Kentucky-bred alt-rock outfit Cage the Elephant just returned with their third album, Melophobia, and a new perspective on writing and the creative process. Turns out, Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock was partially responsible for the artistic leap forward.
In 2012, after nearly five straight years of touring behind their first two albums, the quintet stopped for a year-long breather. The down time at home (both in Bowling Green and nearby Nashville) helped frontman Matt Shultz reflect on his craft.
"Melophobia by definition means having a fear of music," Shultz tells Fuse of the album's title. The band's fear, he says, was of writing music that "catered to be perceived as artistic, poetic, cool, commercial or anything other than being an honest communicator of a thought or feeling that genuinely inspired you."
"It was about combating fear-based writing," he adds.
Insert Brock, who signed Cage the Elephant's close hometown pals and onetime tour mates, Morning Teleportation, to his Portland, OR-based label Glacial Pace Records. Brock told MT's frontman Tiger Merritt "that unless he's slightly embarrassed by the lyrics he's singing, then he's probably not doing a good job at writing songs." Merritt told Shultz the anecdote back home in Bowling Green during his year off and it "struck a chord with me and resonated," says Shultz. "I wanted to write songs about things that were close to me, like relationships with friends and family and love."
Shultz elaborates in the video above and also details "It's Just Forever," the searing Melophobia track featuring vocals from Alison Mosshart of the Kills and Dead Weather. The track, Shultz says, was inspired by Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic "I Put a Spell on You." Watch above for more.