The Return of Matt Shultz’s Beautiful Mind

The Return of Matt Shultz’s Beautiful Mind

Cage the Elephant Share Zoom-Compiled Video for 'Black Madonna'
Cage the Elephant Share Zoom-Compiled Video for ‘Black Madonna’

Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant is able to share the trauma he’s seen. On Neon Capsule, the band’s first album in 5 years, the singer cryptically describes the disorienting results of an unnamed drug on the jaunty, swirling title track:  “Like a loaded gun, my love/I misplaced management of the wheel/Double-crossed by a neon tablet.”

On the floor, the sixth album from these Kentucky rockers appears like one other work of a band on the top of its powers. However Neon Capsule emerged from a three-year interval when the singer was derailed by the negative effects of a prescribed treatment that despatched him into deep misery and psychosis, separating him from actuality and the individuals closest to him. A brand new album was stalled, and his marriage led to divorce.

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“I used to be in psychosis,” Shultz says. “I used to be very terrified always. And from all the things that I can collect, it was fairly unhappy to observe.”

Calling from his house in Nashville, Shultz, 40, appears like a person catching his breath after a devastating, life-changing expertise. Whereas he’s talked overtly up to now about grappling with melancholy, this was one thing very completely different. “That was, with out query, essentially the most tough interval in my life ever,” he says. 

The actuality of his situation bought a lot clearer in January 2023, whereas Shultz was staying on the Bowery Resort in New York Metropolis, the place police arrested the singer for legal possession of loaded firearms. He prevented jail time by pleading responsible to a few weapons prices, and checked right into a hospital for 2 months of remedy, throughout which the brightly coloured unnamed drug that brought about his situation slowly withdrew from his system. That was adopted by six extra months of outpatient care and the psychosis was gone. He says the arrest saved his life.

“Whereas I used to be within the hospital, one of the medical doctors mentioned it is extremely very similar to having your life hijacked, and it actually was,” says Shultz. “Once I got here again to myself, it virtually felt like I used to be popping out of a coma – however I’d had somebody going round and residing in my physique.”

His recollections of that point are surprisingly clear. Shultz remembers “numerous narratives” of being beneath siege from an unknown enemy that have been swirling round in his head and make no sense to him now. 

From the start, he’s at all times been a barely contained wild man within the highlight – stage-diving, crowd-surfing, at instances carrying a gown and fishnets, or in a sleeveless shirt and tie, blowing up in nightclubs, theaters, arenas and on competition phases. Regardless of that onstage vitality, Shultz says issues are normally completely different at house. “I’m fairly quiet, truthfully, away from stage,” he insists. “I’d say I’m fairly tame.”

All of that was immediately in danger, as Shultz struggled together with his situation. 

Whereas the band’s profession in rock has at all times been an journey, Shultz says no matter issues they’d earlier than have been manageable. “I imply, positively not 100% easy, however we’ve had some wonderful moments,” from triumphant performances to Grammys and radio hits.

Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant (Credit score: Neil Krug)

Shultz is grateful to have the band again in motion as a dwell act, the place they constructed a status as an unpredictable drive. “It’s clearly an enormous half of our lives,” he says. “In an odd means, having spent so a few years on the street, typically the street feels extra like house than being at house.”

Now a six-piece, the band consists of Shultz’s older brother, guitarist Brad Shultz, bassist Daniel Tichenor, drummer Jared Champion, and guitarists Nick Bockrath and Matthan Minster. Collectively, Cage the Elephant constructed a big following first from their stage present, and a sound that was euphoric and bittersweet, muscular and soulful.

For Neon Capsule, Cage the Elephant as soon as once more labored with producer John Hill, after their profitable collaboration on 2019’s Grammy-winning Social Cues. With a large palette of artists on his manufacturing resume (FKA Twigs, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sturgill Simpson, Eminem ), Hill’s straight-ahead strategy to collaboration within the studio was simply what Shultz wanted.

“He was one of these particular people who caught by my facet. He’s turn out to be like household,” says Shultz. “One of his superpowers is he doesn’t give unwarranted reward. He’s very unaffected until one thing really feels nice or will get him excited.”

The title track “Neon Capsule” seems on the album principally as initially written, with a number of further traces added to the bridge. “It was very very similar to studying one other particular person’s writings, studying another person’s journal or one thing,” he says now, evaluating the expertise to writing within the third particular person. “Loads of this album ended up feeling like I used to be writing fictional tales as a result of lots of it was primarily based in delusions.”

After all, Cage the Elephant have gone darkish earlier than in each texture and content material, coping with romantic highs and lows, however this one cuts deeper. There may be additionally “Out Loud,” a shifting piano ballad written in reminiscence of his father, who died throughout the pandemic. Like a lot of the album, it quantities to some of Shultz’s most private songwriting. He sings: “Man, I actually tousled now/Too afraid to say it out loud/I can barely breathe, who’m I tryin’ to be?”

As his life and profession come again collectively, Shultz is hopeful concerning the future once more. He and his spouse, Eva Ross, have remarried. And reactions to the brand new album have been optimistic.

“From a extremely younger age, I’d at all times imagined having a lifelong profession. Dream huge, proper? And it’s been tenfold extra fruitful and extra particular than I may have ever dreamed,” he says. “In an odd means, having gone by means of a lot, it’s actually energized us as a band shifting ahead. Yeah, 18 years in and to nonetheless be charming individuals’s imaginations is fairly wonderful, truthfully.”

To see our operating listing of the highest 100 best rock stars of all time, click here.

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