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Edward Sharpe and the MagneticZeros

Ever since getting together as a group of friends who love to play music in 2007, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have enchanted listeners with their fun-loving exuberance. A ten piece (give or take) ensemble, this Los Angeles based group have had us craving our next hit of jangling joyful songs since their 2009 debut album, Up From Below, featuring infectious hits including Home and 40 Day Dream.

In Louisiana to record their follow-up album, band member Christian Letts took some time out from recording music and listening to cicadas in Louisiana to have a chat with FasterLouder. A gracious musician who is all about being honest and sharing the love, Letts got talking about why he enjoys playing to Aussie audiences so much, as he will be doing very soon for Big Day Out and a collection of sideshows. The conversation ventured into the delights of recording and writing music with so many collaborators, Letts’ life-long penchant for hip-hop, and getting into trouble for trading his toys for records as a six year old.

You were here in Australia earlier this year, but for this tour you’ll be playing Big Day Out. What are your expectations for playing in Australia this time around?
Man last time we were there I had the time of my life. There’s just a different kind of way of life out there, the people were really friendly and we met the nicest people wherever we went. People really love music and want to have a good time out there and so I’m hoping for the same thing. I’m sure I’ll get my mind blown even more than I had before.

Do you find playing live a different experience in Australia?
Yeah playing live anywhere is different. It’s a very surreal thing to go from Los Angeles, getting out of the studio apartment where we’ve been recording, to going to Australia where people know the words to the songs that we wrote. It just makes me feel very humble and very blessed and very fortunate. And it’s cool to travel so far away and having people singing along to every word, it’s incredible.

How do you feel about being lined up alongside such different acts to your own, including Iggy and the Stooges and Tool?
It’s awesome, we heard a lot about Big Day Out when we were last out there so it’s great to be a part of it.

So are there any musicians, Australian or international, that you’re particularly excited about seeing at the festival?
Actually I don’t know the whole lineup off hand. Are Mumford and Sons playing? I think they are. I think they’re fucking awesome and the nicest dudes on top of it which always makes music better for me.

Any Aussie acts that you’re particularly enjoying at the moment?
Yes, I think they’re from Australia, they’re called Middle East. We got to meet them over at a festival recently and a friend of mine Danny had told me about them and I thought they were great.

Countless reviews rave about the vibrancy of your live gigs. How do you think you manage to create such uplifting and energetic music?
By being very honest. Not trying to posture or pose as anything but what we are. And also trying to get away from that being the band and that being the audience, there’s none of that. We’re all just one collective here creating this moment and every person in it is just as important as the other, to make that happen. And really respecting that and loving that.

You are also all friends, so that must be an influence on how you interact?
Yeah, Alex and I have been friends since we were three, best friends since we were three. He’s the first guy I met when I moved from London to California and when I went to pre-school he was the first guy I met. It’s a really special thing for me to be doing this with such a great friend of mine. The drummer and I have known each other for about eighteen, nineteen years now. It’s just like a collection of groups of old friends that kind of came together to make one family.

Having started off your music career in smaller groups, how has the music making experience changed since joining an eleven piece ensemble?
Endless opportunities. Endless voices and you know there are so many different musical tastes and backgrounds involved with ten people. These ideas come out that I would never have thought of, but Josh has or somebody else has. It really lends itself to endless possibilities and not getting stuck.

Yeah, I mean you would have so many people to bounce ideas off, it must be great. And how does being in such a big group influence your touring experience?
This is literally the first real band that I’ve been in that really toured like this. I’ve been in smaller groups that did short runs, you know. This is my first real experience of touring with a band. I don’t really know any different and I love it.

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