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This week, I chat with one of my favorite bands, Walk The Moon. You’ll hear Nick, Sean, Eli and Kevin talk about everything from life after a mega-hit to opening for The Rolling Stones. The guys also talk about the next single from Talking Is Hard, “Different Colors,” – and you’ll get to hear that as well.
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Plus – I’m headed back to Niagara Falls this weekend. I explain why and what I’m looking forward to while I spend some time back home with friends and family.

Don’t forget – next weekend I’m participating in Urban Mudder, and all of the money I raise is going to Make-A-Wish. Find out more by clicking here.

The conversation has been ongoing. Third Eye Blind’s Steven Jenkins talked about it in his 1998 hit, “Jumper.” The inspiration for the song was a friend of Jenkins’ who committed suicide by jumping off of a bridge. He was gay and a victim of bullying.

“The song is kind of a noir, because it’s really talking to somebody who is already dead,” the lead singer explained. “So this is kind of what you would say (to him).

“When I wrote it, there was this kind of darkness to it. But now when I sing it, it feels exalted, and you see the audience… they sing most of it, I kind of let them sing it… and you can see this release. So I find a lot of joy in that song now. Maybe that’s bouncing back and reflecting the times.”

Perhaps it is – fast forward to 2015 and indie-rock outfit Walk The Moon is releasing, “Different Colors,” a song about acceptance and unity, to radio.

“It feels really relevant to be playing it right now, and really cool,” guitarist Eli Maiman.

“It’s incredible,” lead singer Nick Petricca added. “We’re just all on the same team out here and it’s cool to feel a part of a movement.”

Maiman noted that the song started as a “rallying cry,” but feels more like a “victory march” when it’s played these days. Again, it’s a reflection of the times – the fact that the movement is deemed “cool” is a step in itself. When you add in the Supreme Court ruling and the light that Caitlyn Jenner is shining on the LGBT community, specifically for Trans people, it is easy to see why the momentum behind equality is stronger than ever.

But as Jenner reminded us Wednesday night at The ESPY Awards, there is plenty of work to still be done. She mentioned Sam Taub, a 15 year-old Transgender boy from Bloomfield, Mich. who committed suicide in April.

“Sam’s story haunts me in particular because his death came just a few days before ABC aired my interview with Diane Sawyer,” Jenner said to the audience. The former Olympian was honored by ESPN with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. “Every time something like this happens, people wonder, ‘Could it have been different, if spotlighting this issue with more attention could have changed the way things happen?’ We’ll never know.”

Jenner admitted that she contemplated taking her own life as well. Now she’s hoping that her actions can help others, if by nothing else, keeping the conversation alive.

Photo: instagram.com/espn

Photo: instagram.com/espn

The buzz continues to build, the schedule continues to fill up and the guys that comprise Walk The Moon continue to find themselves in an album cycle that admittedly they want to see stretch out for as long as possible. When you look at what has happened in 2015 to the group, you really can’t blame them.

“Shut Up and Dance” is in serious contention for “Song of the Summer.” The band’s next single from its sophomore album Talking Is Hard will be “Different Colors,” an anthem of different gravitas but near-equal jubilation. And the Cincinnati-quartet is playing all types of stages: as headliners, as supporters for The Rolling Stones and as performers on “Good Morning America” and at MLB’s Home Run Derby in their home city. At this point (or at least the day after their date in Detroit with Mick, Keith and the boys), lead singer Nick Petricca credited “caffeine and adrenaline” with fueling the band, but downplayed any changes of seismic proportions in the group.

“We’ve always kept ourselves working around the clock, so in a way not much has changed,” he told me on “Ralphie Tonight.” “I think we’re going to see the results (of the single’s success) the next time we tour.”

Walk The Moon has already noticed a change in the crowd at shows, especially when those opening notes of “Shut Up” hit the speakers. But their last headlining tour sold out before the song became inescapable.

That’s not to say the single’s success hasn’t brought about other change.
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“I get a whole lot more texts now saying, ‘Hey, I heard “Shut Up and Dance” in X-Y-Z bizarre situation,” noted guitarist Eli Maiman. “So like – ‘I heard it at Cardinals Stadium in St. Louis, or I heard it in Victoria’s Secret this morning.’

“And I’m like, ‘Mom, why are you telling me this?’”

When the laughter subsided, WTM told me that they also want to collaborate with other artists they enjoy; Petricca said the band hasn’t “sold a song” to anyone yet but they have written with other musicians, and Maiman teased a possible Walk The Moon-feature for another singer could be released soon.

The lead singer also mentioned that there’s a chance fans could hear some new material from the group later this year. At the moment the focus is on “Different Colors,” a song that started as a rallying cry but with recent news events such as the Supreme Court’s lifting of same-sex marriage bans, has turned in to more of a “victory march.” The single celebrates diversity and aims to unite.

“It feels really relevant to be playing it right now, and really cool,” said Maiman.

“It’s incredible,” Petricca added. “We’re just all on the same team out here and it’s cool to feel a part of a movement.”

That idea of community is something that the band can easily be reminded of every night, as they perform in front of thousands of face-painted fans whose sole objective is to have fun. No wonder they don’t want this to end.

In the latest edition of “Weekend Scoop,” we checked in with our friends at People! Staff Writer Patrick Gomez was in New York from Los Angeles and talked about celebrity reaction to the history ruling that lifted the ban on same-sex marriages nationwide.
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Gomez also chatted about People‘s cover story – an interview with “Magic Mike XXL” star Channing Tatum.

Over 12 years ago, Ross Mathews was fetching coffee as a “Tonight Show” intern when he was approached with an opportunity that would prove to be the biggest break in his career: producers asked him to cover the red carpet for the premiere of “Oceans 11” when another comedian couldn’t make it. Despite his self-doubts, Mathews went in to the project with a plan.

“I’m self-aware. I know that when I open my mouth and start talking on this national television show, that the audience was gonna start laughing at me,” Mathews told me in studio on “The Ralphie Show.” “I decided… just make sure you get them laughing with you by the end.”

Jay Leno’s audience laughed as Mathews befriended some of the biggest names in Hollywood at star-studded events, and soon Mathews grew an audience of his own. He now is set to debut a new talk-show on E!, and is making the media rounds to promote his new book, “Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence.” His success can be attributed to not just Leno’s confidence in him, but also that of comedian Chelsea Handler.

“Most comics are kind of insecure,” explained Mathews. “So I’ve been luck with not only Jay Leno of course, but now people are seeing with Chelsea like, everyone can win. That’s something she says all the time. There’s room for everybody. When she’s gone, she lets me guest host her show.”

But the entertainer said that while Handler has a sweet side, she ultimately isn’t that different from what her audience sees on TV nightly.

“She’s exactly the same,” he said. “She is biting, and hilarious.”

Handler recognized Mathews rising star by offering him both the opportunity to write this book and shoot a pilot for the aforementioned talk show. His program will debut this fall.

“’Man Up!’ I define as this: yunno you are what you are what you are, and you have to celebrate what makes you different,” he said. “I think you have to use what makes you different to stand out… because that’s when things really happen.”

Mathews cautions that while his tale is one of a small-town boy who grew up on a farm and is gay, the moral of the story doesn’t concern your sexual orientation. But, when you look back at where entertainment was 12 years ago when Mathews first entered our TV sets, it is almost unfathomable.

“This is before ‘Will and Grace,’ before ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,’” recalls Mathews. “I remember being a kid and not knowing what a happy, successful, grown-up, gay person looked like.”

Now, all someone has to do is look at Mathews to see how one fits that description.

They did not face the destruction, or the heartbreak, that many in the tri-state area dealt with. But, it has still been an eventful week and a half by almost anyone’s standards for the band fun. The group spent a day in the UK, and was supposed to land back in New York the night Sandy wrecked the Northeast. That flight was shelved, and as airlines began to cancel thousands of flights, fun. began to wonder how it would return back to the States in time to rehearse and perform on “Saturday Night Live.”

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“We flew to Atlanta, where our bus happened to be driving through to pick us up for tour anyways,” recalled lead singer Nate Ruess on “The Ralphie Show.” The band sat down for an interview on Wednesday night, as it prepared to perform an event in New York for Google Wallet while yet another storm hit the Empire State. “We spent 19 hours on the road, and by the time we got in to New York, ‘Sandy’ had happened that night, so we kind of saw the devastation thereafter.”

The trio lives in the tri-state area, and while Ruess and keyboardist Andrew Dost escaped any harm, guitarist and New Jersey resident Jack Antonoff hasn’t been able to return to his place yet – although he said there was no damage due to the hurricane.

“I just can’t get my crap, which I think in the scheme of things is probably the least people were affected,” Antonoff said. “All of us know people who have had really crazy stuff happen in the storm.”

Antonoff admitted that he didn’t think “Sandy” would wreak as much havoc as it did, due in part to the lack of potency surrounding last year’s “Irene” storm.

“’Irene’ last year was like, a tree kind of dinged my house, and that was the worst thing that happened in our neighborhood,” said Antonoff. “I think (underestimating ‘Sandy’ due to ‘Irene’) is exactly what happened.”

Dost noted that the entire “SNL” crew was super-accommodating as the unorthodox week unfolded. Then Saturday, fun. performed the title track from Some Nights and “Carry On” during the show. You couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song off the band’s latest album – and certainly the fact that it’s LP’s next single and the music video was filmed in Manhattan doesn’t hurt the notion.

“It was something I didn’t think about too much until someone brought it up,” Ruess acknowledged of the song’s relevancy to the events of the week. “I don’t want to say that it’s fortuitous that we have a single coming out that’s called, ‘Carry On.’ Yunno, I think it made the song more special for us… it was the right time and it was a very emotional moment for us on ‘Saturday Night Live’ performing that song.”

The singer confessed that his nerves ratcheted up a bit for the performance – to the point where he threw back a cocktail to calm down – but was careful not to drink too much.

“The crazy thing about this year is that we started out – the first thing that we did was the day Some Nights came out we had done Conan O’Brien,” Ruess said. “That was the first big TV we had done, and I just remember being a mess.”

Just eight months later, fun. has performed on pretty much every TV show that welcomes a band on to play a song.

“It’s crazy how much more you get desensitized to it,” Ruess said. “With ‘SNL,’ even for a second it was like, ‘Oh my God this is live, I could like trip and fall.’”

Interestingly enough, the entire band not-so-secretly carries this insecurity – as if to be careful not to become an Internet meme or punch line with a single misstep. Listening to Antonoff confirm Ruess’ fear, and Dost recall a time in high school where he was picked on, you would never think these three men have toured the globe, conquered late-night TV, and delivered one of the biggest anthems of 2012 to the masses.

Then you realize fun. did all of that, and then some, in only eight months. It’s pretty crazy, by almost anyone’s standards.