The first time an audience heard “Shut Up and Dance,” Walk the Moon knew they had a special song on their hands.
“We really like to try new material in the live space before we take it to the studio if we can,” says guitarist Eli Maiman. “The first time we played it, it got such a reaction from the crowd. We barely knew the song. They definitely didn’t know it and yet they were singing along to it by the second chorus so we knew something special was happening.” “Shut Up and Dance,” the lead single for Walk the Moon’s second album “Talking Is Hard,” has become an international hit, reaching the Platinum sales in the United States last month and charting across Europe.
The Cincinatti-based band—Maiman, lead singer, songwriter and keyboard player Nicholas Petricca, bassist Kevin Ray and drummer Sean Waugaman—broke through in 2011 with the single “Anna Sun” from the self-released debut “I Want! I Want!” RCA released Walk the Moon’s self-titled major label debut in 2012 and the band toured relentlessly.
“We feel that the heart of Walk the Moon is in the live show,” Maiman says. “That’s where the experience comes together in its purest form. We like to say Walk the Moon is not a spectator sport. It’s very much about everyone in the room, not about just the band in a fishbowl up on stage.” For their sophomore album, Walk the Moon rented out an old Masonic lodge across the Ohio River in Dayton, Kentucky, to begin songwriting and rehearsing. The time and space, not to mention the odd environment, let the band experiment as they set a highly ambitious agenda for “Talking Is Hard.”
“Our main goal with the record was we wanted to just go beyond anything we’d done before. We wanted the scope of the record to be wider,” Maiman says. “We recognized we had a bit of a platform with this record. With the first record, you’re not sure anyone is going to hear it, but with this record we wanted to take the opportunity to say something that’s important for us. A couple songs on the record delve into slightly headier topics, our relationship with each other there and our relationship with the Earth.”
In the six weeks the band spent in the rented Masonic lodge, Walk the Moon tried new approaches and took the time to explore sounds they’d never tried before.
“We had a ton of space in there and there were a lot of weird stimulating pieces in the lodge, lots of taxidermy and weird educational skeletons hanging around and lots of art. It was freeing and we weren’t afraid to try any bit of weird inspiration,” Maiman says. “If someone was listening to Mr. Mister on the way into practice we could explore what Walk the Moon sounded like that.”
The band wrote 60 songs and narrowed that down to about 25 songs all four band members felt passionate about, then moved to North Hollywood for two months of recording with producer Tim Pagnotta, who helped shape the 12-song album.
“We worked really hard on this record for two years and ended up with something that we’re really excited about and proud of. The future now is just a whole lot of touring,” Maiman says. “What we want to deliver is a powerful, uplifting, empowering experience that feels very communal. Part of that has been by our design, but a whole lot of that has been because we have such amazing fans.”