“We wanna be friends with all of you.” The proposal echoes throughout Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre. The men behind it are Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, a.k.a. Capital Cities, the indie pop duo who are slowly taking over the world with their debut LP, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery.
It’s been a big year for the Los Angeles ensemble. Prior to the album’s release on June 4th, their single “Safe and Sound” had already worked its way into popular culture circulation, earning over two million YouTube views and regular radio play.
Days before the official album release, Capital Cities unleashed “Farrah Fawcett Hair,” a psychedelic pick-me-up of a single.
Music blogs lit up with orgasmic excitement. Pretty Much Amazing literally called the single “a miracle.”
“That song is the most experimental on the album, so I wasn’t expecting it to have a single characteristic to it,” Simonian says on the phone. “We were just throwing a bunch of ideas at the canvas.”
Ideas that stuck included a gospel choir repeating "good sh*t," voicing from the NPR-famous Frank Taraves and a feature by André 3000, which feels so right right and there's a reason for that.
“Within the song we list off really cool, undeniably good things in life,” says Simonian, noting the song’s modern-day Julie Andrews/Sound of Music-like narrative. “We also thought of André 3000 as an amazing rapper. … And then we said, ‘Hey, how about we have him actually perform on it.’”
The story behind the group’s creation is just as incidently charming. Simonian had posted an ad on Craigslist looking for singer-songwriters to produce. He only received one response. It was Merchant’s.
On stage, decked in matching embroidered baseball jackets, the two could be brothers. Backed by a billboard-sized pair of neon sunglasses and a full band (which includes the lasting effects of Spencer Ludwig’s jazz trumpet) they work as a unit, relaying their in-studio experiments in a high-energy set.
A crowd favorite during the two-night, sold-out El Rey appearance is “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo.” It rings like an anthem to post-adolescent perseverance that every single concert-goer is somehow in tune with at the exact same moment.
When asked whether the track was inspired by true events, Simonian says no. “But we have a big imagination.”