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Capital Cities climbs from jingles to show headliners

Thursday October 30, 2014 9:28 AM

That you can hear the music of Capital Cities in several television advertisements makes perfect sense -- Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian came together initially to write jingles.

The pair eventually decided to give pop songwriting a go, a decision that was rewarded with the word-of-Internet success of the song Safe and Sound in 2011.

"It was very clear from the beginning that we had a seamless process of working together, tweaking each others' ideas to keep making them better," Merchant told The Beat.

"It's exciting to find someone who enhances your own creative process."

That process, Merchant explained, is not significantly different whether writing for an advertising project or a pop song. Writing for commercials, he said, offers some built-in parameters that can actually be beneficial to the creative process, while writing for Capital Cities allows for a more free-flowing approach.

"But whether we're writing songs for our own project or for a commercial, we experiment and experiment and experiment until something cool happens."

The band has a released new single, One Minute More, and is fresh off a summer tour with Katy Perry, so Merchant is feeling good about the group's fall headline tour.

"It's great to keep having new music out there, even though we haven't been able to do much writing when you're out on the road non-stop.

"And playing for new fans who aren't as familiar with our music sort of forced us to step up our game, to bring something extra to an audience that isn't there to see you. Once you do that, it can actually be a much lower stress level playing for your audience, people who know your songs."

The duo, plus a regular set of three musicians who fill out Capital Cities live, has been reworking some songs for the headlining tour, "tweaking" and "reinterpreting" existing CC material, as well as creating some fun moments and crowd interaction.

"Bringing songs from the studio to the stage, they can sometimes evolve in an interesting way. It's refreshing and fun for the audience.

"Sometimes the production is too elaborate to re-create on stage they way we'd want, so you need to reimagine, strip down and see how a song can evolve. It's just a matter of taking the time in rehearsals -- we've got three incredible musicians who play live with us."