Ex-jingle writers Capital Cities opening for Katy Perry in Tampa
BY ED CONDRAN
Capital Cities has come full circle. It’s apt that Mazda selected their 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. Home Depot, Coca Cola and Nike were some of their clients.
“We learned a lot about music production and writing while writing jingles,” Merchant said 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 said. “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 of the band’s debut album, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery.” The single was ubiquitous in autumn.
“It proved that we knew what we were doing when we decided to start a band and make ‘Safe and Sound’ the centerpiece,” Merchant said. “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, is embarking on a tour as the support act for Katy Perry, who will perform Monday at the Forum.
“We’re looking forward to going out with Katy,” Merchant said. “She’s amazing, and it will give us an opportunity to perform in front of enormous crowds. It’s going to be something special for us.”
It’s been a pretty quick ascent for Merchant and Simonian. Now their biggest hit is part of a prominent commercial. “The big difference between the Mazda spot and ones we did back in the day is that we’re getting paid a heck of a lot more for the Mazda commercial,” Merchant said.
Merchant is looking forward to writing and recording the second Cap Cities album, but that won’t happen until 2015.
“We’re booked solid until mid-December,” Merchant said. “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.”