Interview with Matt Shultz of Cage The Elephant

(credit: Sandy Kim)

Popped Music Festival bursts onto the scene September 23rd and 24th with two days of great music, comedy, and food at FDR park here in Philadelphia. The line-up of artists/bands is loaded with big names that we are anxiously awaiting. Independent Philly will be there to cover both days of Popped Fest, and to help get everyone as pumped up as we are for this event, we’ll be interviewing some of the performers over the next week.

Our interview series kicks off with Matt Shultz, lead singer of Cage The Elephant, who, along with The Shins, are slated to headline day 1.

2011 has been a crazy year for Cage The Elephant. Their sophomore album “Thank You, Happy Birthday” debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200, and they’ve played shows and festivals all over the world. But there ain’t no rest for these wicked performers. Thankfully, they were able to slow down long enough to answer some questions for us ahead of their upcoming gig.

Independent Philly: Who came up with the name “Cage the Elephant”? Does it have any special significance?

Matt Shultz: It doesnt have any significance, to me anyway. We were playing a show in Georgia under a different name and a homeless guy there was ranting and raving about an elephant cage that needed cleaning. I’m sure it had special significance for that guy.

IP: You’ve played at Festivals like SXSW, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, and Glastonbury… what’s the largest crowd you’ve ever played in front of?

MS: Lollapolooza (approximately 36,000 people) or Freak Fest in Madison, WI (around 39,000).

IP: Is there one show that really stands out in your mind?

MS: Recently, Lollapolooza 2011 was amazing. The crowd was so good, and the weather was perfect. It was super hot mid-day with a cool summer rain in the afternoon which everyone really needed. Amazing.

IP: What was it like hearing yourself on the radio for the first time?

MS: It was weird. The first time was in a Burger King in the UK. We were on tour and stopped to eat some food, and I heard “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” on the radio. I was like “Hey! this is my band”, but no one cared.

IP: What can fans of Cage the Elephant, who haven’t seen you perform live, expect to see from you at Popped Festival?

MS: Pain. We’re gonna get on stage and throw darts at each other and have a bottle rocket fight. it’s going to be dangerous.

IP: As a music fan, who are you most excited to see perform at Popped Festival?

MS: I love The Shins. I definitely want to check out Elbow, The Joy Formidable, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Panda Bear.

IP: Are you planning to stick around the Festival for Day #2?

MS: I’d love to but I think we have a show the day after so we have to head out.

IP: Your second album, “Thank You, Happy Birthday”, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200. What has the fan reaction been like to the new songs at live shows?

MS: People’s reaction has been pretty good live. We’re getting a bigger (fan) reaction out of the new material than from the old songs.

IP: Which experience did you enjoy more, performing on David Letterman, or singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on opening day for the Reds?

MS: David Letterman. Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was pretty hilarious because they didn’t tell us when to start and we were kind of staggered at the start.

IP: Which band member would win the following contests…

A Fist Fight:

Brad or Daniel or all 5 of us would knock each other out.

A Cheesesteak Eating Contest:


A Game of Madden 2012 Football:

Brad or Jared, they are the video game guys. Jared is always bragging that he’s great at Madden but I’ve never seen him play.

(credit: Sandy Kim)

IP: What’s been your biggest rock-star moment to date?

MS: I don’t have very many. Ended up at a weird party after Lollapolooza where there were a bunch of people who hadn’t listened to records in ages. It was just weird.

IP: Tell us something that would surprise, or even shock our readers…

Cigarettes Kill. Tobacco Kills.


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