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Cage The Elephant learned valuable lessons on latest album

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, May 8, 2016

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Cage The Elephant's last release, 2013's "Melophobia," scored a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. So that put a little pressure on the new "Tell Me I'm Pretty, right?"

Not according to frontman Matt Schultz.

"I don't think so. It definitely wasn't a pressure that was internal," Schultz, 32, says from his home in Nashville. "It wasn't like I wanted to make a record that would get us another Grammy nomination, y'know? If anything, I felt a lot of pressure on myself to NOT be affected by that."

Schultz -- who formed Cage The Elephant during 2006 in Bowling Green, Ky., with his brother Brad and others -- had other goals in mind for "Tell Me I'm Pretty," which came out in December. Produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, it's notably more stripped-down than CTE's three previous efforts, which was by design sonically.

And Schultz also wanted to make his lyrics follow suit.

"I really pushed myself to be more and more transparent," explains Schultz, who recently directed the group's latest video, for the single "Trouble." "A couple years back I heard this Etta James song, 'Almost Persuaded,' where she sings about meeting this man at a party and they sit down and they have a chemistry and she starts to fall for this man. And right before they kiss she catches a glimpse of the wedding ring around her finger. So she's singing this song about facing the temptation of adultery.

"I was just blown away by it, when I heard the punch line of the song, and blown away by the honesty. Ever since then I've just wanted to write songs that felt as genuine and honest and sincere -- which is tough."

Auerbach, Schultz adds, proved to be a valuable ally in that pursuit -- mostly by keeping the singer and the rest of the band from getting too hung up on its mission.

"I learned a lot from Dan," Schultz acknowledges. "He's a very reactionary producer. He's very good at keeping you from getting in your own way or self-sabotaging and knowing when something's done. It's always a struggle to continue to work on something and maybe over-perfect it.

"So he would call things pretty quickly. A lot of songs were one, take, two takes and, 'Yeah, we got it,' which I think helped a lot."

Cage The Elephant, Portugal. The Man and Broncho

Saturday, May 7. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Masonic Temple, 500 Temple Ave., Detroit.

Tickets are $37.50 in advance, $45 day of show.

Call 313-831-7100 or visit detroitmasonic.com or thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.detroitmasonic.com

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