- Brian Ziff
- Space-age restart: “We’re never going to regret that song.”
All that followed a period of traumatic uncertainty that began in the summer of 2016, when the group canceled a tour so that frontman Nicholas Petricca could be with his father, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The unplanned stoppage could hardly have come at a worse time career-wise. A year earlier, the single “Shut Up and Dance,” from the band’s second album Talking Is Hard, had spent seven weeks in the Top 5 and was well on its way to becoming a triple-platinum hit. Pulling the plug on the tour, as necessary as it was, meant the band wouldn’t be able to build on the momentum that had been generated by their breakout hit.
“For me personally, it was a strain,” recalls bassist Kevin Ray, “because I saw how what we had built with ‘Shut Up and Dance’ was just sort of lingering in limbo.” What had begun as a canceled tour soon led to an extended silence, as Petricca dealt with the passing of his father while the rest of the group — which also includes guitarist Eli Maiman and drummer Sean Waugaman — came to terms with their own priorities and motivations moving forward.
“I think trust is a big part of it,” says Ray of the resulting dialogue, “trust that each member of the group is focused on making the same thing for the same reasons, or at least the right thing for the right reasons.”
While the Cincinnati band had been together since 2006, they didn’t begin making a name for themselves until 2012, when their self-titled major label debut spawned the Top 10 alternative-rock hit “Anna Sun.” The subsequent “Shut Up and Dance” conveyed the image of a band that was all light and sweet, even though tracks like “Up 2 U,” “Spend Your $$$” and “Different Colors” went considerably deeper.
With Walk The Moon, Walk The Moon wanted to show they were about more than just carefree pop songs. “We’re never going to regret that song in any way, and we’re never going to be upset about what it did for us,” says Ray. “But I think with any band that has a song that kind of blows up like that, it’s going to define a lot about you. I don’t hate that at all, but it definitely gives people the opportunity to ignore the deeper, darker sides of a group. So with this record, we wanted to highlight that vibe.”
Despite all that, the band hasn’t lost its knack for high-octane pop hooks, and Ray promises that energy will spill over into live shows, as well.
“We have the biggest possible version of ourselves in mind, and we’re working toward that,” says Ray. “It’s finally going to be time for us to have our party the way we’ve wanted to.”