By MIKE CHAIKEN
It’s not a bad gig if you can get it.
And Adam Young, better known as Owl City, has one of the sweetest gigs around this winter as he sets out on tour for two months with one of the hottest bands around, Maroon 5.
Owl City, which is coming off a monster smash collaboration with Carly Rae Jepsen called “Good Time” and was first brought to the public eye with 2008’s “Fireflies,” launches its stint with Adam Levine and the boys in Columbus, Ohio on Feb. 13. And the tour brings them to Connecticut, Feb. 22, when they play the Mohegan Sun Arena.
To open for Maroon 5 is “cool,” said Adam, calling from his home in Minnesota where he was cramming in a bunch of press interviews before the tour. “It’s a really cool feeling (to get the gig). I’m super blessed.”
Owl City toured for a couple of shows with Maroon 5 a few years ago, said Adam. So he’s already met all the guys and got to know them. And he’s watched some of their live shows. “They’re amazing.”
In the studio, Owl City is typically just Adam working on his own, playing all of the instruments and handling all of the singing
But music in the studio and music live on stage are two opposite ends of the spectrum, he said. So the experience of Owl City in concert is different for fans and himself.
On record, said Adam, “it’s me using the studio as inspiration.”
But on stage, Adam said Owl City becomes a collective of five to six musicians. “It’s a different approach (the band’s music),” said Adam. The different musicians offer different takes on Adam’s music and, in the process, they “breathe new life” into the songs. On stage, Owl City’s music is transported to a different place each night.
On record, Owl City has a much more EDM approach. On stage, however, Adam said “there’s more of a rock edge… more electric guitar.” The songs also have to be approached different than they are in the studios. Adam said one of the guitarists has rearranged the synth parts so he can play them on his six string. Additionally, Adam said, instead of a computer playing drums, on stage, Owl City on stage uses a live drummer— who actually comes from a jazz background.
“There are new textures,” said Adam of the live incarnation of Owl City. “It’s really fun to experiment.”
For Owl City’s latest album, “The Midsummer Station,” Adam said in press materials he tried to focus on creating “simple concise pop songs.”
Asked why he decided to take this approach for the new album, Adam said it was a kind of natural progression for him musically. He also saw it as a way to challenge himself by trying to live within the parameters of keeping things simple and creating something he was proud of and would be willing to play over and over again.
Asked if he had any “teachers,” artists he admired who took this approach of simple concise pop, Adam said his first inspiration were the songs currently on the top 40. He examined what people were listening to and wanted to hear. Then he looked to classic purveyors of pop, such as the early Beatles. Another artist he looked toward was country legend Johnny Cash. Cash wasn’t necessarily pop. But Adam said Cash’s simple melodies, his three chord song structure, and the simplicity of one man and his guitar, had a definite appeal to him.
Owl City’s emphasis on creating a simple concise pop song is perfectly epitomized by the first single off “The Midsummer Station,” “Good Time,” Adam’s duet with Carly Rae Jepsen. Once you’ve heard the song, like any great pop track, it’s nearly impossible to get out of your head.
When he approached writing the song, Adam said he asked himself, “How do I come with this pop song about having a good time?” He said there already is a whole catalogue of songs about having a good time. “How can I put my own twist onto it and make it fresh, new and exciting?”
Adam succeeded in spades.
To have the song become such a smash, said Adam, “is exciting. I’m so grateful. It was an honor to work with Carly.”
The song not only has been a hit on radio, but it’s found its way into movie soundtracks (such as the animated film “Hotel Transylvania”) as well. Another song, “When Can I See You Again” was in the animated film, “Wreck-It-Ralph.”
Asked how it felt to have his music inspire other creative spirits in ways he never imagined, Adam said it was humbling. “That’s what I want to be a part of. That’s a huge honor.”
As far as what the future holds for Owl City beyond the Maroon 5 tour, Adam said his focus for now is on touring. There may be a brief time after the Maroon 5 tour wraps up in April where he’ll take some time to work in the studio and write some music. (He said he’s always writing.) But Owl City is a road entity for the foreseeable future. Although no gig has been sewn up yet for life after Maroon 5, Adam said he has his eye on touring in South America. It’s one of the few places he hasn’t been to that he would like to see. (He’s already toured in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.)
“We’ll see what happens.”
Owl City, along with Neon Trees, opens for Maroon 5 at the Mohegan Sun on Friday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $85 and $65. For more information, go to OwlCity.com or MoheganSun.com
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.
By MIKE CHAIKEN