Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Taft Theatre
When the first person steps out on stage, the crowd goes wild. Their screams are deafening and indistinguishable from one another like a rush of sound exploding upwards from all around you. The second person steps out and the screaming increases in volume, which perhaps you hadn’t thought possible. Out steps a third person, then a fourth. The screaming tops out at person five, and by number six you fear your neighbor may have torn their vocal cords. Seven and eight appear and you wonder why you hadn’t noticed all those instruments before. Nine and 10 finish the group. If you have never heard Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, your heart may be filled with fear right now. Don’t worry – despite consisting of 10 people, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is not just another jam band.
Music that is well done and forms into solid pieces flows out with sturdy, solid construction. Each and every member of this 10-piece ensemble holds a piece to the puzzle. Each person adds their own touch. Clearly, these people know how to work together quite well.
Edward Sharpe was created by Alex Ebert as messiah in a story he wrote. This character was later adapted to his on stage persona. The music started as a collaboration between Ebert and Jade Castrinos. Together, they took inspiration from a wide variety of sources including folk, rock, gospel and psychedelic. They had more friends come in to collaborate, and the group itself took on a very hippie ’60s appeal. The collective played their first public show in 2007. Up from Below, their first studio album, was released on July 7, 2009, on Community Records and featured the popular single “Home.” Their second album, Here, came out in 2012, and their eponymous third album was released in July 2013.
Choosing to go self-titled seems a bold choice for the third studio album. With so many people contributing, one might assume deciding what to name an album is a difficult thing to agree upon. “We felt this album was really representative of who we are as a band,” said Jade Castrinos (vocals, guitar). “We hadn’t done a self-titled album yet and it just sort of felt right at the time, but we didn’t decide until the end of the album. We [all work together to] brainstorm. I think the feeling of a group comes through on this. That’s what’s great about it. It’s not like a teaching thing. It’s not something you have to sit and think about to figure out our intention.”
Castrinos takes a pause to yawn as she is still adjusting to the time zone, this being soon after the flight back from the European leg of the tour. They are going just about nonstop in promotion of this new album. Ten members, who switch out from time to time, are going on tour and are on board that plane. It gets you wondering how exactly it works to collaborate on an album with so many individuals in the mix. “Somebody will bring a seed to the song and then somebody else will, like, water that and kind of completes it or you know we’ll all share our ideas from the beginning. It’s all different layers,” Castrinos admitted. “It usually works best when I’m doing something pretty well past [the beginning] or on its way to being [done].”
It’s one challenge to create music with a large group of contributors on a recording, but you may wonder how this works for playing on stage. “It’s really great to be performing with your best friends. We have a ton of fun,” Castrinos said. “[When people see our show] we want them to have a blast. We want to show them who we are. We keep it upbeat and optimistic.”
With exhaustion in her voice, Castrinos seems a little tired of talking about the tour. She sounds like she could use some sleep in general. I decided to ask about other upcoming projects for the band.
“We’re doing a circus in Los Angeles in October,” Castrinos said. She perks up a little as she says this. Clearly, it’s an event she is looking forward to. “It’s a circus festival with lots of things and performers, performing artists. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” That sounds like a great finale to a fantastic tour.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are touring in support of the new self-titled album. It really speaks of who they are and shows it to the world. They are giving back a positive fun group experience to the people. Even when they wear themselves out, the band is having a good time, and that comes across from the stage. Friendship and fun are ideas that need no interpretation. Simply open your ears and let it flow into your mind. Embrace the layers of music. Being in the crowd at their show you are part of a group, so absorb those positive vibes and enjoy yourself.
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros will perform on Sunday, Aug. 25 at the Taft Theatre, 317 E. 5th St. in Cincinnati. Doors open at 7:30. For ticket information, please visit tafttheatre.org. For more information on Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, please visit edwardsharpeandthemagneticzeros.com.
Learn more about Kate E Lore and see her web-comics and blog at KateELore.com. Kate can be reached at KateLore@DaytonCityPaper.com.