Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, who play this weekend at the Red Stripe Midsummer Music & Food Festival in Candler Park, had to face some changes after the group’s successful first CD.
The CD, “Up From Below,” featured the single “Home,” which got widespread exposure in commercials, movies and television shows. And the band’s joyous, crowd-participatory performances had attracted a large following.
LISTEN: The official video for "Home."
The success could have given frontman Alex Ebert confidence heading into the Zeros’ second album, the recently released “Here.” But the band dynamic had changed in significant ways since its first release.
Two key members, guitarist/keyboardist Nico Aglietta and keyboardist Aaron Embry, left the group.
It took making the second album for the players to regain some momentum, Ebert said.
“I’d rather not talk about why they left exactly, but it was just sort of a part of the process, I suppose,” he said. “Whenever things feel like they’re crumbling and you’ve been working really hard at something for a long time, and the feeling of it is getting a little wearisome, you start to question exactly what you’re doing and where is this going. And I think that we all had probably, maybe not all of us … have a moment of sort of repose where you’re allowing the question to sit with yourself for a second.
“I felt we were all kind of having that teetering moment to some degree or other. Then everyone had been touring for so long, that even the idea of going up to Ojai (Calif.) to record the album did not sound good to a lot of the guys.”
“You had this sort of feeling of where is the commitment level exactly?” Ebert said.
But Ebert and the other members moved forward, and in doing “Here,” the Zeros evolved again into a collaborative unit.
For “Here,” Ebert had a few demos of new songs, but for the most part, he involved the band in finishing the list. The other members are Jade Castrinos (vocals/guitar), Stewart Cole (horns/keyboards), Josh Collazo (drums), Orpheo McCord (percussion), Nora Kirkpatrick (accordion), Chrisitan Letts (guitar), Seth Ford-Young (bass), plus two musicians who joined the lineup last spring, Mark Noseworthy (guitar) and Aaron Arntz (piano).
“For the most part we sat down and worked out arrangements and put in the time that you put in when you’re doing things together,” Ebert said.
Things went so well, in fact, that the recording sessions will generate two albums — “Here” followed by a second CD, a self-titled release, which will arrive July 23.
“They’re a nice complement to each other,” Ebert said. “ ‘Here’ is, to me, pretty meditative and sort of speaking from a place of being, and the next one is sort of a little bit more … aggressive, I suppose, and has a little bit more of a sort of ambitious, adventuresome sort of quality.”
Ebert said the group continues to do what it did in touring behind “Up From Below,” which helped develop the band’s enthusiastic following. It changes set lists, explores new ways of playing the songs and tries to turn each concert into a transcendent experience for the audience.
“I think night to night it is sort of an adventure because those moments, the map for getting there to that sort of explosive, transcendent moment, can be written down, but to actually put it into three-dimensional action, a confluence of energy has to happen,” Ebert said. “So from night to night it happens in different ways. … It’s all just an interplay.”
The group, Ebert said, has become good at consistently creating the kind of communal excitement the band wants to achieve, frequently even allowing varying numbers of fans on stage during shows to join in the fun.
“Yeah, stuff has been broken and all that,” Ebert said, mentioning one of the problems that goes with letting fans get on stage. “But I think the overall, beyond just the fun of it, is the importance of sort of remembering that the divide, (we’re) endeavoring to break the divide between us and them, and that’s one way to do it.”
4–11 p.m. Friday, June 14, food trucks and artist market. Noon-11 p.m. Saturday, June 15, music and food. $5 Friday and before 5 p.m. Saturday. $10 after 5 p.m. Saturday.
Friday musical lineup: 4 p.m. Neil Cribbs; 7 p.m. Reynolds & Williams Band; 9 p.m. Coy Bowles (of Zac Brown Band).
Saturday musical lineup: 12:30 p.m. Webster Humpage; 2 p.m. Stokeswood; 3:30 p.m. Connor Christian & Southern Gothic; 5:15 p.m. The Whiskey Gentry; 7 p.m. The Soul Rebels; 8:45 p.m. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.