Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Los Angeles, California
Contrary to the rumored explanations that abound like urban myths about one Los Angeles collective’s peculiar name, there is no ‘Edward Sharpe.’ Frontman Alex Ebert insists that the moniker is not an alter ego, that he’s not playing a character. So it is Alex Ebert leading the Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros concerts which are more aptly described as musical love-ins- rapturous, theatrical affairs where it is sometimes hard to discern between the musicians on stage (there are, give or take, 13 of them) and the fans in the crowd, all swaying and singing in a state of joyous euphoria. And it all revolves around impossibly magnetic lead singer Ebert, a madcap rock ‘n roll shaman leading his exuberant troupe through their beatific, intricately embellished psych-folk anthems.
Ebert quashes the rumors that Edward Sharpe is a role he plays by explaining that when it came time to name his new band- a collective of multi-talented musicians culled from his network of friends and acquaintances in LA- his own name, Alex Ebert, felt as though it had become lost. Though Ebert’s life and career had progressed, his own name was still mired in his past. It weighed him down with its associations to things from another life, among them his old band, dance-punk act Ima Robot. According to Ebert, choosing to adopt the new name was actually an avenue back toward himself, rather than an effort to become someone else.
Led by a newly motivated Ebert, he collective of musicians that would become Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros came together in a remarkably organic way- everyone seemed to coincidentally know one another or to be separated by only a few degrees. That natural dynamic quickly propelled them into a year-and-a-half long recording endeavor that bore the band’s breakout debut “Up From Below,” in which nearly all the current members participated. The recording session took place in the Laurel Canyon home studio of Nico Aglietti, an old friend of Ebert’s who now plays guitar in the band and helmed production on the album (along with bassist Aaron Older and Ebert himself.) The communal writing and recording process, in stark contrast to Ebert’s prior M.O. of writing and recording demos while isolated in his apartment, had a profound, bonding effect on the group.
Three months into the recording session, the band took the stage at The Troubadour in their hometown of Los Angeles to play their first show. Something special happened during that virgin performance, and Ebert recalls feeling like the band was definitely on to something. Sure enough, just a few short years later, the initial buzz about Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros has risen to a fever pitch, carrying along with it the adoration of fans from around the world, and a steady showering of accolades from the press.