A-Sides With Jon Chattman: The WALK THE MOON "Dance Off": Eli Maiman Talks Hard About Recreating '80s "Nuggets of Nerdy Goodness"

"Shut Up and Dance," the new song from alt-rockers WALK THE MOON, is one of the best '80s songs to ever hit mainstream radio. Ironically, it just came out. Off topic, is that the correct use for the word "ironically"? Alanis still gets burned for her use of the word. Anyway, Ohio natives scored two massive hits in "Anna Sun" and "Tightrope" two years ago, and the aforementioned first single off their new TALKING IS HARD album makes it a trifecta. It wouldn't surprise me if it tops both alt-rock charts as well as Top 40. It transcends genres and is the feel great song of the year. Lionel Richie and his 1986 ponytail would be proud. Ceiling... prepare to get all danced on.

But let's go beyond the new song, which is already topping the Spotify viral top 50, and was an iTunes single of the week earlier this month. The entire album (out Dec. 2) is the bees' knees, which is, by the way, a really dumb expression but very accurate. The band (Nicholas Petricca on lead vocals, Eli Maiman on guitar, Kevin Ray on bass, and Sean Waugaman on drums) elevate their game and expand on the promise of their debut. After a string of dates already, WALK THE MOON will hit the road with the stellar band The Griswolds in March. Go ahead and "treat. yo. self." to their "TALKING IS HARD Tour."

Last week, I discussed WALKing, talking, dancing, and shutting up with band member Maiman. Read on. Dancing optional.

"Shut Up and Dance" is the best 80s song I've heard this decade. It's so infectious it's not even funny. I want to Lionel Richie my ceiling every time I hear it. Explain the song and how it came about lyrically and stylistically.
Lyrically, "Shut Up And Dance" came from one fateful night at the Funky Sole Party at the Echo in Los Angeles. We wanted to write a dork rock anthem...kind of like "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" or any of those other amazing nuggets of nerdy goodness for which we have the '80s to thank.

Mission accomplished. The song took on a life of its own on YouTube. Can you describe the sensation of watching others dance (sometimes awkwardly) to your song for the world to see?
The fans are such a huge part of what we do. We asked everyone to send us videos of themselves getting down to "SUAD", and man oh man, did they deliver. We received everything from dorm-room jam sessions, to well-produced short films, to entire marching bands dancing with their sousaphones and snare drums on. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and we draw a lot of energy and inspiration from them.

TALKING IS HARD is the title of your album. Does that imply singing is easy?
We won't say that singing is easy, but we'll say it's definitely easier than talking.

You're doing a good job today! With a few hit singles under your belt, was it easier hitting the studio this time out compared to when you were rookies putting together your debut? I can see it being even more difficult this time out, which one wouldn't necessarily think. Why am I answering your question? Go for it.
I think you've kind of got it figured out there. For sure, it wasn't easier than before. We knew we wanted to top what we did on the last record, and no matter how you tried to ignore that impulse, it was always kind of at the back of your mind. With TALKING IS HARD, we really blew out the ends of the spectrum of what WALK THE MOON is. At times, it's heavier and darker than anything we've done before. At other times, it's more tender and vibey. And, of course, there's a lot in between.

It was important to us to forge into new sonic territories on this record, and I think we succeeded there. We were also aware that this time we had a little bit of a soapbox to stand on. We have a voice, and it's important to us to use it for good. We have a few songs on the record that deal with more serious topics, our relationship with the planet, our relationships with each other. But throughout, we wanted to keep the spirit of Walk the Moon intact: fun-loving and positive. We're excited to see how it resonates with people.

Fandom aside, WALK THE MOON is the band name. What would a "WALK THE MOONMAN" mean to you? Explain the value in MTV and their award shows.
Music isn't a competition. It's about expressing a piece of humanity that cannot be shared with words alone. It's about connecting with other people, creating a moment where we forget our sorrows and our differences and celebrate our shared human experience. That being said, we'd love to win some stuff.

Off topic, my second child was just born, please share some wisdom and pass it onto him.
First off, congratulations! Secondly... ahem... hello, little baby! Welcome to the world. You should really have daddy go buy you all the WALK THE MOON records, maybe even a cute little WTM onesie.

If those onesies exist, I'm so there. Lastly, what are your long-term tour plans. A little headlining, a little opening for a HUGE band? Tell me, and I'll personally call Dave Grohl on your behalf. OK that's not true. I only once knew a guy who looks like him.
Some touring, a late night appearance or two, more touring, more videos, some burritos, a little more touring... We're really excited to put TALKING IS HARD out into the world on Dec. 2. We're just going to follow it where it takes us and go from there.

A-Sides "Delve Into Twelve" Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its Top 12 tracks of the week AKA the "Delve Into Twelve"based on the following contributing factors: songs I'm playing out that particular week NO MATTER WHEN THEY WERE RELEASED (think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks, and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and dug a bunch, posts and trends I've noticed on my friends' Facebook walls, and -- most importantly -- the songs my two-year-old-plus son gravitates toward by stomping his feet in approval. Yeah, you read that right. This weeks follows below (LW= last week's rank).

12. "Lullabye" (retro cut - LW-12) - The Dixie Chicks
11. "Crazy for You" (LW-10) - Scars on 45 (Watch their exclusive A-Sides performance here!)
10. "Champions of Red Wine" (LW-9) - The New Pornographers
9. "The Business Of Emotion" (LW-7) - Big Data (feat. White Sea)
8. "Inside Out" (LW-6) - Spoon
7. "Shut Up and Dance" (reentry) - Walk the Moon
6. "Beggin For Thread" (LW-5) - Banks
5. "O" (LW-8) - Coldplay
4. "Da Vinci" (LW-3) - Weezer
3. "Something From Nothing (LW-4) - Foo Fighters
2. "First" (LW-2) - Cold War Kids (Watch their exclusive A-Sides performance here.)
1. "Mess is Mine" (LW-1) - Vance Joy (Watch his exclusive performance of the song for A-Sides here!)

About A-Sides Music

Jon Chattman's "A-Sides Music" series was established in August 2011 and usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing. Artists have included: fun, Courtney Love, Air Supply, Bastille, Vance Joy, Alice Cooper, Echosmith, Charli XCX, Jake Miller, American Authors, Cold War Kids, Imagine Dragons, Gary Clark Jr., and more! A-Sides theme written and performed by Blondfire.