The Cold War Kids Prove They Are Full Of Surprises

Emily Grossberg ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

I recently had the privilege of seeing one of my favorite bands the Cold War Kids perform at the House of Blues here in Boston. I spent all week playing them non-stop on my Spotify, belting “Louder Than Ever” and “Miracle Mile” at the top of my lungs while holding a hairbrush and running around the room in an oversized t-shirt. I was pumped.

I was even more pumped when I was able to interview frontman Nathan Willett, who shared with me what it’s like to perform on stage to crowds of adoring fans (like myself).

“I don’t really get nervous,” Willett said about performing in concerts. “I think I want to connect, I want to feel like people are hearing what we’re doing whether it’s through just watching or dancing or moving or some kind of stuff that shows [that I’m] capturing people’s attention.

Willet might be looking to form a connection with his audience, but the band’s performance fell a bit flat when they stopped here in Boston. While there were a lot of people at the House of Blues ready to see the Cold War Kids, it was hardly packed and there was something left to be desired after the show was over. It was a great show, but that rush of adrenaline that usually permeates live indie rock shows seemed to be missing.

There was, however, a silver lining to this all. No one was obnoxiously pushing through the crowd to get to the front and there definitely wasn’t that uncomfortable feeling of someone else’s sweat dripping down my own neck. Instead, everyone seemed to be there to enjoy the band and nobody felt the need to get aggressive about it.

The crowd at the Cold War Kid’s show might stand apart from the typical crowd at an indie rock concert, but the Cold War Kids are anything but typical.  The group was created in California and the members come from all different backgrounds, most of them not music based at all.

“We were friends in college,” said Willett. “We all graduated and started doing different stuff.” In fact, Willett was a substitute teacher for some time and he wasn’t the only one in the band working an interesting day job. “Matt, the bass player…is a graphic designer… we just started getting together and playing, all of us, and just kind of adopted his visual aesthetic.”

As if their day jobs and live shows aren’t unique enough, the Cold War Kids have a sound unlike any other band. Willett’s voice is distinct and almost odd in a way; there is so much emotion in it that it feels as though he’s on the brink of crying every time he sings. The strange combination of off-tempo piano, synthesizer and grooving tunes from the bass give the band an amazing sense of depth and musical range, something that really resonates with their audience.

While Willett told me he didn’t really identify with any other particular group, he does admit that the band’s influences started with groups like The Velvet Underground and The Smiths.

“Early on we started creating this genre of soul punk, you know something that is really soulful but also has kind of a rougher edge to it and I think that’s what it just felt like,” he said.

The Cold War Kids’ popularity has significantly increased over the year, and it’s no surprise why. Even though their show was a bit too laid back and mellow for me at times, that doesn’t mean I won’t gladly pick up my hairbrush again and start doing my best Nathan Willett impression until I hit the right notes of “Lost That Easy.”

The band is currently on tour through November and Willett hopes that there will be no sign of stopping.

“I think we never would have imagined that it would become what it has and that we would still really want a lot more from it,” he said. “So yeah, we can just see it unfold.”

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