With all the bouncing, whirling and smiling, it’s not hard to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are having a good time on stage. Floored by the band’s wall of sound, audience members often aren’t far behind. After all, having fun is infectious.
The 10 members of the Los Angeles-based group will march into MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa May 23 before launching into a four-month summer tour. The band will also release a new self-titled album July 23. The band’s accordionist Nora Kirkpatrick, who is also an actress, took a few minutes to speak with Lake Tahoe Action.
Q: You were one of the early members of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Can you tell me how the band formed?
Kirkpatrick: Alex had written a bunch of demos in his bedroom. Then, he came to a place where he wanted to start recording them and playing them live. He started asking friends of friends to come together.
The sound he had written was a very big sound and needed at least 10 people. I had met Jade and Alex through friends at Burning Man. I joined up during the recording of the first album.
Q: Are you an annual burner or did you just go once?
Kirkpatrick: That was the only time I’ve ever been. I thought it was great. It’s kind of an intense commitment, so you’ve got to be ready for it.
Q: Frontman Alex Ebert has his persona in Edward Sharpe. Do you have an alter ego or an assumed character on stage?
Kirkpatrick: No, not that I know of. I wouldn’t say I have an alter ego. I wouldn’t say Alex has an alter ego. I don’t think he becomes another person. I’d say he was writing a story and (the band name) is based on an element of that story. I think we’re all pretty focused on getting to the core of our true selves, rather than putting on different masks all the time.
Q: But you do a lot of acting— including a running appearance on The Office as Dwight’s girlfriend— in addition to your music career. Is it difficult to balance both?
Kirkpatrick: Yes, it is. I’ve definitely had to turn down roles and I’ve missed a tour along the way. But I try to do my best because I can’t really imagine my life without one or the other. Although, I know I’m making sacrifices at both ends, it’s kind of a problem I’m willing to deal with.
Q: Your last album was incredibly well received. It’s now on radio and television commercials. Do the outlets that want to obtain your music surprise you?
I was surprised that certain people were listening to our music, like the NFL. It’s great to hear though. It’s very cinematic music, so I can understand why it works. They’re storytelling songs.
Q: What can you tell us about the upcoming album?
Kirkpatrick: It’s amazing. It’s very rambunctious. Our last album was pretty folky. This album is a bit crazier. There’s a lot going on. The sound is humongous. It’s going to be a great, great album. I’m really proud of this one.
Q: Your last album had a huge reach. Do you think this album is as accessible to such a wide range of people?
Kirkpatrick: It’s not a totally different sound or anything. It’s still us. It’s not like we switched genres. It just answers a few more questions. It expands a bit more. We didn’t make a conscious effort to change anything. It just happened to go this way.
Q: Switching gears, your Twitter feed (@NoraKirkpatrick) is really funny. Do you listen to a lot of National Public Radio? What show would you like to host or be on?
Kirkpatrick: I do. I’m like a This American Life, NPR devotee. Kajon Cermac, who does the traffic in LA on NPR, retweeted one of my tweets. That was a big day for me. I was like, “Someone on NPR knows who I am.”
I would love to do Morning Becomes Eclectic. This American Life is one of my favorite things about this world. If I could be on This American Life, I could die happy.
Q: It seems like you guys have so much fun on tour. What are some of the moments that have stood out?
Kirkpatrick: We really do. We’re really lucky. Just the other day, we were in Moab and we had the day off. We wanted to shoot some video for an upcoming video. We rented four off-roading Jeeps. Granted, none of us know how to do this. We don’t know how to off road. We live in LA.
There were fourteen of us. We drove by ourselves through the desert of Moab in these crazy Jeeps for hours and hours and hours. We’d see these huge sand dunes, park the Jeeps, and everyone would run to the top and roll down. We filmed it.
We had such a good time. We had no idea what we were doing or where we were going. But we were kind of trying to make a video at the same time. I bet this video will turn out really amazing because we had no plans. We just had a day off in the desert and we were like ‘let’s figure that out.’
We’re very adventuresome. Everyone is so different and they have such different interests. You find yourself learning so much all the time. It’s like you get to take a master’s class in what ever Orpheo (drummer) is into for the day. Or it will be like somebody’s getting into painting, teach me about that and I’ll show you about photography. Everyone is getting into such exciting things all the time.
There are downfalls to having such a big band. But I would say for the most part it’s a real, real blessing. It makes traveling so much more fun.
Q: The band seems very family like.
Kirkpatrick: It’s a family vibe and it’s also our job. We get to make beautiful music and inspire ourselves and hopefully inspire other people for our living. That’s an amazing thing. Also, we get to surround ourselves with an incredible group of people that teaches you so much about life and being a person and a friend. It’s definitely a family.
Q: But just like with any family, there are tough times though, right?
Kirkpatrick: For sure. Nothing can be hunky-dory all the time. We’re about to go on a four-month tour. I guarantee somewhere along the line we’re all going to be homesick and tired. It’s not all fun and games. But we take those peaks and valleys and know that the other end is coming. For every hard moment, there’s an equally and greater beautiful moment. When we’re on stage playing, that’s the pinnacle. It’s tough to be gone that long, you know? But it’s worth it.