When they take the stage, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros cast an air of postmodern folk-pop carousel. Arrayed throughout the 10-plus-member group is a motley crew of hipsters, hippies, freaks, and geeks that would seem incongruous were it not for the genuine appeal of their unironic exuberance, all led by the mad, charismatic whirl of frontman Alex Ebert.
"The only thing was that we wanted to pull this off playing as many live instruments as possible," offers guitarist Christian Letts from the band's home base in Los Angeles. "No aesthetic was ever planned. I think it all ties into the idea that we don't even know what we're going to open with until we're walking out on stage."
Touring behind last year's debut, Up From Below (Rough Trade), Sharpe & the Zeros have become a live force drawing its audiences into an infectious fold like a ragtag Polyphonic Spree. Like the Spree, there's a reactionary force to the band's music and show, a determined eschewal of the contemporary scene's aloofness.
"It was great for me just being in a band where we were having fun. We could smile!" laughs Letts. "Being positive is definitely a huge thing – love and honesty and truth. As cheesy as all those words sound, they're very contagious and necessary. And it's not all happy. The songs are heavy and beautiful, and there's an acknowledging of the darkness but persevering through and finding salvation.
"This whole experience has been a real example to me of everything that you go through in your life leads up to certain moments, and not regretting any of the past or pain or anything, because it's all got you exactly where you're supposed to be. That's how I feel with this."
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