Electropop group Capital Cities has had a great couple of years: their hit single “Safe and Sound” from “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery” won in the best visual effects category at the 2013 Video Music Awards, and was nominated for several other awards, including best music video at the Grammy Awards and top rock song at the Billboard Music Awards. The catchy tune has been featured on commercials in the U.S. and internationally, and has hit respectably high numbers on various charts.
However, to hear Sebu Simonian tell it, the climb to fame was slow and steady. One-half of the original Capital Cities duo, Simonian, along with band mate Ryan Merchant, wrote and produced the pop hit. But did the Capital Cities guys know it would be so successful? “I was definitely surprised. It definitely climbed steadily for a long time on random radio stations,” Simonian said in a phone interview.
The band’s rise to stardom has been anything but ordinary. Simonian, whose background is as a trained classical pianist, said his inspiration for lyrics can come from just about anywhere. “There’s no clear agenda,” he said. “Whatever inspires me in the moment dictates what kind of song I write. In most cases we’re just experimenting and trying to do something interesting and engaging.”
And they’ve succeeded. The music video for “Safe and Sound” has had over 132 million views since it was uploaded to YouTube in April of 2013. Simonian and Merchant made an early version of the video several years ago. It incorporates footage of dancers of all styles and from different time periods, some of whom have had Simonian and Merchant’s heads superimposed onto their bodies. “We gathered footage from YouTube and we tried to juxtapose the two worlds,” Simonian said of the video. “It’s all about dancing and cultures getting together and from different eras.”
The band recently finished a leg of Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour as an opener for the eccentric pop star. “It’s a different kind of show,” Simonian said laughing. “But we got to play arenas, which was new to us.”
Capital Cities began a tour of their own Oct. 1, which includes both standard concerts and music festivals. The tour brings the band to the Electric Factory in Philadelphia Oct. 26. When asked what city they’re looking forward to playing the most, “Philadelphia!” is Simonian’s prompt response. “It’s obviously for the cheesesteak,” he said, “but [Philly has] always embraced us.”
As for what to expect from their upcoming show, Simonian said there might be a few surprises. Apart from their music on “In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,” the band hopes to try out a few new tunes on the audience. “We’re going to play some new songs and we hope they are received well,” Simonian said. Capital Cities is currently working on their sophomore album. Right now, he said, they’re still in the experimental stages. “We’re throwing ideas back and forth and developing it as inspiration strikes.”
Night Terrors of 1927, another two-man pop group, will open for Capital Cities. Tickets are currently on sale and are $40.95 each. The Electric Factory show starts at 8 p.m., which is an early enough start time to make sure you get home at the end of the evening safe and sound.