For the past five years, Los Angeles indie-rock heroes Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have spread their catchy indie folk to the masses, even landing their single “Home” in an NFL commercial.
Having toured extensively in support of their 2009 breakthrough debut, Up From Below, the Zeros are in the process of putting the finishing touches on two releases slated to debut this year. The first, Here, comes out May 29 and the group plays the Greek Theatre tomorrow, May 4.
We spoke with singer Alexander Ebert.
Why did the band decide to release two separate records, as opposed to a double album?
There were a lot of factors that went into it. One was a timing issue. There were some songs that have affinities with others. [There] was an idea to break them up and put them together later on down the road as a double album or to let people digest them in small bits. … Not having the second half really done and having these group of nine songs being a family unto themselves just pushed it over the edge.
How are these albums different from Up From Below?
On the first album, we were becoming a band and [now] we are one. I had recently released a solo album that was entirely released and produced by myself, so in that sense I felt I had the confidence we'd be all right and not need a producer.
Whose decision was it to record up in Ojai?
We were looking for a studio to build and there was one open here. One of our two drummers was moving up here and it was already on our radar. I like the idea of recording outside of L.A. because it can be distracting, since it's our hometown.
Most people say that recording a follow-up can be more difficult than a band's debut.
In some ways this was an easier process because there's less time to mull over everything and overthink. We went with what felt good and kept it really simple.
What was it like hearing “Home” on the NFL commercial for the first time?
I dug it. Of things you can lend your music to, sports is the best one you can do. I love playing and following sports, so I was pretty happy to have it on there.
So are you a football fan?
No. I actually am a huge basketball fan. I'm pretty fond of Oklahoma City. I love watching [Kevin] Durant and [Russell] Westbrook; they're both so good and fun to watch. I find the Lakers interesting as well, because there's so much personality and weird ego stuff going on with them, sort of like a soap opera or a band in many ways.
Could you ever have predicted playing the Greek?
The first time I heard we were playing the Greek, I had trouble not cracking a smile. I had trouble pretending that it was a normal thing. It's amazing and a dream come true.