Cage the Elephant’s Matt Shultz on ‘Neon Tablet’, the band’s new album : NPR

NPR’s Scott Simon talks to Matt Shultz, frontman for the band Cage the Elephant, about reassessing one’s actuality and his band’s new album, “Neon Tablet”.


CAGE THE ELEPHANT: (Singing) Metaverse fallout, there’s actually no rush now.


When Cage the Elephant fashioned in 2006, there was no Spotify, no TikTok music stars. Folks nonetheless purchased what they referred to as CDs. Good (ph) rock additionally dominated then, and with its sixth file, “Neon Tablet,” the band revisits that sound on the early aughts.


CAGE THE ELEPHANT: (Singing) Once you received no perspective. Daily spent removed from my household. Double examine, checked out, I am half asleep. What the hell? Oh, effectively, that is life. What the hell? I maintain operating and operating.

SIMON: Matt Shultz is the lead singer of the Kentucky band. He joins us now from Nashville. Mr. Shultz, thanks a lot for being with us.

MATT SHULTZ: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Properly, let me ask you about that riff. What is the metaverse to you?

SHULTZ: It is an attention-grabbing track. It is one of many first songs the place we have opened up the music to collaborate on. And there is an artist out of New York who goes by Danny Switchblade. He put collectively a combination tape and despatched it over. And lyrically, it is type of like this – I do not know if I would say a coming-of-age, but it surely’s a track of being on this journey and discovering your self inside that despite any turbulent occasions in between.

SIMON: Properly, then let’s get to the title monitor on this album, “Neon Tablet.”


CAGE THE ELEPHANT: (Singing) It is a hit-and-run, oh no, double-crossed by a neon capsule. Like a loaded gun, my love, I misplaced management of the wheel. Double-crossed by a neon capsule.

SIMON: I received to ask once you sang, I misplaced management of the wheel, you imply, you misplaced management of the wheel?

SHULTZ: Yeah. I had been prescribed a drugs – or maybe it was the pairing of medicines – induced me to enter psychosis. And I used to be in psychosis for someplace round 4 years, unknowingly. I imply, most – many people who find themselves in psychosis do not know. There isn’t any actual rational pondering happening. But it surely was terrifying. That track, really, I wrote a few 12 months earlier than my arrest in New York and hospitalization.

SIMON: We should always clarify you have been arrested on a gun cost in New York.

SHULTZ: Yeah. So I wrote it as a result of I used to be satisfied somebody was really tampering with my treatment and attempting to poison me. It is very unhappy as a result of it is so near the reality however not fairly there. It is virtually like I knew one thing was flawed and that it was the treatment, however I could not fairly put my finger on it.

And I am very remorseful for what occurred, however whereas in psychosis, it exasperates any paranoias, can convey on delusions. And so, for myself, there was some extraordinarily intricate narratives that I believed that had no foundation in actuality. And it was terrifying. It was actually like being in a horror movie nonstop and being unable to flee from it.

SIMON: How a lot of this album was written throughout your time in psychosis?

SHULTZ: I imply, the vast majority of the music was written over that four-year time frame. One of many extra fascinating facets to the file was going again to the fabric, reengaging with it as soon as I had gotten effectively into my restoration. And for myself, attempting to decipher and interpret the lyrics that, on the time once I was writing them, had a really profound that means to me – however that that that means had no foundation in actuality. And so in a number of the songs, what I needed to do was search for the sentiment or the emotional expression that was – that I used to be attempting to speak at the moment after which work off of that.

SIMON: Let’s hear to a different track on this album, if we might, “Out Loud.”


CAGE THE ELEPHANT: (Singing) Clipped these wings, and I got here again residence. Tried my finest simply to hold on. Stick-and-poke tattoos meant nothin’ to me, so far as east to west and never a reminiscence. Man, I actually tousled now. Too afraid to say it out loud. I can barely breathe. Who am I tryin’ to be? I am nonetheless tryin’ to determine it out. Am I too proud to say it out loud?

SIMON: Why do you set such deeply private ideas and even mortifying ideas into a chunk of music you need folks to listen to?

SHULTZ: Whereas it’s a very communal factor that we apply, it is also a factor that is to be executed that is very a lot for the person, as effectively. And I do not suppose if I hadn’t been as trustworthy as I used to be within the music, I might be the place I’m right this moment. I believe it was mandatory.

SIMON: And once you discuss going again residence – sing about going again residence, is it a spot? Is it a way of thinking? What’s it?

SHULTZ: My father handed away throughout the pandemic. We have been lucky sufficient, blessed sufficient to know that his passing was coming, and we have been in a position to have some actually stunning time to spend with one another there on the finish. And he had shared a narrative with me.

When he was in his younger 20s, he was working in development for his father, and so they had gotten in a really unhealthy dispute. And he advised his father he’d by no means converse with him once more and that night time hitchhiked to Florida after which lived in Florida for a few 12 months and did not converse to his father in any respect. And whereas he was in Florida, he wrote a track to his father as, like, an apology. He was very lonely, and so he wrote a track, hitchhiked again to Kentucky. And earlier than even talking, performed the track for his father.

And I used to be actually moved by it and needed to…

SIMON: Yeah.

SHULTZ: …Write a track about that. And it very a lot mirrors what occurred to me. And it is very a lot part of me. It is in all probability extra about me and what was occurring with me than my father. I imply, I even say within the track, am I too proud to say it out loud?


SIMON: Cage the Elephant’s final two albums every gained finest rock album on the Grammys. What adjustments with a band’s success?

SHULTZ: I really feel like we have been very blessed to not get into a spot the place we’re writing to achieve accolades or awards or something like that. It is clearly an amazing blessing and really welcome if it does occur. However once we’re writing the music, we have been in a position to preserve a posture that is very way more for capturing one thing that is actual and genuine and pushing very laborious for that.


SIMON: Along with entertaining, enthralling and incomes cash, do you hope this album can imply one thing to folks?

SHULTZ: I imply, in some methods, it is just about all I’ve. I hope that my life is an encouragement to others. And I undoubtedly hope the music speaks to folks in a manner that it spoke to me once I actually wanted to precise some deep issues.


SIMON: Matt Shultz is the lead singer of Cage the Elephant – their new album, “Neon Tablet, ” out now. Mr. Shultz, thanks a lot for being with us.

SHULTZ: Thanks for having me. I actually respect it.


CAGE THE ELEPHANT: (Singing) Keys to the ball and chain.

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