Sunday, April 17, 2011

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Draw in the Crowd


Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros used that magic magnetic energy to pull the crowd in Saturday night at Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring. The ten-piece family style band had the audience singing and dancing the night away within a matter of seconds. Performing songs from their album, “Up from Below,” and closing their set with the hit single, “Home,” they let their positive energy fly all over the place and fill their audience with sheer ecstasy. The euphoric atmosphere they create while on stage is something you truly have to experience in order to get the full effect.

After their show was over I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go backstage and meet Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos who both perform vocals and guitar for the band as well as various other instruments. I have to say, they both exceeded my expectations by being so humble and kind. Alex was laid-back and easy to talk to and Jade was beyond delightful.

Once backstage and after meeting Alex and Jade, Alex patiently let me ask him several questions about this magnetic band he created.

Your Railroad Revival tour is happening this week, how did you all decide to collaborate with Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford and Sons?
It just kind of came about. I think it just seemed like a natural fit. We befriended the Mumford dudes because we were at Lollapalooza and then in Telluride together and Old Crow Medicine Show played before us at either Bonnaroo or in Australia…I can’t remember. After shows we would just hangout and talk and that’s sort-of how it came about.

I read that on your solo album Alexander (released March 1, 2011), you not only did the vocals, but you performed all instruments and then mixed and mastered most of the album. How was that process and how was it doing it on your own?
That was tough man, but it was really worth it and really rewarding to work hard on something.

Jade in the background says, “He’s a genius a total genius.”

Is there a song on that album that you feel most connected with or most proud of?
So many of them, I really like the whole album. The one that sticks out and is special in a different way to me is “Truth,” it’s one of the first songs I did for the album and it’s also sort of what started the whole thing. It allowed me to embrace some of the hip-hop sort of stuff, which was basically all I listened to from the age of seven up until I was seventeen. Not that it’s a rap song, but it was just fun to be able to do that.

What can we expect from the next Edward Sharpe album you are currently recording? Any idea when the album will be finished?
You know I am not sure yet. We will have a much better idea at the end of May.

You all have performed at various music venues and festivals all over, but I’m curious about your experience performing at Bonnaroo last year. What was the high-light of being there for you?
Well the show itself and then there was the heat…man the heat. It was just a great fucking show you know; there was a lot of energy in that show. Really, it was just an amazing moment for us in a way.

Last year at Bonnaroo the band was still really new and in a way you were the unexpected gem. How did you feel about the accolades you received from that show?
It felt great. What I was most surprised to hear was there were a lot of people that couldn’t get into the tent because the tent was so full. That was an awesome time and we are looking forward to having our new album and having new songs to play and be able to expose people again. That show at Bonnaroo was a lot of people seeing us for the first time and in some ways when you do new material it’s a similar thing so it’s going to be fun to do that.

It’s pretty apparent that you have some very enthusiastic fans that really admire what you do. What do you get back from your fans?
I mean they give it back to us every time we play. The support and the energy they give us is often times equal and sometimes it’s more than the energy we give... It’s always a near 50/50 thing ideally.  We really appreciate the openness of heart and the exuberance to cheer us on and to lift us up so we can lift them up and vice versa.

Is there any type of ritual/routine you all have while you are out on the road to help unify the band and pull you all together?
Yeah, we huddle up before every show. It’s nice to get in a huddle and let go of any sort of noises or fears and just get really pumped up.

How does it feel to have your songs “Home” and “Janglin” now being used in movies, TV shows and commercials?
Well, it’s an interesting time. Some commercials we say no to because it just doesn’t feel right. There was a commercial offering almost half-a-million dollars recently and they wanted to use “Om Nashi Me,” a song of ours that’s really special to us. To me, the campaign has questionable ethics, "It’s one of those classic it touches your heart strings to sell a product type thing." You know what I mean? It just wasn’t something we wanted to do. When we did the “Janglin” thing for the Ford commercial I had asked to see the commercial first. That was a very fun commercial, it involved basically just street movement… a lot of people doing tricks on buildings and shit.  Yes it’s a fucking commercial for a car, but it’s a celebratory commercial. There’s just a lot to consider and it’s not like once we open the door to those things we will take anything that comes our way. We take it a piece at a time. There are ten of us and we all split the money equally. In order to go out on the road all the time and live comfortably in a place like Los Angeles, you do feel sort of compelled to at least consider the options.

On the positive side when you look at it from a distance it’s nice that our songs are getting out there and that people are hearing them.  I think it really is a good thing on a lot of levels…sometimes it’s a terrible idea, but sometimes it’s a great idea. You just have to always feel it out.

Tell me a little about your 12-part musical. Any idea how long it will take you to get all 12 pieces of the musical out?
The thing is, in order to really get the rest done we would have to shoot them all at once because otherwise doing it all homegrown is a pretty massive fucking undertaking so I hope that we get that done at some point. If not, I’d like to at least present the story and write it because I think it’s an important story that doesn’t get told a lot. It takes the hero story and turns it on it’s head and inverts it in a way. So I’m excited to tell the rest of it.

Have you seen the youtube video of the father and daughter (Jorge and Alexa Narvaez) singing your song “Home” together? What do you think about the video?
The cool thing to me is that it’s just a father and daughter singing the song, “Home.” What’s special about it is how simple and how pure it is. I believe those qualities are why it was responded to so heavily. It makes me really happy. When Jade and I wrote that song we weren’t dating or anything like that so it was a real song and we were just in love as human beings. So it’s really good to me to see a rendition of the song between a father and daughter because the song is really about the sustained unconditional greater feeling of being home with someone. 

*If you haven't seen the youtube video mentioned above here is the link:

Now that I have met Alex and Jade I can honestly say, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are more than just talented musicians, they are good people filling this world with good vibes through their gift of song. For more on the band check out their web-site:

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