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Brad Shultz of Cage The Elephant talks social distancing: ‘We’re going to play it on the safe side’

Matthew Shultz and Brad Shultz of Cage The Elephant at The Current in 2016. (Leah Garaas/MPR)

The Current hosts have been checking in with various artists throughout this extended quarantine period to see how they are holding up, and how this global pandemic has been affecting them. Jade caught up with Cage The Elephant guitarist Brad Shultz to chat about the new normal, including spending time with family at home in Nashville, staying creative and resourceful in isolation, and how Cage The Elephant’s music has redefined itself for the current times.

Jade: Brad, how are you doing? 

Brad Shultz: Good, I was just brushing my teeth for the first time today. Don’t judge me, but I’ve literally been going to bed at 6:00 a.m. and waking up at 1:00 p.m. and lounging around the house for a little bit.

Why the late night schedule? Are you used to being on tour or is this the new normal for you?

A little bit of both. I usually stay up pretty late. I’m just a night owl, but I have parlayed coming out of tour, [on] which I’m even more of a night owl, into…I got home, and all the quarantine stuff started, and me and my wife have a newborn. It’s a little tougher than with our first child. She would sleep throughout the whole night. He wanted to wake up every two and a half hours to eat. He loves food. Since I’m already on a late night schedule, I’ll just stay up, and I’ll night train him, so he went through Daddy’s boot camp.

I’ll say that I’m looking at all the blessings through all the tough times. I love to tour, but you don’t get as much family time, so I’ve just been soaking up a lot of the family time. I’m really thankful that we have the comforts in life that we have. We have food. We have a roof over our head. We have a happy family, and we’re all healthy at this point. We’re really focusing on all that stuff, and trying to keep everyone healthy by doing the social distance dance and sticking to it as long as we can. I think we’re on week number six right now, as far as our family.

It’s kind of tough because the governor has just put an early call to open up, which we don’t necessarily agree with, but the mayor has refuted those actions, so that’s good. I don’t know how much that’s going to do for people that are on the edge of their seats, that want to go ahead and get out, but I think as far as our family goes, we’re going to play it on the safe side and try to do this as long as we possibly can.

What’s the Cage The Elephant plan? Have you guys been talking at all? I know you wrapped up tour, but there were a couple of big festivals lined up for you.

We’ve been using the time as wisely as we can, writing songs. We all have our little demo [studios] set up at home, so we’ve been writing songs and doing different collaborations with people. Matt [Shultz] has been making a music video for “Black Madonna” that will be coming out fairly soon. It’s a fully quarantined video. The whole crew was him and my cousin, Cain. They’ve been in quarantine together. I’m really excited about it.

Do you ever miss each other and get on Zoom or whatever video app you use just to chit chat and mess with each other as if you still are on tour?

We just do personal FaceTime calls and stuff. We haven’t done a group Zoom or anything. I did, however, do a group Zoom with my entire mom’s side of the family. She has nine brothers and sisters, and I think each one of those families average about three kids. It was insane in the best way possible, because my family is scattered all across the country. It was very good to see everyone, but it was hilarious.

I saw something online about you guys releasing a special edition T-shirt to help support your crew members. I think that is very cool, so can you tell us a little bit about that?

Yeah. We wanted to start with our crew because they work so hard, not only for us, but for everyone that comes to our shows. They’re the reason why we have all the bells and whistles, and the reason we have good sound out front. We show up and get on stage and play a show. Everybody else does the hard work. All those people are out of a job right now. Luckily, we were able to get our merch company, Blackout, to waive all their fees as well, and we all came together to do something special for our crew.

Is there a song of Cage The Elephant’s that could maybe give people some inspiration and hope?

I think that our last record, Social Cues, has redefined itself with the times. When we were writing the record, we were going through a lot of personal struggle and strife in several different ways, with friends passing away, with family members passing away, and Matt’s relationship kind of deteriorating. It was very much about dealing with those sorts of things, and self-isolation. It’s weird how that whole record has evolved and now, to me, it’s so relative to what is going on in our lives again. One song that probably doesn’t [feel relative] is “Come a Little Closer.” Maybe people need to stay away from that a little bit.

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