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Relationships formed on Craigslist don’t usually turn out as auspiciously as that of Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, the frontmen of Capital Cities.
They met cute in 2008 when Merchant, a University of Southern California graduate, replied to an ad posted by Simonian offering his assistance with music production. The alt-dance duo’s first songs were actually jingles, and they worked together on several major commercials. Writing pop songs together was a natural progression from their day job.
Capital Cities’ breakout first single—”Safe and Sound,” with a buoyancy akin to the songs of MGMT and the Limousines, and memorable for its earworm-y trumpet loops—has the kind of polish one would expect from a major-label effort. So it’s all the more impressive that Merchant and Simonian originally released it by themselves—last year, on a five-song, self-titled EP featuring other poppy jams such as “Love Away” and “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast.” Likewise, their radio campaign and international tour was an entirely DIY effort.
The investment paid off when a deal with Capitol Records came through at the end of 2012. Now the pair can look forward to the debut of its first LP this summer and the Dancing With Strangers North American tour, which has the band on the road until August with two hometown shows in June at the El Rey Theatre.