Walk the Moon's Columbus connection

From the February 7, 2013 edition

Since he became the bassist for youthful alterna-pop combo Walk the Moon in 2010, Kevin Ray has performed at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch and Summerfest. He’s appeared on “Letterman,” “Conan,” “Fallon” and “Last Call With Carson Daly.” He’s toured with Weezer, fun., Panic at the Disco and Young the Giant all across North America and Europe.

His favorite experience so far?

“For me, it's by far playing CD101 Day last year,” Ray said by phone last month. “We played the second to last right before The Naked and Famous. It was outdoor LC, the first year they had to do it in two nights, completely sold out, 5,000 people. Being the first time I got to play on that stage at the LC, the venue I used to work at and sit beside that stage and think, ‘What is it like to play on that stage?’ — that was special for me.”

Ray grew up in Upper Arlington. Before shipping off to Ball State, he joined a cover band that played around Columbus. One summer break, he interned at PromoWest Productions, the company that runs LC Pavilion, Newport Music Hall, The Basement and A&R Music Bar. After he joined his old family friend Nick Petricca’s band Walk the Moon, Ray played just about every small venue in town.

His history here runs deep, and it’s about to get deeper. Walk the Moon returns to a sold-out LC this Thursday for its biggest headlining gig yet.

“It's kind of like my little personal victory,” Ray said.

After that, Ray and his bandmates — including fellow UA native Sean Waugaman on drums — will continue what seems to be an endless stream of tour dates. Their schedule has been jam-packed since releasing their self-titled debut on Columbia last year.

Whereas the band members planned out the ebullient video for breakout single “Anna Sun” for a month before filming it with friends in Cincinnati, the new “Tightrope” video was plotted out for them and shot on a free day in L.A. They recorded the recent Tightrope EP in a day too. As for a second full-length, they’re taking their time.

“We're in the moment right now, and we're feeling so good about what we’re doing. I think that's a really good time to be writing,” Ray said. “I don't know if a young band should be taking a year off, even if they have an incredible first album — not just start from scratch and attempt to create some new persona for the band. I think the right move for us is to continue to write as we're feeling it right now, and then go into the studio when we're ready for sure.”

In those rare moments when Walk the Moon isn’t touring, Ray splits his time between three cities these days. Sometimes he’s with his girlfriend in Indianapolis. Other times he’s with the band in Cincinnati. Technically, he still lives in Columbus, where that hometown victory lap is looming Thursday.

“We've chatted about it, and we've talked to people, and we know we have to make it special, so we'll probably pull something together,” Ray said. On the other hand, “We do take every single show like it's going to be our last, probably because we're just paranoid Midwest kids. This dream ride's going to end any second, so we might as well go nuts now.”