Popular Band Walk The Moon Discuss Their New Album Heights, And Writing Their Hit “Shut Up And Dance”

Walk The Moon
WALK THE MOON (pict. l-r): Eli Maiman, Nicholas Petricca & Sean Waugaman
(photo credit: Grant Spanier)

Since the release of its major label debut album in 2012, Walk The Moon has been an acclaimed, high-energy, pop/rock band that has delivered radio hits as well as more experimental album tracks. Although best known for their platinum hit “Shut Up and Dance” (released in 2014), they have released a consistent flow of unique, upbeat, and entertaining songs during the past decade.

Walk The Moon has recently released three new songs that will be included on their upcoming album, which will be called Heights (on RCA Records). If these three songs are any indication, the band is poised to release a strong new album. Their new single, “Can You Handle My Love?”, is an excellent, joyful song that sounds like a breath of fresh air, especially coming after everyone has experienced 18 months of the pandemic. It’s clear that the band wanted to return with an uptempo, dynamic song that will make people feel good when they hear it. The other two new songs are “Giants” and “I’m Good.”

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Walk The Moon now consists of three members—Nicholas Petruccia (lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizer), Eli Maiman (bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Sean Waugaman (drums, backing vocals). All three members contribute to the songwriting, with Maiman taking a larger role in the lyric writing for the new album.

After self-releasing their first album (called I Want! I Want!) in 2010, the band emerged with their first hit “Anna Sun,” which caught the attention of RCA Records. Then in 2012, they released their second album (Walk The Moon, on RCA), which included “Anna Sun” and their single, “Tightrope.”

It was two years later that Walk The Moon became hugely popular with their global hit, “Shut Up and Dance.” The single was released in 2014, but it remained on the charts for over a year. “Shut Up and Dance” was certified multi-platinum and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, which was a rare achievement for a rock track. Also, the success of “Shut Up and Dance” propelled their album, Talking Is Hard, to platinum status.

For their next album, Walk The Moon released What If Nothing (in 2017). Although it was difficult to follow-up the mega-success of “Shut Up and Dance,” the album featured the #1 alternative hit “One Foot” and the chart single, “Kamikaze.”

Here’s the video of Walk The Moon’s new single, “Can You
Handle My Love?”

Now in 2021, the band has released the single “Can You Handle My Love?” plus two new songs, and they’re eager to get back on the road and launch their tour, called the Dream Plane Tour. The tour kicks off in Tampa, FL on September 21.

Walk The Moon Interview

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Walk The Moon. They discussed the making of their new album, and described what it was like to write songs and record during this Covid era. When asked, they also recalled the funny story of how they wrote their big hit, “Shut Up and Dance.”

DK: I read that you’re from Cincinnati. How did you get started with music and writing songs?

Nicholas Petricca: I started the band during college and had a revolving door of friends, and it wasn’t until Eli and Sean joined in 2010-11, that we really solidified. That’s when we released “Anna Sun,” and we made the music video for “Anna Sun” with our friends and our community, and it got picked up by indie blogs and that sort of thing. Then the next year, we were signed and making our first major label record. We came out of the indie music scene in Cincinnati. It was like a melting pot…all these different bands were coming through. We were booking our own tours in little bars and clubs, in outdoor malls (laughs), and anywhere we could around the Midwest and Northeast. It was a cool time to come up in indie rock.

DK: You released an album independently, and then you signed with RCA Records. Can you talk about the band’s early years?

Petricca: When we were making the first RCA album, we were taking our indie record and bringing it to life again, adding some new songs. Really, the band had already created such a world within itself. Somehow, Walk The Moon had this childlike, magical world that was captured in those early songs. And we were fortunate that our label was like…”Go do more of your thing.” They supported us to keep that spirit alive, and I think we did. I was really happy with our first record, and I feel our new album is in some ways returning to some of that original flavor.

Here’s the audio of Walk The Moon’s new song, “Giants.”

DK: In 2014, you released your Talking Is Hard album, which had the big hit, “Shut Up and Dance.” What’s the story behind how you wrote that song?

Petricca: There’s a story that goes along with the lyric. We were writing the tune in Los Angeles, and I think we had Eli’s guitar riff, and we had this epic feeling…this epic sound but no chorus. So that night, I went home frustrated, and feeling like I hadn’t cracked the code. Then I went out to a dance club that my girlfriend and I would frequent, where they played this funky dance music. And I was a grump, waiting to get a drink and kind of being an asshole. Then she was like, “Just shut up and dance with me” (laughs). And I freaked out and went home and wrote the chorus, and the song became what it became.

DK: “Shut Up and Dance” was popular for several years. What was it like having the song out, and touring and playing bigger venues and knowing everybody loved the song?

Eli Maiman: It was a magical time and overwhelming, too. We got to play a lot of places that music was the only way that we would ever end up there. This music took us all over the world. I remember in the beginning of 2016, we did 22 countries in two months. And what a blur (laughs) and an epic experience to have. So we’re grateful to have had all of these experiences. And of course, it set us up to make more music, which is the dream to be able to continue doing this thing that we love.

DK: I liked your follow-up album What If Nothing, particularly your songs “One Foot,” “Press Restart” and “All I Want.” Can you talk about the making of this album?

Maiman: The question we got a lot during that time was, “How do you follow ‘Shut Up And Dance’?” Which was maybe not a question in our minds until other people put it there (laughs). But once it’s there, it hangs out in the room with you all the time. Ultimately, we decided the thing to do was to think about that as little as possible, and just do what was coming naturally to us, and what was coming from our hearts. So that was the most important thing to us during that time. [What If Nothing] was a record full of polar opposite experiences, because we got to work with amazing producers in amazing studios. But at the same time, Nick was going through what was one of the hardest experiences of his life.

Here’s the video of Walk The Moon’s hit, “Shut Up and Dance.”

Petricca: Yeah, my dad had Alzheimer’s for many years, and he was nearing the end of his journey, and he ended up passing away just before we finished recording. It was all happening right then, so it was a mixed time.

DK: I like your new single, “Can You Handle My Love?” It sounds so fun and upbeat, with great energy. What inspired you to write this song?

Petricca: Thank you. We wrote that song right before everything started shutting down. I see this song as this self-love anthem, even though it’s from the perspective of meeting someone new, and hoping that they like you, too. I think that everybody in the whole world in one way or another, is going through this experience together and there’s something about this theme that shows up on our record and that’s present for us right now. We’re coming into this greater understanding, acceptance of who we are and celebrating the totality (laughs) of who we be. There’s something about that…there’s a universal empowerment that lives there, where everyone has their unique journey and everyone is individual, but we all go through the same things. It’s about the possibilities and insecurities and being a total mess, and just wanting to have a good time. So I think in some ways it’s one of the most universal tunes that we’ve got.

DK: I read that during the past 18 months of the pandemic, you wrote and recorded some of the songs remotely. What has the past 18 months been like for you and the band, making your album?

Maiman: You know, being able to make a record at home is charming and has its advantages, because we would do these sessions on Zoom and we would cut the guitars, all together. We would do what we needed, and we’d sign off. Then once we signed off, I might have this other idea. I could tinker with it by myself, and really go deep without being on the clock. The challenge became editing, because we had a lot of materials to go through on every song. But I think the record is richer in texture because of it. The songs are deeper sonically, because we have the ability to be in our own space and on our own time frame.

DK: I read that you’ll be releasing your new album, called Heights, this fall. Can you talk about your new album?

Here’s the audio of Walk The Moon’s new song, “I’m Good.”

Petricca: These first three songs we put out—“Can You Handle My Love?”, “Giants” and “I’m Good”—they’re the first songs from the album which will come out later this year. I think it’s my favorite album that we’ve made…it’s the best of all our skills put together. We’re expanding our horizons a bit. Eli has written more lyrics on this record, and I did some producing. And we’ve done some collaborations on this record. For instance, on “Can You Handle My Love?” we collaborated with K.Flay, who’s an amazing artist and writer that we love. I think there’s going to be a lot of surprises on the album, and it’s a coming home to the O.G. – Walk The Moon spirit.

There’s also an epic collaboration on this album, with Johnny Clegg. He’s a famous, historic South African artist who passed away in the last couple years. We got to create a song with him and his son, who’s also an artist. It’s a special honor to have one of his last efforts be on our record.

DK: I read that you’ll be launching your new tour soon, called the Dream Plane Tour. Can you tell me about your new tour?

Maiman: It’s very exciting to be heading out on the road after being in our homes so much the past 18 months. We’re excited to get back out there and play shows and connect with the fans again. We’re working on a setlist now, which is fun and challenging, because at this point of our career, four albums in, we’ve got a lot of songs. So I’m looking forward to creating a career-spanning experience for the fans. It’s gonna be magic.

Here’s the link to Walk The Moon’s site: https://www.walkthemoon.com/

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima