With the wind nearly blowing the phone from  Eli Maiman’s  ear, Emily Mullen has a chat with the Walk The Moon guitarist  about face-painting, musical experiences and ‘80s influences

Eli Maiman is on the other end of a crackly phone line. His enthusiasm for just about everything is evident in his slow drawl despite the difficult interview conditions. It is difficult to discern what Maiman’s saying and a string of educated guesses have to be made when the line sounds quiet-ish. This culminates in an astounding amount of slightly patronising “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” with a sprinkling of laughter for what seems like joke-making when Maiman’s voice sounds somewhat high. This could be the wind as Maiman eventually gets a bit pissed off and curtly says: “You just keep laughing when I answer a question, what’s your problem?” Yes, the best impression wasn’t made on Walk The Moon’s guitarist, that’s for sure.

The band’s name is taken from The Police song ‘Walking on the Moon’.  This rather direct ‘80s influence is one that still has an effect upon the band. “It’s the music that we are drawn to, the melodies, the hooks and everything . The music that you listen to when you are 18 becomes the music that you listen to for your whole life somehow, and that’s what happened with us.” The band had several changes before bassist Kevin Ray, drummer Sean Waugaman, and lead singer Nicholas Petricca joined our friend Maiman and became the steadfast members of Walk The Moon. “Nick started the band after he left college, and tried lots of different combinations before we all came together and it just felt right and we clicked,” explains Maiman. “We speak the same musical language, which helps in creative situations.”

Slightly spodgy luminous face-paint has fast become ubiquitous with the happy-clappy indie band, and to Maiman the vivid hues are symbolic of the effect his music has upon his fans: “Visuals are huge during performances. The face painting started from the ‘Anna Sun’ music video, so it was just an accident but fans have just started coming to gigs with face paint and they are just so enthusiastic about it. It is a cool way to connect with everybody in a communal way, to visually represent this group experience that we are all having together.”

This rush of emotion is something that the band’s live performances provide to its audiences, raw simplistic emotions of happiness and hope. “The fans started it, it’s not like we had a team of marketing strategists that started it, it was just a happy accident!” says Maiman. This spontaneous donning of vivid hues ties is perhaps a reactionary act of release for the audience, one that Maiman supports: “I mean we are just a band, just four lucky guys, who get to make music every day. But we are lucky enough to have a job that helps us work out our demons, and deal with the stuff that frustrates us. Through us dealing with our own problems it helps others to do the same, to find a release from whatever is bothering them.”

Following the release of two self-released EPs, consisting of 2009’s The Other Side: B-Sides and Rarities and 2010’s I Want! I Want!, the band were signed to RCA and released their self-titled debut. The adjustment from self-releasing to working with a major label was a relatively smooth one. “It was way different, with self-releases you make it happen when you have the money to do it, you work on it in little bits you record in garages, in living rooms,  in churches and you get it done piece by piece. Whereas when you are working with a major label, there is a serious strategy to the whole thing. There is marketing done before the release date, it is done in a thought out intelligent way, as opposed to just flailing about like the way we had done it before when we were an independent act. It’s a significantly different process but no less satisfying.” Despite the positive experience that the band eventually had upon finally involving itself with a label, Walk The Moon were daunted by the process beforehand: “We grew up watching documentaries about how bands from the ‘80s got completely screwed by major labels and yeah we were reluctant to enter into a deal at the start.”

Leaving behind the youthfulness of the previous album, those oh so repeated lyrics of “I was up against the wall on the west mezzanine, we rattle this town, we rattle this scene,” Maiman asserts that the next album will be a progression and a reflection on how they have evolved. “I think a lot of the album that is out right now was written during that late college period in our lives, and for a lot of people that time is a period of uncertainty and nostalgia. I don’t think we have much time for being nostalgic and I think the next record will definitely head in a very different direction.”

Despite the miscommunication and accidental rudeness, Maiman is still excited about performing in The Academy, although it could be the prospect of punching Otwo in the face mid-performance. You can’t blame him really.

Walk The Moon play The Academy on February 22nd and their EP Tightrope is out now.