Though writing a rock song might be an intellectual pursuit, Cage the Elephant singer Matt Schultz believes gauging its success is instinctual.
The Kentucky act, best known for its seems-to-be-everywhere single Ain't No Rest for the Wicked , performed Monday before a sold-out crowd at Sky City.
"You try to put your best foot forward and do your best," Schultz said in a telephone interview. "But, in the end, it always has to be something that just feels right. That's where music comes from. Initially, it was something that was just done."
What felt right for Schultz was a record that incorporated the many musical interests shared by him and his brother Brad, who plays guitar in the band. There are elements of punk and Nuggets-era garage, and more than a little psychedelic blues, the byproduct of endless hours listening to Jimi Hendrix. Schultz said the breadth of influences made the goals for the band's self-titled debut pretty clear.
"We wanted to make a rock and roll record we loved," he said. "It's our only ambition."
Love is not a word Schultz takes lightly. An admitted obsessive, he said everything that matters to him he either obsessively loves or hates. Musically, he's not at all interested in the gray area between.
"I have to have that obsession," he said. "I have to have that passion. It just has to feel right."
Growing up in Bowling Green, Ky., Schultz and his brother developed musical obsessions growing up not only in the same house, but also in the same bedroom. He said that while being in a band with his brother has caused familial tension, the chemistry and commonalities the pair share are also the foundation of the Elephant sound.
"We grew up close in a very small apartment," he said. "Our beds were right next to each other and, yeah, we've had our ups and downs. But for me, this is a positive."
Schultz said the habits formed in that bedroom stay with him. He said he's as obsessive about listening to music as he is making it.
"If you don't listen, I just don't know how you can make music," he said. "It just won't come from that pure place, and if you can't be spontaneous, you can't be creative."