2015 Year in Review

December 31, 2015
David Wexler

What a year it was for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, highlighted by the release of the band’s first live album, an unforgettable summer tour and the release of the first song from ESMZ’s forthcoming album.

Here are some of the big ESMZ news you may have missed during 2015.

In November, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released “Hot Coals,” the first song from its yet-to-be-named forthcoming album.

“We’ve been on for a while now, but it’s like we just turned on a new page in the old book with the inscription: serve your power and work beyond reason,” says frontman Alex Ebert.

The album – the band’s fourth studio album – is scheduled for released in early 2016. In late March 19, inside the packed Central Presbyterian Church at Southwest By Southwest in Austin, Texas – the band debuted the album in its entirety, giving the Sharpies a taste of what’s to come.


What was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ summer tour like? One fan — after seeing ESMZ live at the Winnipeg Folk Festival — perhaps summed it up best: “There’s always something magical happening at an ESMZ show.”

The 2015 summer tour had a little bit of everything. Wheelchair crowd surfing. Marriage proposals. Street performing at Prospect Park. Alex Ebert and Peter Yarrow talking social change and singing Blowing in the Wind together at the Arise Festival. Magic.

And of course, ESMZ fans everywhere were there to capture their favorite moments and share them on Instagram, because as @meghanmeghanmeghan says, “If you go to a concert and don’t Instagram it did it really even happen?”

Did you miss out on the fun? Check out our photo gallery!

In what was described as the most magical moment of the three-day Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros invited a paraplegic and a few of his friends on stage today for the final two songs of the band’s set.

During ESMZ’s If I Were Free, wheelchair-bound François Bernier crowd surfed to the main stage with the help of the fans.

Social media instantly blew up, and members of ESMZ called it one of the most memorable moments they had ever experienced.

“Thank you so much @esmzeros!!” Bernier commented on Instagram. “I’m that guy in wheelchair and I’ll never forget that moment and still can’t believe that it happened! It was truly unreal!” Read the full story.

In March, Edward Sharpe released their first live album, “Live In No Particular Order: 2009-2014.″ The album features more than two hours of music from performances around the world, as well as a curated photo archive, a digital booklet and music video.

“To our amazement, it’s been seven years since our first show,” Ebert said. “We’ve grown up in that time. Beauty and heartache and joy stretched over that time. Our wills were tested and maybe even bested in that time. But mostly what a triumph that time has been…We smiled ‘so much my face hurts’, as you’ll hear. We stressed plenty too, frowned and pained, but mostly we were doubled over laughing or riding our bicycles – and danced – we did a lot of dancing. And we played…We went from friends to family in that time. We became (and I hold this word as near-sacred) a Band in that time. And here is an album that spans that time. 20 songs from that 7 year frame, as tips of the hat to that time we shared with you – our of appreciators, our co-conspirators, our people.”

The album is now available on vinyl.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros helped bid “Fare Thee Well” to the Grateful Dead over the summer, playing a late night show in July at Thalia Hall following the first Dead show in Chicago. ESMZ was one of several bands performing as part of the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary reunion shows at Soldier Field in Chicago.

“We’re honored to be playing these shows for the Grateful Dead,” Ebert said as the band came on stage.  “They really did something.” Check out Austin Bennett’s review.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros guitarist/vocalist Christian Letts worked double duty over the summer. On several dates during the summer tour, Letts opened for ESMZ, promoting his debut solo album “Hold Fast.”

The album, produced by friend Marcus Mumford, was released in February by Community Music/Vagrant Records.

“I think this is the most excited I’ve been in a long time for our music,” Letts told 930 Club. “I have the same feeling for this record as I did for the first one album we did as well. I’m really proud of this. I think we did something really special with this one. I cannot wait to share this with everybody.”

In March, Letts stopped by the Jam in the Van traveling studio in Los Angeles to perform songs from the album.

2015 was another big year for Alex Ebert.

In February, Disney’s Feast was the winner of Best Animated Short Film at the 87th Academy Awards. Ebert wrote and composed the score for the short, which was directed by first-time Oscar winners Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed.

In October, Avicii released his second LP, called Stories, featuring Ebert as a guest vocalist on the song For A Better Day.

Ebert also recorded a song for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called “Feel the Bern.” It was the first time he had ever recorded a song in favor of any politician before, but Ebert says “ol’ Bernie Sanders is just the kind of humble fire I like gathering around.”

“He burns un-postured, plain as day. He walks free, un-bought – not from luck of wealth, but from the strength of honor,” Ebert wrote on his Facebook page. “He stands, unkempt, unafraid of what he might say because there is nothing of him to hide. He runs for president free of presidential hair, free of prisoning pockets, free of cowardice. He speaks – ah, but don’t they all! (Anyone can shoot a few straight lines at your television screen – few can then refer you to a history of service that vouches for each word…Bernie can.) He sings…no, but on occasion I do – and I thought it about damn time ol’ Bernie had a song! Sing this song. Stoke the man’s fire. May the truth he bears torch his competition.”

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