Walk the Moon joins with Raleigh’s American Aquarium to promote social change

Walk the Moon will take a break from touring with 30 Seconds to Mars and Joywave when the band comes to Raleigh.Brian Ziff

After playing a number of gigs supporting 30 Seconds to Mars this month, Walk the Moon is looking forward to performing a one-off gig Saturday at Red Hat Amphitheater.

“I love being out with 30 Seconds to Mars and Joywave,” bassist Kevin Ray says while calling from Columbus. “Joywave is one of the funniest bands ever. They take me back to the ‘90s with their attitude. They just go for it. 30 Seconds to Mars is amazing in their own right. But yeah, we love having 90-minutes to play our songs. ”

This weekend Ray and his bandmates will headline Band Together NC, a Triangle-based organization that uses live music as a platform for social change.

On June 17, Walk the Moon delivered a 10-song set at a radio show at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ. It was a brief but spirited performance. “We go 100 percent every show,” Ray says. “It doesn’t matter if we play four songs but it’s always a blast playing before our fans. We watch them sing along.”

Walk the Moon fans particularly sing along during “Shut Up and Dance.” Vocalist Nicholas Petricca can just hold his microphone out and let the crowd belt it out. “We appreciate having a hit,” Ray says. “The song was massive.”

Ray isn’t exaggerating. The anthemic cut rested at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart for 27 weeks. More than 3 million copies have been sold, and the smash has been streamed more than a ridiculous 472 million times on Spotify.

“Sometimes I’m asked if we get sick of playing it and my answer is ‘No way,'” Ray says. “I love that people get so excited about the song. I’m thankful how people react when we play ‘Shut Up and Dance.'”

Walk the Moon, which also includes guitarist Eli Maiman and drummer Sean Waugaman, went on hiatus when Petricca’s father became ill in 2016. The band canceled its summer tou,r and after some time passed there was uncertainty about the quartet’s future.

“We didn’t know if the band was going to break up,” Ray acknowledges. “We had no idea what would happen next. I realized when that was happening that we have the best job in the world. We never appreciated it before taking the break because we were so caught up in being in the band. The crazy thing is that we didn’t know that what we really needed was a break. You hear how so many bands break through and then work relentlessly for ten years without taking any time for themselves and then they break up.”

The members of Walk the Moon want longevity. “You look at bands like U2 and whatever they did, they did it right,” Ray says. “We hope to be around for a long time just like them. The great thing is that we all get along and I don’t see why we can’t do this for many years. We never felt so good when we finished off ‘What if Nothing,’ which I believe is where we need to be as musicians.”

Producer Mike Elizondo (Mastodon, Dr. Dre) was behind the board for half of “What if Nothing,” which is Walk the Moon’s latest and fourth album. “I’m a huge fan of Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic,'” Ray says. “It was so cool to play bass in front of a guy who played some of the greatest hip-hop bass lines ever. Mike helped us get heavier, which is what we needed.”

After Walk the Moon completes its tour, the band will work on its next album. “But in the meantime we’re going to enjoy being out with 30 Seconds to Mars and Joywave,” Ray says. “The singer (Daniel Armbruster) from Joywave is hilarious. We’re going to play a few shows this summer and have some laughs with those bands and squeeze in the occasional headliner gig like we’re doing in North Carolina. Before you know it we’ll have recorded an album and we’ll be on tour, which is all we want to do. We just want (to make) music together and play it before our fans. I can’t think of anything better to do.”

Band Together NC featuring Walk the Moon with American Aquarium

Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh
When: Saturday, June 23 7 p.m.
Tickets: $25, $35.50, $45.50, $62.50 and $150.
Info: 919-996-8800, redhatamphitheater.com

About American Aquarium: Raleigh band American Aquarium will open for Walk the Moon at the 2018 Band Together concert. They’re touring in support of their recent album, “Things Change,” which was released June 1. The band, with frontman BJ Barham, has undergone a complete change in lineup, plus other life events.

But Barham told The News & Observer in January that the country-rock band’s album is completely an American Aquarium album. “It’s a big rock and roll record,” he says. “I write extremely chronologically and I write extremely autobiographically. Records for me kind of serve as a 2 1/2 year snapshot of my life since the last record. A lot has changed since the last record, ‘Wolves,’ was recorded in 2014.”

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