Capital Cities Hits Big With ‘Safe’

By Kelli Skye Fadroski
The Orange County Register
Thursday, June 6, 2013
(Published in print: Thursday, June 6, 2013)

It’s been hard to get away from Capital Cities’ hit song Safe and Sound. Even if the title doesn’t ring a bell, chances are you’ve heard it.

The track has enjoyed heavy play on mainstream radio, which landed the catchy, dance-infused tune on the Top 10 modern rock charts. Snippets of it also turned up in television commercials, radio campaigns and during sporting events. Such visibility is something most artists dream of, yet the overexposure makes Capital Cities’ Sebu Simonian almost as nervous as he is grateful.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” he shared during a recent phone interview after the duo’s set at radio station KROQ-FM’s annual Weenie Roast at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, Calif., last month. “I worry that people are going to get sick of it pretty soon. A lot of big songs experience that, but I hope people don’t get annoyed by it.”

Three years ago Simonian, then working as a producer in Los Angeles, placed an ad on Craigslist, soliciting for new talent. He received only one response, from fellow producer/musician Ryan Merchant. The two hit it off instantly, Simonian says, and immediately collaborated on a variety of projects until the pair decided to start their own band.

Capital Cities self-released an EP in 2011 and hit the club scene fast and hard, quickly gaining attention with high-energy sets and bouncy, feel-good tunes. Eventually securing representation, the guys signed on with Capitol Records, in a partnership with Lazy Hooks, to officially issue its full-length debut In a Tidal Wave of Mystery (out this week), culling together all the material Capital Cities has created since forming.

For the new disc, Capital Cities got the chance to work with OutKast’s Andre 3000 on the track Farrah Fawcett Hair, though they’re already eyeing other endeavors. As they’ve crossed paths on tour and at festivals with artists like fellow L.A. outfit Fitz and the Tantrums, Atlas Genius, the Neighbourhood and Awolnation, the guys have been thinking about a variety of collaborative possibilities. Given how the duo’s music samples numerous genres, Simonian says future experimentation could be limitless.

“We like to keep things open,” he says, noting that in the past “we’ve worked as commercial music composers. and we’ve had to write music in hip-hop, disco, punk, metal and pop — and there were a lot of fast turn-around times to it. It excites us to be flexible, diverse and eclectic. That’s key for us fundamentally. We write dance music that’s interesting.”

With the new album about to be available to the masses, an optimistic Simonian hopes people will soon hear more than just “Safe and Sound” before fatigue sets in.

“I just hope it brings some joy to people’s day,” he says of his group’s breakout track, “and puts a big smile on their faces.”