Cage the Elephant's Matt Shultz: Inside Singer's Style - Rolling Stone
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Cage the Elephant’s Matt Shultz: See Singer’s Style Inspirations

Frontman discusses treasured items from art books to thrift-store finds

matt shultz, Arizona,

Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant discusses items, from vintage jeans to favorite paintings, that inspire his personal style.

Sacha Lecca for Rolling Stone

When Matt Shultz isn't playing arenas with garage-rock kings Cage the Elephant, you'll often find him camped out in a tiny vintage-clothing shop. The 32-year-old spends hours hunting for the next piece of his grunge-chic wardrobe, mixing unpretentious staples with unexpected flair – a touch of Bowie glam or a bit of cowboy cool, like his signature-edition Vans boots." A couple hundred bucks on a jacket is expensive for me," says the Kentucky native. "I stay away from trends instead of trying to become a fashion icon."

We spoke to Shultz about some of his best finds, as well as books, artwork and other prized possessions that help shape his unique personal aesthetic.

Matt Shultz, Design, Jacket

Sacha Lecca

Dear Wear jacket

"I have this friend, she's an incredible artist. She painted this jacket for me. What's interesting is on the sleeves, there's supposed to be cobras and on the pockets, there's these mongooses. We had this conversation about how the mongooses were the only animal in the animal kingdom that kills cobras for fun. I don't know if that's true but it was part of the conversation. I am pretty sure that the mongoose doesn't kill the cobra for food so it's probably a defense kind of thing. I don't know why they do it but I doubt it's for fun. Whatever, they kill cobras. We thought that was really interesting. Anyway, she took the jacket and painted mongooses on it. It was rad, actually. Mongooses are my favorite animal." 

Matt Shultz, Arizona, Jane Birkin

Sacha Lecca

‘Jane Birkin / Serge Gainsbourg’ album

"It's an incredible record. It's a really beautiful record. As a couple they were pretty iconic. I'm a huge fan of Serge Gainsbourg. His music's incredible but the way he lived life was pretty interesting and funny as well. If you haven't really delved into French folk-pop, it's a great starting place. The thing that's interesting about Serge, too, is whenever he had a new love interest, he would do a musical project, which makes a lot of sense because there's not a lot [of things] that you can do that are more intimate than music … only a few, really. I find it really interesting that whenever he was in love with someone, he would make a record for them." 

Matt Shultz, Pants

Sacha Lecca

White Levi’s found in L.A.’s Chuck’s Vintage Shop

"I went into Chuck's Vintage Shop just browsing around, and I ended up staying there for like two hours. It's a higher-end vintage store, all collector-items kind of stuff." 

Matt Shultz, The Stranger

Sacha Lecca

Shultz’s copy of ‘The Stranger’

"I recently read that book and I loved it because of the way the story unfolds. I guess I shouldn't spoil it or ruin the ending, but it's generally slow paced and at the same time very intense. The way the writer writes is as important as the story itself. It's pretty special." 

Matt Shultz, Jacket

Sacha Lecca

1950s Japanese military tour jacket

"They used to make these incredible embroidered tour jackets – I saw this one in a shop in New York, and, oh, man … it said, 'Fighter by day, lover by night. Drunker than hell and ready to fight.' I was like, 'Oh, my God. That's amazing.'" 

Matt Shultz, Boots

Sacha Lecca

Matt Shultz signature Vans

"I was trying to create a boot that was extremely lightweight so when I was onstage it wouldn't [feel] heavy and at the same time was a mix between a couple classic boots that I guess are now considered vintage. I live here in Nashville and I buy the workman-wear kind of thing that is all over Nashville." 

Matt Shultz, Chagall, Love, War and Exile

Sacha Lecca

Marc Chagall, ‘Love, War and Exile’ exhibition book

"The thing about his paintings that I love are his color combinations. Whenever you sit down in front of a bunch of colors or paint, sometimes it's easier to lean towards all the bright, pretty colors. He would use a lot of grey and integrate it. I just like his color combination." 

Matt Shultz, Painting

Matt Shultz

Shultz self-portrait

"When I was a kid, I used to paint all of the time and got away from it for a little while, and I just got back into it. It's a self-portrait that's about facing the idea of death and the different time that just continuously passes even though you feel like you're standing in the same spot. There's a little bit more to it than that, but I had painted just the face and I kept walking past it for like a month and I hated it. So I started thinking about life and how time is just always slipping away and all of the symbols that represent that. I did it in oil pastel. It was interesting." 

Matt Shultz, fashion inspiration

Sacha Lecca

‘My Freedamn!’ by Rin Tanaka

"Tanaka is a vintage clothing collector and he put together this series of books that are curated collections of vintage clothing. It's not all his. Some of it is, I would assume, but if you look through it, it looks like designers like Hedi Slimane or Gucci are getting ideas from these books. It's all this really rare, random stuff. When I saw the book, we were recording 'Tell Me I'm Pretty' in the studio with Dan Auerbach and he had it and I was flipping through and I was like, 'Ah, man, these are incredible.' So I ordered a bunch of the books and the guy who wrote the book ended up writing me a letter and sending me a couple extra books just as a gift. I thought it was really cool." 

Sacha Lecca for Rolling Stone

Pioneer Wear jacket

"That's the jacket that my wife found, and when I first saw it, I thought it was hideous to be honest. I didn't see the beauty of it, but it was one of those things that kind of grows on you. My wife has an incredible eye for weird and interesting things like that. It's become a stage staple on this past tour. It was just so wild and out there that it took me a while to be able to warm up to it. It almost has this cowboy David Bowie vibe to it in a weird way." 

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