A forthcoming EP and four special concerts in January signal a time of "transition" for Cold War Kids before the California quartet hits the studio in February to record its third album.
"We want to take everything we do to the next level," frontman Nathan Willett tells Billboard.com. "We really want to focus more on, like, the craft of songwriting. At this point, two records in, we really know what we do a lot more, which is kind of like a soul-punk mix, so we're really just kind of taking that to the next level and experimenting more. I was just watching the Wilco documentary ('I Am Trying To Break Your Heart'); I almost see Cold War Kids as being to soul music what Wilco is to country-Americana music...We're trying to take soul and punk and take them into the future."
Willett and his cohorts plan to record the followup to 2008's "Loyalty To Loyalty" in Nashville with producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon, Modest Mouse, Norah Jones). Willett says he has a couple songs that are "really close to done" but adds that the band is "in that very funny in-between time of writing and demoing...and also jamming together and seeing what happens." He predicts a mid-summer release for the album "at the earliest."
Meanwhile, Cold War Kids fans will be able to rock to "Behave Yourself," a four-song EP due out Jan. 19 and comprised of songs that Willett says were "a little too happy" for the downcast "Loyalty...," which was recorded in the midst of some profound inner-band turmoil. "We were in a turbulent time of asking ourselves what we were gonna do, what or vision needs to be and all that," Willett recalls. Once past that, he says, "we needed to just go in and record some songs and not think as hard about them. The EP...is a form that makes a lot of sense to us. It's a fun, more frivolous way of putting music out."
Cold War Kids have played all four of "Behave Yourself's" tracks live, according to Willett, and a demo version of "Sermons vs. the Gospel" was included on the 2006 EP "With Our Wallets Full." The group is also distributing the single "Audience of One" for free download. Cold War Kids are warming up for the studio with four concerts -- in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago in January -- which Willett says will chart a different course for the band, too.
"We plan on having a little more production than usual, with video screens showing a lot of images and stuff," he says. "We want to have a stronger aesthetic overall for the shows and leave people with a sense that, as we come into this next record, we're going to have a more commanding presence with the band as a whole. It's the first year we're getting really ambitious."