Nicholas Petricca, lead singer of Cincinnati-based rock band Walk The Moon, has never been shy about being ambitious. “I think we always wanted to be one of those bands like Coldplay or Green Day or The Killers who’ve just been true to themselves but found their way into the world and brought more rock ‘n roll music to the pop world,” he says.
Still, even Petricca couldn’t quite imagine the relative speed at which the band’s “Shut Up And Dance” has lodged itself in the top 5 of the Hot 100 and the No. 1 spot on Hot Rock Songs -- and stayed there, for six and 12 weeks, respectively -- with sophomore album Talking Is Hard in the upper berths of the Billboard 200 at No. 25. “At this time last year, we were finishing our record. Now we just found out we sold out Red Rocks this summer -- it’s totally out of control,” he says.
Walk The Moon can add Pepsi spokespeople to their growing list of 2015 achievements. The band has signed on as one of the first artist partners for Pop Open Music, Pepsi’s summer music program, which debuted new TV spots earlier this week featuring the band’s next single, “Different Colors” and will team up with Walk The Moon throughout the summer as part of its new Pepsi Pass backstage summer concert offering and recently inked deal with Live Nation.
Petricca says the band is “always looking for new and unique ways to put our music out there,” and hopes the Pepsi partnership can relieve some of the band’s self-imposed pressure to top themselves next time out. “At this point, ‘Shut Up And Dance’ has gone all around the world, so I’m not sure we would ever expect something would be quite as successful, but it is definitely on our minds to see if we can do it again,” he says. “With this song in particular, it’s such a different side of us and has this message that’s important to us about diversity and celebrating each other’s differences, which is an awesome tie-in with the Pepsi campaign as well.”
Earlier this week, Pepsi kicked off Pop Open Music in New York with a concert event featuring Kid Ink and Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff. And Pepsi’s senior marketing director Lou Arbetter says the brand will continue to give away concert tickets every hour all summer long (nevermind that the season doesn’t technically kick off until this Sunday, June 21.)
“There’s nothing that connects you more to a community than when you see music live,” Arbetter says, “and tapping into that through Live Nation is incredibly powerful for the brand. We can offer lots of things like tickets and exclusive access to to events across the country and now festivals like Lollapalooza. We can offer value under every cap of Pepsi, and let fans know we’ll be their wingman for this summer of music.”
As Walk The Moon gears up for a summer full of touring (next stop: this weekend’s Firefly in Dover, Delaware), Petricca says returning to the band’s roots in Cincinnati, where all four members still maintain residences, is still a priority. “It’s almost a joke with our fans now that every time we’re onstage, we sort of wave our Ohio pride flag,” says Petricca. In fact, the band was presented with a plaque onstage at a recent gig at local venue Bogart’s declaring April 1 Walk The Moon Day in Cincinnati.
Despite the date, Petricca insists that Mayor John Cranley wasn’t pulling an April Fool’s prank. “At first we were like, ‘Wait a second, you’re not screwing with us right?’ But it was real. So, we have to do them proud.”
And just how has Petricca taken advantage of his newfound status in his hometown? “I did get recognized in a Chipotle and got a free burrito. That was pretty cool.”