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Cage the Elephant Go ‘Night Running’ with Beck at Shoreline

In Music
STILL STANDING: Despite a rough streak of breakups and bad luck, Cage the Elephant marches on.

STILL STANDING: Despite a rough streak of breakups and bad luck, Cage the Elephant marches on.

Brad Schultz isn’t supposed to be in Nashville. “We should be on a little run in Europe, festivals and things,” says the Cage the Elephant guitarist, “but our guitar player smashed his knee up pretty bad. He’s actually having surgery right now, as we speak.”

The accident occurred roughly 15 minutes into a recent festival set in the Netherlands. As the band played “Cold Cold Cold,” from 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty, guitarist Nick Bockrath approached the audience for his guitar solo, jumping off the drum riser toward the front of the stage.

“And he just landed weird,” Schultz says. “He tore his ACL, tore his TCL and fractured his tibia. Pretty gnarly injury.”

While Bockrath is now on his way to recovery, the on-stage accident was only the latest in a series of misfortunes, heartbreaks and tragedies to befall the Grammy-winning band. In just a few short years, the group encountered deaths, divorce, and overdoses—much of which became the influence for this year’s moody, slick Social Cues.

“We’ve always wanted our records to reflect the things that we’ve been through, leading up to that record,” Schultz says. “And it was a tough time in life for everybody. In the span of the last two or three years, we’ve had close to 10 of our friends and family members pass away. At one time it seemed like this never-ending wave of doom. And at the same time, Matt was going through his own struggles within his personal relationship.”

In lead single “Ready to Let Go,” singer Matt Schultz (Brad’s brother) details a portentous trip to the ruins of Pompeii with his then-wife.

“Sun went down over Pompeii,” he sings, over snapping guitar and a buzzsaw synth line. “On holy ground, our vows were broken.”

With the doomed city as its backdrop and central metaphor, “Ready to Let Go” builds to a huge chorus in which Schultz describes himself striking a match and spreading the ashes of his relationship.

“He was digging very deep,” Brad says of his brother’s lyrical process. “Sometimes those words are hard to sing when you’re in the middle of it, the middle of that kind of pain. I think in the end, though, the record became very therapeutic for us.”

Cage the Elephant come to Shoreline this week as part of the Night Running Tour they’re co-headlining with Beck. The tour draws its name from the band’s new single, which features their tour mate as a guest vocalist.

“We had only met him one time,” Schultz says, “but we started thinking about doing some kind of feature on the track and Beck just popped into my mind. We sent it on a whim, not even really thinking we’d hear back. And within maybe 24 hours he sent us back a demoed version with the verses that he’d put on there. He said he had four more verses if we wanted to hear more!”

“Night Running” is a clear album highlight—a dub-heavy pop jam that finds Beck rapping on the first verse and playing hype man on the chorus. The interplay of the voices, the back-and-forth chorus and the consistent forward momentum all make for one of the band’s most inspired songs yet. It also, hopefully, signals a step away from their recent run of bad luck.

“I think we’re in a good place, other than Nick’s knee,” Schultz says, chuckling. “We’re finally getting back to a bit of normalcy. Knock on wood. I feel like I’m constantly holding my breath even just saying that.”

Cage the Elephant
Jul 16, 6pm, $30
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View

 

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