Nestled in the Highland Heights hills, there lives another planet -- The Bamboo Room, producer/manager Erwin Musper's baby, a recording studio true to its name. Made of bamboo, the floors have a yellowish tinge. Not the usual studio darkness. Smooth and spotless.
From Holland, Musper has worked with stars such as David Bowie, Elton John and Van Halen. In August 2007, he recorded 13 tracks for the local Power Pop/Retro Rock band, Walk the Moon. Four songs were chosen for The Anthem EP, songs that rocketed this band to London.
We sit on a leopard print couch. Hanging on the wall, a Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge poster. I want to feed the giant gumball machine a quarter. The light is bright and the room holds unmistakable warmth, as if starlit. Welcome. Move in, there's a fireplace.
Walk the Moon may be a young band, but they've been reaching out across oceans. Recently back from Europe, there's no angst here. Alive and sparked. That's how they roll.
Nicholas Petricca (vocals, keys) started the band in 2006. Wearing flip flops, Petricca's gaze through his glasses is one of spunky certainty.
Petricca, a music major at Kenyon College, says that experience gave him, "the extra knowledge I needed to do what I want. I just got in there and used my ear."
Adam Reifsnyder (bass) has flying saucer eyes. Of WtM's sound, he says, "It's sort of a mix between ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) and Maroon Five."
Sam Cole (guitar) arrives late. On guitar at eight years old, Cole came by it honestly. His Dad plays with The Comet Bluegrass All-stars.
Ricky Human (drums) is M.I.A., but his rhythmic presence lurks in the room somewhere between the whispery words and the golden countertops.
From space-reaching heights to dipping craters, Petricca's string arrangements fuel this band's sound, anchoring the songs, creating a modern, artistic edge. On Anthem, "Stone Cold Fox" is right on. Beginning with strings, it dives into harder, multi-layered Power Pop with hints of Classic Rock, smart melodic changes and crisp vocals. On "Jenny's got a..." Petricca uses catchy, quick lyrics and rhyme. A good ear might note sounds of The Police and the '80s Rock influence buried underneath.
"The songs sort of lead us," Petricca says. "Now I have two keyboards and a really great synth. It's started to characterize what Walk the Moon is."
Last month the band was sponsored by City Showcase-Spotlight London to play at the week-long festival/conference. Walk the Moon was the only artist from North America to perform.
"We had three killer gigs," Petricca says. "One was The Metro Club at the center of London downtown. A great club. Full crowd. I think we knocked them dead."
Cole adds, "It blew me away in a lot of ways. The music scene was amazing and thriving. I was impressed by every band we saw at every show."
"It was nice to get away from the Pop/Punk/Screamo scene that's here (in the States)," Reifsnyder says. "It's definitely more melody-based over there."
In the future, they'd like to play with an orchestra. And do music full force. Petricca says, "The music industry is really changing. A major record deal would be great to have, but it's not the only way. We're sort of pursuing every avenue we can."
"The industry is dead, but the music isn't," adds Musper. "That's a good thing. It's a new territory for everyone. Now you have to do it all yourself."
"But now you can do it all yourself," Petricca interjects.
Smiling faces all around, energy fills The Bamboo Room. A door full of autographs. Framed backstage passes. At any moment, the yellow walls might magically melt, forming into otherworldly creatures. With faces that sing.
WALK THE MOON (myspace.com/walkthemoonband) plays the Mad Frog July 9 and Covington's Molly Malone's on July 11.