What If Nothing
Walk the Moon lit up the pop world in 2014 with "Shut Up and Dance," a giddy love song that's become a staple of baseball-stadium dance-cam breaks and sweaty parties thanks to its anthemic, commanding chorus and jittery, Eighties-inflected feel. With their new record What If Nothing, the Cincinnati-based band is ready to show fans what else it can do.
"Obviously ["Shut Up And Dance"] spread us around the globe, but it also created an interesting… luxury problem for us," says frontman Nicholas Petricca via phone from Los Angeles. "We were faced with this opportunity to redefine and reestablish ourselves as a rock & roll band, and as being more than what that song puts forth."
What If Nothing, the group's third album (out Nov. 10th), came after a period of tumult. After calling off their summer 2016 tour in the wake of Petricca's father falling ill, they took a break for the first time in years.
"It was a complicated time," Petricca tells Rolling Stone. "We had a lot of mixed feelings about canceling the tour, because that's something we never, ever wanted to do. But with my dad's illness, it just wasn't an option for me to be out any longer. The time we took apart was really the first time we had done that in years – we'd been together on the road almost 300 days a year, every year.
"In our time apart, we realized there had been some tensions between us. There was a lot to navigate before we could really come back together and make music," he continues.
Walk the Moon reconvened last October at a recording studio in Austin, and their creative process was chaotic. "The approach was just making noise, getting back to our roots of being a rock & roll band and just playing our instruments and letting the sound bounce off the walls."
That clamor shines through in particular on the What If Nothing track "Headphones," which opens with a blast of noise before segueing into high-energy, hooky rock. "That was the very first song that we wrote when we got back together in Austin," says Petricca. "it just came out of us, this angry-boy energy."
What If Nothing's first single, "One Foot," marries the big-tent vibe of "Shut Up And Dance" to a slinky rhythm and Petricca's strident vocals. Petricca notes that it's a thematically appropriate introduction to where Walk the Moon is at in 2017: "'One Foot' really sums up the theme of the whole record: Staring out into the unknown, being faced with uncertainty and what could be certain failure, but deciding to move forward and take that first step anyway," he says. "The song is partly inspired by the journey that I've been through just in my love life, but it's mirrored with the relationship with my band members and just that we've decided to keep moving forward in the face of the unknown."