Walk off the Earth is one of the most seen bands in the last two years, and they have some huge musical heavyweights heralding them as heroes, but they decry any notion of being known as a cover band. Their rise to fame might have come from doing another artist’s song with a touch of their clever, quirky, and fun sensibilities, but this band puts musicianship, instruments, their own brand of innovation in primary focus.
Is all started out with Gotye’s spurned love song, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” performed under the unassuming name of 5 Peeps 1 Guitar, a couple of years ago, their ten hands covering every space of a single guitar, yet each member plucking in perfect timing and conjuring absolutely perfect visibility. Nearly 160 million people have watched since, so it's no wonder that Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Pharrell Williams, along with others on a long list of luminaries, came to court the quintet. Williams’ record label made the direct ask for their version of “Happy.” Because the band has no production budget, they have to bet that they'll be able to capture the perfect video in a single take, and “Happy” took all night on a bus, but they got the perfect one take. Sarah Blackwell, the feminine force in the group, is fierce about getting those singular moves captured. “I hope everyone's getting it, because were so close, and I'm killing this take,” is her frequent mental dialogue. Emulation, rather than imitation, must be the sincerest flattery, because Taylor Swift was so taken by her version of “I Knew You Were Trouble,” it now has a permanent place in her playlist before shows.
Walk off the Earth’s live shows are an entirely different and enthralling experience from watching their videos. The few thousand fans watching in the audience may not make ticket sellers’ hearts palpitate in the same way that the YouTube view tally does, but audiences are treated to true musicianship, and spectacular showmanship, too, as guitars, keyboards, and even saxophones fly through the air between band members onstage. “Saxophones can hurt,” the Toronto performers admit, but when it comes to their performances, band member, Gianni Luminati insists that the only rule is that there are none, not even a strict set list. Far from copying anyone, every performance turns to improvisation. More and more of the group’s own material is rising on their iTunes queue.
Even the band's name comes from a desire to take their listeners to a different place with their music, and the band certainly took themselves to a place in modern music in a most unique way.
Additional source: CBS This Morning broadcast, August 15, 2014, CBS Networks.