- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2016

You know the song “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities, that endearingly delightful ear worm from their 2013 debut CD, “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,” that put the Angeleno duo on the pop culture map. Their poppy, ‘70s-influenced new single, “Vowels,” is currently tearing up the charts.

Fronted by Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant, Capital Cities has continued to churn out synth pop for the new millennium, and the boys from California will bring their unique take on the contemporary soundscape to the District’s 9:30 Club Tuesday evening to help ring in November.

Messrs. Simonian and Merchant spoke with The Washington Times about becoming a worldwide touring phenom, their advice to young musicians and what they absolutely must have on tour.

Question: Have you been surprised by the success of “Safe and Sound”? What doors has it opened for you?

Sebu Simonian: The success of “Safe and Sound” has opened the doors of several tour buses and numerous hotels all over the world. Touring exposed us to many cultures. So besides doors, it has opened my eyes.

Q: Who were some of your musical heroes? Have you gotten to talk shop with any of them?

SS: John Lennon, Jeff Buckley, Bob Marley and Syd Barrett. I have only communicated with them through meditation.

Q: How have you navigated the many changes plaguing the music industry?

Ryan Merchant: I wouldn’t describe the changes as something that “plagues” the industry because it could turn out that these changes are ultimately better for the music industry. Some people see streaming as a bad thing because of the royalty amount paid, but as more and more people get on these services and stream music all day long, you’ll be able to generate quite a bit of income from streaming.

Regardless, the only thing you can do to navigate the change is make sure you aren’t putting out mediocre music and that your live show is engagingly desirable.

Q: What can D.C. audiences expect when they come to see you at the 9:30 Club?

SS: D.C. audiences can expect a little less politics and a little more rock with a twist of dance. We’ll be throwing in a few brand-new songs to the set.

Q: What sorts of things will you do in the nation’s capital if you have downtime?

RM: I love visiting the Air and Space Museum. It always blows my mind how far we’ve come from the Wright Brothers in 1906 to modern space travel.

Q: What’s one thing you absolutely have to have with you on the road?

SS: Fruit. Vegetables are fine too, but if I had to pick one, fruit.

Q: What do you tell aspiring musicians now who ask you for advice?

RM: I tell them to focus on creating really good music and a great live show before doing anything else. If you have these two things in place, the other aspects of the business are much easier and almost take care of themselves.

Capital Cities performs Tuesday at the 9:30 Club.


• Eric Althoff can be reached at twt@washingtontimes.com.

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