by Janelle Engle
There’s a good chance that you haven’t heard of Capital Cities just yet…but you’ll likely know who they are within the first five seconds of their catchy single “Safe and Sound”. It’s a feel good pop song getting a lot of attention as a 2013 spring/summer anthem. In fact, the Capital Cities duo are no strangers to writing tunes that are guaranteed to stick in your head. The new-wave genius pair are Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, former jingle writers who met on Craigslist. Jingles, huh? Well, this is why every song on their infectious self-titled EP will have you humming along, long after the songs stopped playing.
While it may seem like the band has had recent success, it doesn’t feel that way for Simonian. He’s been working in the music industry since he was fifteen and calls music the most important thing in his life. “We’ve been doing this since we were teenagers and it’s been a gradual process,” he says. “But, I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. This is the time any one of our songs has really hit the radio the way it has and it’s very exciting and thrilling.”
With passion like this, it’s not much of a surprise that one of the songs on their current EP is called “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo”. It’s a techno-pop song that shows just how much these guys love what they do. “This is a love song to a beat up stereo, it represents music and our love for it and how much more music is than anything in our lives.” says Simonian.
“I Sold My Bed, Not My Stereo” was not the only song with an interesting meaning behind it. Recent radio hit “Safe and Sound” seems like a happy-go-lucky pop song on the surface, but it was revealed to be a little bit more than that once the first music video was released. With elements of dancing mixed in with war and destruction, it added an element of darkness to a happy song. But there was a good reason for it. “The lyrics to the song describe doomsday and Armageddon,” explains Simonian. “The idea is there’s a lot of tragedy and dark themes around us, but, trying to stay optimistic and in the grand scheme of things, everything will be fine and we’re all safe and sound. We wanted to juxtapose the good times with the bad times because then the good times are even more appreciated.” If the war and dance music video is too much, the band has other versions to go along with the single- crash dummies featured in one and another in the works focusing more on dancing than war.
Since Capital Cities is now a well established band with a hit song, radio play and a tour with many sold out shows. So, what kind of advice would Simonian give someone in his position ten years ago? “Two things,” he says. “One, focus on the art itself and make sure you’re doing something that you truly believe is good in every way. Two, really work your butt off.”
It seems like the band will be following their own advice by wrapping up their debut album, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery, to be released June 11th. The album will include all current songs off the EP but fans will be happy to hear it will have six or seven brand new songs as well as several guest vocalists and musicians. Capital Cities, in all their techno dance glory, can be found in Philadelphia at the TLA on May 10th.
“Our shows are high energy, danceable and a lot of fun. We like to take our audience on a journey so they’re fully engaged throughout the whole set,” says Simonian. If that’s not reason enough to attend, the band is also known for its unique cover songs. They’ve covered everything from Madonna to Pink Floyd to The Bee Gees. Sounds like this is a show you don’t want to miss out on dancing at.