A year ago the name Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros would have attracted a big “huh?” Today, they are selling out club sized venues quite easily, and are destined to the breakout band of the summer festival season. Although the band is relatively young in history, (their first show as a full band was played 7/18/07), they are experienced, as the ensemble is led by Alex Ebert, former vocalist of the power pop group Ima Robot. Along with a crew of seasoned musicians – that is not unlike what the Polyphonic Spree were doing years back (without the white robes), Edwards Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros appear to be motivated by something bigger than themselves.
After breaking up with his girlfriend, moving out of his house, and joining a 12-step program for addiction, Ebert began work on a story about a messianic figure named Edward Sharpe. According to Ebert, Sharpe "was sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind…but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love."
Ebert later met singer Jade Castrinos in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2009, as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Ebert and Castrinos toured the country with a group of fellow musicians in a big white school bus and the rest is history. Their debut Up From Below has spawned the single “Home” – one of those songs that you’ve heard even if you think you haven’t. In fact it was recently played on a recent episode of American Idol, but who cares about that, Glide recently had a few moments to chat with Ebert.
Your live show has been described as equal parts hippie love-fest and musical traveling circus – how un-accurate is that if at all and what descriptions drive you crazy?
All descriptions are fine I guess… words are alright… they can approximate things, flash sequences of imagery in one’s mind, give a world… but usually, in these cases, words are used to categorize, to give it likeness to other things that exist in categories.. and thats just the thing – I like transcendence… and a good show, experience, flies over and thru and transcends categories, makes them meaningless… if ‘Exhilarating’ or ‘JOyful’ were musical genres I’d be alright with belonging to them, or even declaring them here and there!
What recent performances have been particular highlights in last 12 months of your breakout year? Is there anyone in particular that you’re particularly hoping to jam or sit in with the Magnetic Zeros one day?
SO many shows – our early shows in LA – Mountain Bar, our 4AM show at SXSW last year, our show at the Mayan and Los Angeles… and then Coachella, which was nearly shocking. Be nice to play with Bob Dylan and Neil Young and David Bowie… and friends in general!
What challenges are there in touring and playing with a ten-piece plus band and what advice would you give to another band trying to burden the financial responsibilities of touring with a large ensemble?
Its ‘tough’ but its not if you let it be the thing that springs from joy and light. Take it lightly – but have your utopian, ‘un-realistic’ vision of a ‘future’ at the front of your mind, literally – at your forehead, third eye. Take each day as it comes, one foot in front of the other – watch your feet with your eyes and the future with your mind.
Your songs represent a major genre shift throughout the album. The band’s sound in many ways borrows from the past, were there any specific eras, bands or scenes from the past that you attempted to incorporate into your sound?
Good ones, things that beat, beat the heart, pound smiles, community sounds, children playing, elementary school sing-alongs, gliding on strings, string theory.
It has been said that you attribute your sound to a conscious effort to connect with your most childlike musical impulses. What creative results has this connection caused and what is an example of a childlike musical impulse?
To be as free, and wonder-some as a child, as a fresh and socially green being, pure, instincts followed by actions, not considerations, impulses trusted, spirit trusted…
In the songs “Home” – there is a dialogue between Alexander and Jade, in which she falls out the window and Alexander falls in love with Jade on the way to the hospital… how much of that occurrence is a true story?
The entire thing!
Photos by Amy Soderlind