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Uncaged: Cage The Elephant free the beast

by Gavin Heaney

Cage The Elephant is ready to storm BeachLife.

The last year and a half has put a literal cage around every stage. Performing onstage is the natural culmination of all the songwriting, rehearsals, recording and production, and Cage the Elephant is especially known for the raw intensity of its live shows. To lead singer Matt Shultz, this is where the real adventure is.

“It comes in waves and different forms. There’ll be moments where you have real emotional breakthroughs. Every single night there are new discoveries;” he said in an interview. “Every night has its hurdles; emotionally, spiritually and physically.”

Photo by Neil Krug

Shultz approaches performing by connecting his inner authenticity with the audience.

“It’s problem solving, as in, ‘How can I put myself in a place to be absolutely sincere and genuine?’” he said. “It's very conscious. It’s a mix between intellect and spirit; where intellect is when you put yourself in places where you have to react to the environment and the spirit is reacting to the environment. The two work in tandem with each other.”

And anyone who has witnessed the mad stampede of the band’s live show can instantly connect with the band’s high and hard hitting rock n’ roll. Cage The Elephant formed in 2006 in Kentucky and set out to stomp all over the world. The current line up features Matt Shultz on vocals, his older brother Brad Shultz and Nick Bockrath on guitars, Matthan Minster on keys, Daniel Tichenor on bass and drummer Jared Champion.

Their self-titled first album gave us their punky, jangly rap rock sound and the hit “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” which tells the moralistic tales of those who gave it all for gold. Further albums Thank You, Happy Birthday and Melophobia gave us their more indie alt 60’s Brit inspired garage rock and the hit “Come a Little Bit Closer” the sleeker, indie pop feel that explodes in Fender surf guitar riffs. Albums Tell Me I’m Pretty and Social Cues both won Grammy’s for Best Rock Album and cemented the band’s place in rock history with songs like “Trouble,” the Pixie’s inspired tribute to the eternal underdog, a champion to coming up short. But Cage The Elephant is coming up on the big top.

With music awards, worldwide acclaim and a legion of fans, they are poised to become fixtures in the rock world for a long time. According to Matt Shultz, they are finally positioned to do much more, to go deeper into their art and connect even more with their audience;

“As a whole, Western Civilization is trending to buy into a more surface level version of an experience. We had the idea that we could cut through all the noise by making the art and the expressiveness more than the commerciality,” he said. “Ultimately you hope to influence the audience by lifting their spirits and giving them a joyous experience, by being more of a giver than a taker.”


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