Taking their name from The Police song “Walking on the Moon,” Cincinnati band Walk the Moon proudly wears their obsession with the 1980s.
“All that music had wonderful (cover) art and terrific vibes,” said bassist Kevin Ray, noting that the alternative rock quartet’s musical tastes were formed by their parents’ record collections.
Perhaps the finest example is their 2015 monster hit “Shut Up and Dance,” with its innocent giddiness, U2-delay-drenched guitars and over-the-top synthesizer sound.
“Nick (singer/keyboardist Nicholas Petricca) was out with his girlfriend at the time. He might have been in his own head about his writers block,” Ray said in a phone interview, revealing why the song’s narrator has to be told to “shut up and dance.”
When asked if he had seen the YouTube video using the band’s best-known song that mashes up dance sequences from a variety of movie musicals, Ray said: “It continues to surprise us. It puts things in perspective, and what the song has done for us.”
Also, that’s Walk the Moon covering Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” during the closing credits of the 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie. Ray called it “an absolute dream come true,” although it took the band many tries, approaching the song from different angles, before they found the feel they liked best.
Meanwhile the band is rehearsing for a tour to support their third album, “What If Nothing,” which brings them to the Fillmore Jan. 21. The budget for the Walk the Moon “Press Restart” tour is noticeably bigger than previous tours. “We’re in a position to try a lot of things (on stage) we never tried before. We got some cool lights,” Ray said.
“Kamikaze,” one of the album’s singles, has an energy tailor-made for playing in concert, he said. “We’re pretty excited about that one,” he commented.
Ray shared that his personal favorite track among the new songs is “Headphones,” and that the title “What If Nothing” is a reference to the band’s indecision a year and a half ago on whether or not they were going to continue. “We decided to take some time off. We didn’t stop for a long time. We had a lot to deal with back home, on our own. It makes you question why you do that. There were a lot of ‘what ifs’ in that time,” Ray said.
The striking artwork for the album, and each of its singles, is by surrealist artist Felipe Posada. “One of us was scrolling through Instagram one day, and we came across him,” he said.
The most Cincinnati thing about Walk the Moon, besides a love for Skyline Chili, is that “we’re Midwest boys ... down to the bone.”
“We kinda treat this business like family. We have a lot of our crew that’s been with us from the beginning. It’s a weird mix of business and friends,” Ray said.