Monday, September 30, 2013

Cage the Elephant's Matt Schultz: I'm on a quest to be independent of my desires

Posted By on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 1:15 PM

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Has this new album changed the way you think musically? Has it changed the way you talk to people? Are you catching yourself more now in conversation, forcing yourself to be more honest?

I hope that I'm not a product of the album, I hope the album is a product of me. So I think the things that we learn along the way are definitely finding a way to impact us.

I think that when you start to try to be artistic or poetic, you kill everything that's beautiful about expression and communication, because when you come down to it, art is communication. It's a communal thing, you know? When there's a painting or a piece of music, it was done for the good of the body, not the individual. It's a thing to share, to have that connection, and so whether it's a circle of people around a fire beating on drums, or it's a man in the 16th century composing pieces to be performed for an orchestra, it was all something for the collective.

When I was writing [the album], I was so limited by what I felt I was projecting. Specific words that are deemed to sound intellectual or artistic, or like, "This is beautiful, so use these words." "Illustrate with them, and you'll look cool." I was limiting myself. So my friend was like, "Matt, why are you trying so hard to sound poetic instead of writing how you speak, because that's poetic?" And it was so convicting. It cut me right in half. I couldn't say anything. It was definitely a revelation in a long string of lightbulb moments that played a role in the whole creative process for this record. Hopefully it continues on. You always want to learn more.

Is there a specific message that you're trying to communicate with
Melophobia?

I don't know if there's a specific message. I think I'm just doing the best I can to take snapshots of the world, and I'm fallible, so it's only my perception of things. Hopefully there are some flickers of truth in there. But I don't know if there's a specific message. Maybe messages within there... .. But I wouldn't even call them messages. My whole thing is a quest to be independent of my own desires. Because I justify everything that I do so it's really hard to judge whether or not something that... You know, it's like gravity, for instance. I could hope that a quarter would float, but a quarter won't float. I think that if you seek for that [independence], you can create great art in life.

This may be slightly off topic, but I'm just curious... If you think back to when you were first listening to music, when you were still discovering, is there an album or a moment that truly changed you and the way you felt and thought about art? 

Absolutely. Yeah.... When I was younger, right when my parents were getting divorced, I purchased a Bob Dylan record. I'm not sure if it was Bob Dylan Freewheelin' or if it was a compilation disc. And I first listened to it, and because I had been so... trained to listen to particular sounds and... You know, we're trained to like certain things throughout life, and so it didn't make sense to me when I first heard it. It was rough around the edges and it wasn't perfect. Everything wasn't in the perfect place. And so when I first heard it, it didn't make sense to me. And I sat down and I watched a documentary with my father about Bob Dylan - it was Bring It All Back Home, I think - and so we watched that documentary, and it clicked for me. And I was blown away. And I went back and listened to the record with new ears, and it changed everything, and I never listened to music the same way again. Music was different from then on out. Because I was very sheltered from music growing up - well, not sheltered from music, but from secular music - and so I had, you know, everything I'd ever heard was perfectly recorded, compressed, everything was in the right place, extremely produced, extremely edited, and so when I heard that, it was like, wow. It was real emotion. And it was a pretty special moment.

Cage the Elephant's new record,
Melophobia, will be out Tuesday, October 8. Check their website for upcoming tour dates (nothing soon in our neck of the woods, but here's to hoping).


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