On September 26th Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros  will be performing at the Iroquois Amphitheater. Tickets  are $30. Louisville.com had the privilege to talk to Christian Letts (guitar, vocals) of the hit folk rock band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Louisville.com: From what I’ve read singer Alex Ebert met fellow singer Jade Castrinos at a music and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros was formed in 2007. Then in 2009 you all turned into the 10 person troupe you are today. Did you originally plan on having this many musicians?
Letts: Yes, we wanted to have all the different instruments live. We didn’t want to rely on synthetic sound.
Louisville.com: That makes sense. How did the 10 of you come together to form this ensemble?
Letts: We were playing a show and called up a bunch of our friends. We are mainly the same group we were then except for a few substitutes. We are just a collection of friends.
Louisville.com: All of you come from various backgrounds. How did you get involved, and what is your particular background?
Letts: Alex and I have been friends since I was 3. One day he called me up to lay down some guitar tracks and was the best feeling creatively. I grew up listening to hip hop. My mom liked classic rock, and my dad listened to a lot of 30’s Jazz. With Jazz I really got into Django Reinhardt from France.
Louisville.com: That’s super cool.
Letts: You know who Django Reinhardt is?
Louisville.com: Yeah, I listen to a lot of Stephane Grappelli, a jazz violinist, who played with Django a lot.
Letts: Yeah, those two played together all the time. That’s cool you know who Django is. A lot of people ask me, “Who’s Django Reinhardt?” He is my favorite artist. I actually went to France and visited all his old stomping grounds.
Louisville.com: That sounds like an amazing experience and quite the trip. Going back to the number of musicians in the band, with such a large number of musicians how do you collaborate on songs? How do you keep band members from getting lost in the crowd?
Letts: In song writing, when somebody has an idea they work on it by themselves before bringing it to the table. Then we all collaborate on the idea. Sometimes songs form during jam sessions. It is very collaborative. Even if it is a small part it is still important. With our second album we have over three years worth of songs we have to choose from. We’ve been spending time in the studio arranging, a part here, a part there. We don’t really have a problem with anyone getting left out.
Louisville.com: What are some of the challenges with working with such a large band?
Letts: Honestly I don’t feel like it is a challenge. This is how I always wanted. Each of us is a great musician with our own voice. If anything time schedules. It is hard to find time to record all the songs and deciding which songs go on the album.
Louisvile.com: Speaking of time, you all have been touring a lot and have becoming more and more popular. From what I’ve read you all are temporarily on a tour break until September, but I heard about your DVD “Big Easy Express,” which documents your 2011 tour with Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons. Can you tell me a little bit more about that experience?
Letts: It was the coolest thing. The art deco train had a bar car and a lounge car. We had a jam room and our own bartender we called King Willie. The food car had ‘cup cuts’ that were bloody good. There was such an infectious energy and sense of being. We have so much more to learn. Everyone was so nice no egos at all. It was great to see the country and having the train as our background to shows. It was incredible to see a family grow. The train tour was the most beautiful thing I’ve done, so beautiful.
Louisville.com: Like many other listeners, your hit song “Home” was the first song to really capture my attention. After listening to the album that song in particular really stands out. What was the inspiration behind it?
Letts: Alex and Jade hanging out. It is a love song in a sense. Not necessarily girl and guy, girl and girl, guy and guy. It’s brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters. Friendship. The whole meaning of love. You know the lyrics, “Alabama Arkansas I sure love my maw and paw” it’s an expression of pure love.
Louisville.com: Well I look forward to hearing you all at the Iroquois Amphitheater in Louisville on Sept 26th. Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers out there?
Letts: Every night is so different. Each show is unique. We never play the songs the same way, and we don’t use a set list. We play what feels good. It will be a fun experience with lots of dancing.
Louisville.com: Thank you so much for talking with me.
Letts: Thank you!
Photos: courtesy of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros website