What happens when former jingle writers turn their attention to pop music?
“Mostly, we are going to try and stay sane,” says Capital Cities front man, Sebu Simonian. “This is our first tour, so a lot of discipline is required. Hopefully we don’t get into trouble.” A good goal for a band that in just four months managed to release a highly revered EP, record a full album and plan a forty-something stop, nationwide tour. “It’s going to be a whirlwind.” They'll stop in New Orleans Tuesday night at the House of Blues' Parish.
Pop songs shouldn’t come as a surprise for these ex-jingle writers. After meeting on Craigslist, front men Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian launched a business creating commercial music. That experience greatly facilitated the creation of mainstream dance hits. “Our history in writing jingles gives us an edge in the production of a song," he says. "I think we have a better idea of what people want to hear and we aren’t afraid to change the aesthetic.” The group has been compared to new wave dance rock bands Passion Pit and MGMT, but its twist has been to keep the lyrics simple, repeat them regularly, and focus on themes of positivity and visceral joy.
The group’s international hit and first recorded track, “Safe and Sound,” anchors Capital Cities' upcoming album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. In the song, Merchant and Simonian sing, “You could be my luck. / Even if the sky is falling down / I know we’ll make it safe and sound.” It's a conventional thought, but the explosion of synth horns in the chorus followed by a grooving synth melody is an irresistable call to the dance floor.
Much of the song’s success can be traced to the popularity of its music video. Created and edited by the duo, it juxtaposes a collection of dance clips and war scenes over the past century. “We were trying to express the idea that although there are always doomsday ideas, war and negativity around the world, we still end up dancing and creating these beautiful, joyous moments," Simonian says. "These are the moments that we should remember and focus on.”