Cold War Kids Tell Us About Their Journey From Fullerton to Coachella

The Local OC Band Took the Stage at This Year’s Most Buzzed About Music Festival

Written By: Dan Peel

Over the years, Orange County has kept a solid track record of sending its native bands to the Coachella Valley Art and Music Festival. Some performances that rocked Coachella in recent memory include Rx Bandits’ 2010 day two performance, the self-proclaimed superhero ska group The Aquabats’ 2011 set and The Growlers’ 2012 psychedelia surf rock show.

Other groups with their roots in Orange County broke it down at Coachella in 2013, including the Mission Viejo-based Local Natives and Social Distortion, arguably one of Orange County’s most impactful bands. The 2014 Coachella lineup featured Aloe Blacc, from Laguna Hills, who became famous for his single “Wake Me Up.”

Now it is 2016 and the tide of festival anticipation rises closer to our feet for next year. This year, one of SoCal’s most classic and influential punk groups, The Vandals, served as an Orange Country emissary to Coachella along with the indie rock band Cold War Kids, whose well-earned fame and popularity has continually expanded since the release of  their debut studio album, Robbers and Cowards, a decade ago.

While traveling Budapest, bassist Matt Maust discovered a group of Communist-era statues that had been laid to waste in a park. This image would inspire the name for one of Orange County’s most important new bands. In 2004, Cold War Kids was born in Fullerton, CA, where the band wrote and played songs at their guitarist’s apartment. Within two years of knocking out high-energy local shows and receiving props from an array of music bloggers, Cold War Kids signed with the record label Downtown/V2 and released its debut album, Robbers and Cowards. The band members’ combination of independent rock and blues and lyrical sentimentality has earned them widespread appeal among both critics and fans of the contemporary rock scene.

Cold War Kids traces its influences back through The Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan to Radiohead and Led Zeppelin, who served as inspiration for the members’ zealous live rock shows. Their renewal of classic blues sounds, reignited with contemporary soul and indie rock elements has advanced Cold War Kids from being a band loved by bloggers to becoming a soulful, spirited influence over indie rock—packing a serious enough punch to receive critical recognition and release chart-topping tracks.

The group released their fifth studio album, Hold My Home, with Downtown Records in October 2014. The album picked up some attention for “All This Could Be Yours, ” “Hot Coals” and the anthemic clap-along hit “First.” Though the album’s overall reviews didn’t receive as much love as Robbers and Cowards, “First” held true to its title and became the band’s highest-ranking and longest-charting single to date, rising to number 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart and remaining on the chart for 62 weeks as of June 18, 2016.

Feeling Bubbly: In March 2014, the Cold War Kids song “A Million Eyes” emerged from an experimental partnership with the band and Belgian beer company Stella Artois. Together with inventor Andy Cavatorta, who created instruments out of the company’s drinking glasses, the band’s sound merged with the Chalice Symphony to concoct a one-of-a-kind Stella-drinking soundtrack.  


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