Separated ribs, stitches and cracked bones are a few of the injuries alt-rock band Cage the Elephant have sustained from crowd-surfing and stage-diving. But the Shultz brothers – singer Matthew and guitarist Brad – carry their battle scars as badges of honor. “It never felt right being on a platform raised above other people,” Matthew tells Rolling Stone. “To me it always felt pretty natural just to jump off the stage.”
The Kentucky natives trace their appreciation for onstage craziness back to the “no rules apply” atmosphere of their formative house party shows. “At one of the places where they used to have house parties, they had a staircase, and I would jump from the second floor of the staircase into the audience,” Matthew says with a smile.
One decade, four albums and a Grammy nomination after forming, the brothers are as wild onstage as ever. “I recently jumped in the crowd and someone bit me in the back,” Brad says. “No joke. I had a lemon-shaped bruise on my back. I was on the guard rail, and I was kinda leaning back into the crowd. And I had this severe pain in my back all of the sudden.”
“I’ve been bit, and I’ve bit back,” Matthew excitedly interjects. “Someone had grabbed my ankles, and someone else … the mic cord was around my throat, and they were pulling it – not on purpose, but it was choking me out. The person was holding the mic cable, and I couldn’t think of anything else, so I just bit him as hard as I could. I heard him go, ‘Oh, mate!’ over the music, over the audience. But it saved me, it saved me.”
Even with his bite mark souvenir, that fan appreciated the band’s energy. “When we announced Reading & Leeds [show] there was a comment,” Brad says, laughing. “This kid was like, ‘Oh, I was at Reading & Leeds like five years ago when the lead singer bit the hell out of me.'”