American group Cage the Elephant returns after the storm

Survivor of the indie rock wave of the 2000s, the American group Cage the Elephant resurfaces after five years of not-so-restful silence. Neon Pill, an album of turmoil, remorse and resistance, sees the sextet seeking to “find its voice” without completely abandoning the garage and punk influences of its dazzling first albums. Candid conversation with author, composer and singer Matt Shultz, expected on August 26 at the Bell Center alongside his brother Brad and the rest of the flock.

The question we ask him at the outset is not a simple polite phrase, given everything that has happened since Cage the Elephant’s last album, Social Cues, published in 2019. How are you, Matt? “Good,” he replies, a touch of hesitation in his voice. “The release of our new album comes with a lot of different emotions…”

Matt Shultz knows that the subject of his mental health will be brought up during media interviews, especially since he himself addresses it head-on in certain songs on the album, starting with the title track, Neon Pill : “ It’s a hit and run, oh no / Double-crossed by a neon pill / Like a loaded gun, my love », he croons to a bittersweet melody – the allusion, we will soon understand, could not be clearer.

He himself chooses to lay his cards on the table, from the start of our phone call. “If you allow me, I think it would be relevant to start the conversation like this: during the pandemic, I was prescribed medication which caused me to slip, without my knowledge, into psychosis,” he unpacks. . The album addresses these difficult times that I had to go through, as well as those that the guys also experienced in recent years. I wanted to talk about it right away because this album allows me — allows us, in fact — to close a chapter in our lives and start a new one. »

The piece is out, we won’t dwell on the subject with him, but we must still remember the events experienced by Matt. Then in full psychosis in February 2023 and separated from his wife (they have since mended), Shultz is arrested in Manhattan after an employee of the hotel where he was staying saw him going to the bathroom with a gun (a second was found in his room). Hospitalized for two months after the arrest, he pleaded guilty last September to three charges, but avoided prison. The episode, he said in an Instagram post in February 2024, “undoubtedly saved [sa] life “.

And as misfortunes never come alone, Matt and his brother also lost their father during this pandemic. Brad Shultz Sr. passed on his love of music to his sons (“He left me and my two brothers a huge amount of songs that he had recorded since the 1970s, and I know those songs will continue to inspire me for the rest of my days”), and it is as much this passion as this filiation that is celebrated in the pretty late evening ballad Out Loud.

“When my dad got sick, he took advantage of the time he had left to tell us all kinds of stories from his younger days,” says Matt. One he told me was with his own father, when he was in his early twenties. They had been arguing, the kind of argument that makes a son say to his father, “I’ll never speak to you again.” Then he hunkered down to Florida, where he stayed for quite a while, long enough to start to miss his father and regret falling out with him. So, he composed a song for her, to come back to Kentucky to sing it to her. A great moment of reconciliation, he told me, and this story inspired me to compose Out Loud. »

New look

This is what we should remember from this new album Neon Pill : not the psychosis, nor the gun in the toilet, nor Dad’s funeral and the rest of the misfortune that happened with COVID, but the new look at life, the perspective, the introspection, the wisdom acquired. It can be read and heard. The garage rock and punk hints imbuing the group’s famous first three albums emerge more gently on Good Time and on the catchy ones Metaverse And Silent Picture, softened by the robust melancholy of Shy Eyes Or Float into the Sky. Fifteen years after the first album, the time, inevitably, is a little taking stock.

“This album was necessary,” says Matt. These songs came out of us, spontaneously. We all agree on this: Neon Pill is really the sum of our experiences and our five previous albums. I don’t really know if it’s innovative or if we’ve really invented a new way of expressing ourselves, but for me, these songs are new, and that’s all that matters. »

Cage the Elephant is rehearsing his new concert in preparation for the tour that will bring him to us in August. The opportunity to bring out old songs, like the one titled 2024 (released in 2011 on the second album, Thank You, Happy Birthday, and almost never played in concert since)? “Ah! maybe yes, maybe no,” says the singer, leaving some doubt, who admits to not having thought too much about the temporal scope of this little pop-punk blast when composing it. “Honestly, at the time, 2024 seemed so far away that I really wondered if we were going to make it that far. »

A song from the band’s past that was about the future, but now about the present, “and it’s strange — in a good way, I mean.” Ah! We managed to make it to 2024! That said, I don’t think it’s time to take stock; turning around to look at how far we’ve come, what we’ve accomplished in fifteen years, that’s not really my thing. But more often than not, when listening to our old albums again, I become critical of our work, saying to myself: “Ah, we could have done that differently, recorded differently.” And I imagine that in a few years I will have a completely different perspective on these same songs. In any case, if I had to do it again 2024I would have imagined it slower, more trippy Also. »

Neon Pill

Cage the Elephant, RCA. The group will play at the Bell Center on August 26.

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