Los Angeles dream-pop band CANNONS launch their first-ever headlining tour tomorrow night (March 1) for a sold-out show at hometown El Rey Theatre. Vocalist Michelle Joy, guitarist Ryan Clapham and keyboardist/drummer Paul Davis formed over a decade ago with their music buzzing around KCRW and early track “Body Talk” landing a sync on HBO’s Ballers in 2015. CANNONS have actively toured and recorded for years, releasing Night Drive in 2017, In A Heartbeat in 2018 and Shadows in 2019, earning breakout success in 2020 with their hit “Fire For You”, followed by an exciting 2021 touring schedule at major festivals like Lollapalooza, Life Is Beautiful and Outside Lands.
The new wave-y pop act has continued their run with equally-addicting, glistening indie-pop from the sweet-yet-driving “Bad Dream” to the hazy guitar track “Ruthless” to most recently the reggae-hued “Purple Sun”, all off forthcoming March 25 release Fever Dream. The album title is spot-on, a blend of mid-tempo and down-tempo grooves dripping in both nostalgia and blasting into the alt-pop future; it’s the perfect soundscape for a drive down the PCH along the ocean or even while adventuring on the slopes. CANNONS’ music has truly come to life accompanying visuals from HBO to Netflix series to TikTok clips that achieved viral status. “Hurricane” will be the next single to be released on March 4 with an accompanying music video. The band revealed on a Reel on their Instagram account that the breezy song was created first with the bass groove and the whistling and then everything else was added on. Judging from the all-red sequined attire, we are in for a storm of moody disco on this one.
The band’s 21 dates around North America include a stop at Okeechobee Music Festival on March 5 and fans in their hometown are getting an extra dose of CANNONS lately, who just opened for lovelytheband at the Fonda Theatre in November and Anaheim’s House of Blues in December. Just last month at ALT 98.7 FM’s 2022 iHeart ALTer EGO, CANNONS made a splash alongside Milky Chance as the two acts to play the free portion of the event outside at The Forum (which also included headlining acts from twenty one pilots, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Kings of Leon, All Time Low, Måneskin and surprise guest Avril Lavigne).
“That was our first show back in 2022, it was really great,” said Joy. “We didn’t have too much time off since we just got off our first U.S. tour with lovelytheband. It was really cool, we got to go into The Forum into the back and do some promo with different radio stations that have supported us. I felt like people really, really wanted to dance and get outside and experience live music. It was also really dark and rainy that day too but I just don’t think people even cared what was going on, they just wanted to have a good time. They haven’t been able to experience live music as much as they used to. A lot of people have been listening to us over quarantine and it was their first time to see us in real life. A lot of people told us that our music helped them during the pandemic”.
For fans who miss out on the El Rey date, CANNONS will be back soon on the west side at new venue The Venice West on May 11 (also sold-out), followed by their BeachLife Festival performance in Redondo Beach on May 13. Michelle Joy, who transplanted herself to Los Angeles over a decade ago from South Florida reminisced about the band’s first show in 2014 at a little spot called The Boot in Santa Clarita where fans started out evolving with the band.
“I have made Los Angeles my home, I have even brought my sisters out here”, said Joy. “Ryan and Paul, I look at them like they’re family —their family is my family too. It’s really exciting to be able to play at home. We love experiencing new places and every time it’s some place new we experience a different kind of energy. When we come home it’s the perfect vibe for our live performance, but there are also great crowds that I didn’t expect like in Detroit, no one was afraid to dance, sing. But that’s also how it feels when we’re at home”.
The band formed in 2013 believe it or not because of a Craigslist post —Michelle met up with Ryan and Paul for coffee, they exchanged some music files and the rest is pretty much history. “Ryan and Paul actually grew up on the same street so they have known each other since they were 8, playing music together and have not stopped”, shared Joy. “About ten years ago I moved to Los Angeles and I didn’t really know anyone out here, but I wanted to finish all these songs that I was making ’cause I learned ProTools and Ableton. I went to look for other musicians and they were looking for a singer because they didn’t sing and we liked all the same music and sent some files back and forth, wrote our first song together (“Shallow Lagoon”) without meeting up and it sounded really good. I always say CANNONS is my first and last band. I’m either all in or I’m not”.
Fast-forward to 2020, the world was on pause but music was all over phones, tablets, TikTok and every other digital and social media platform imaginable. Their song “Fire For You” had the perfect blend of a soothing vocal from Michelle, a groovy guitar from Ryan and a beat from Paul that was the perfect storm for an addicting danceable bop without being too aggressive. The vibe hit the airwaves the same year Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” made the unusual re-emergence into popular culture with the now-ubiquitous clip of Dogg Face on a skateboard. “Fire For You” simply arrived with a perfect mid-tempo pop concoction to keep people ticking while feeling inspired and hopeful at the same time.
“During the beginning of the pandemic, like March 2020, we had all been sent home from our jobs and couldn’t work and we knew we had some syncs happening”, recalled Joy. The show Never Have I Ever had been a #1 Netflix show at the time and everyone was on their couches and they picked up “Fire For You” and used the whole song like a music video for a really important part of the show. Then it shot to #1 on Shazam in the whole world and we started getting traction. Labels started showing up in our emails. It was a very surreal moment, that’s when I feel like people were exposed the most to CANNONS due to that fantastic sync. But after that lots of people starting using it on a lot of TikToks and it’s gotten some other great syncs.
It was an unusual time to be gaining traction, but the speed of the songs from CANNONS were hitting something culturally, emotionally, maybe subconsciously and definitely musically in a way that they evoked visuals and memories.
“There is a very downtempo element to our music which works really well with film, that’s kind of why the sync world has been really great to us”, said Joy. “I have noticed some great trends, one of the first we ever wrote called “Spells” trending on Instagram Reels and tons of people started using it with wellness advice and little spiritual videos with candles and stuff. It’s cool to see all the different things that people do with “Fire For You” and “Bad Dream”. It’s great people feel creative and inspired, it’s exciting”.
The quarantine days may have actually been a bizarre blessing for CANNONS, with fans seeking out the next video, searching for music and content to distract away their woes. As things opened up again last summer, the band was about to play their first major festival, and it streamed on Hulu too.
“It makes sense, more people were on their phones and trying to connect with other people through technology”, said Joy. “And I do think it helped us because the experience of a song like blowing up, signing a label, touring. I eased into it ’cause everything was shut down so I had time to prepare. In July when things started happening again, our first festival was Lollapalooza so I had some time to mentally and physically perform to get in front of thousands of people. Lollapalooza was a huge difference from us playing The High Hat in 2019. I was definitely nervous but the nerves went away when I was on the stage”.
On the eve of their first-ever headlining tour, CANNONS is ready to sparkle and dance with their fans again, gearing up brand new music from their upcoming album Fever Dream as well as playing some of the hits that got them where they are today.
“We’re really excited and this is our first headlining tour ever and we are kind of blown away by the amount of tickets and stuff. We’ve already sold out half of the store and we had to move to bigger venues. Since it’s our first one we didn’t know what to expect so it’s great to see the response and we are honored and grateful that we have so many people that love us and support us”.
CANNONS Fever Dream Tour Schedule
3.1.2022 Los Angeles, CA at El Rey Theatre SOLD OUT (with Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue and Somme)
3.2022 San Francisco, CA at Independent
3.3.2022 Santa Cruz, CA at Catalyst Atrium
3.5.2022 Okeechobee, FL at Okeechobee Music Festival
3.7.2022 Santa Barbara, CA at SoHo
3.9.2022 Arcata, CA at Arcata Theater
3.11.2022 Vancouver, BC at Biltmore Cabaret
3.15.2022 Salt Lake City, UT at Soundwell
3.16.2022 Denver, Co at Globe
3.18.2022 Minneapolis, MN at Fine Line
3.19.2022 Chicago, IL at Lincoln Hall
3.20.2022 Detroit, MI at El Club
3.22.2022 Boston, MA at Crystal Ballroom
3.23.2022 Brooklyn, NY at Elsewhere
3.25.2022 Philadelphia, PA at PhilaMOCA
3.26.2022 Washington, D.C. at Union Stage
3.28.2022 Toronto, ON at Velvet
3.29.2022 Pittsburgh, PA at Thunderbird
3.30.2022 Cleveland, OH at Mahall’s
4.1.2022 Indianapolis, IN at Hifi
4.2.2022 Columbus, OH at Rumba
4.4.2022 Nashville, TN at Basement East
4.5.2022 Atlanta, GA at The Earl
4.7.2022 Baton Rouge, LA at Chelsea Live
4.8.2022 Houston, TX at Secret Group
4.9.2022 Fort Worth, TX at Tulips
4.10.2022 Austin, TX at Antone’s
4.11.2022 Venice, CA at The Venice West SOLD OUT
4.13.2022 Redondo Beach, CA at BeachLife Festival 3-Day and Single Day tickets available
In addition to Tuesday’s sold-out El Rey performance, CANNONS will perform May 11 at new venue The Venice West (SOLD OUT) followed by an appearance at BeachLife Festival on May 13.
All photos by Skyler Barberio for iHeartRadio ALTer EGO 2022