooks. In 2012, the band signed with Capitol Records and “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery” debuted on June 4.

“‘Safe and Sound’ has been out two and a half years,” Merchant explains. “The main reason why it took so long is we were trying to figure out how to best release our music. So we were releasing EPs and covers and remixes before we released our official album. We wanted to be sure we had the proper marketing machine in place.”

Merchant thanks the Capitol Records team and independent publicists for aiding in the success of “Safe and Sound.”

“When it happened, we were ready for it to happen,” he says. “It’s very exciting to see something you knew was good [be successful]. We knew it was a special song, that it really could hold its own on radio. To have that gut feeling proven right is very satisfying.”

Now Capital Cities has moved on to the next single, “Kangaroo Court,” a video for which possesses star power in Darren Criss of “Glee,” Shannon Woodward and Channing Holmes.

Merchant explains he liked the outcome but the creation the music video, well... not so much. In it, he plays a zebra complete with prosthetics.

“You’re sitting there for 19 hours with prosthetics,” he says. “It’s very taxing, especially when you’re coming back from being on tour for two months straight. That part is hard but, that said, I love the fact when you shoot videos it’s an opportunity to try things that most humans don’t get to experience, like getting your face molded and wearing prosthetics.”

In the case of “Safe and Sound,” the duo took professional dance lessons.

“The woman we worked with was a very compassionate teacher who makes you feel really comfortable,” Merchant says. “When you have a teacher like that, it’s easy and it’s fun and you kind of break out of your shell and you’re not as self-conscious. Plus, it’s fun to learn new skills.”

Merchant hopes when fans hear the two singles—as well as the rest of the album—they enjoy it.

“I hope they enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoy listening to it,” he says. “This is the first body of work I’ve created where I actually listen to it and I’m very proud of it.”

CapitalCities, Flaming Lips, Wiz Khalifa, Bassnectar and Lord Huron headline the True Music Festival, Salt River Fields, 7555 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, truemusicfestival.com, ticketmaster.com, 800.745.3000, Saturday, Dec. 14, 11 a.m., $70 to $130