Cardiknox's Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton's first project was a rock opera. The Seattle-bred, L.A.-based duo was introduced by a friend just as Dutton's then band (Forgive Durden) was ready to translate their album into a stage musical. That's where Angle came in.
"Lonnie studied directing so we started working together [on the show] for about a year in Seattle before it was picked up by a theater in New York," explains Dutton. "We moved out there to focus on that for another year before deciding to totally switch again."
They made the switch to create feet-stomping, electro-pop, earning them a Warner Brothers record deal and opening spots for The Knocks, Carly Rae Jepsen and Bleachers. Cardiknox's debut "Portrait" dropped in March and the band is set to co-headline with Phoebe Ryan starting this month.
Most of what your songs are definite dance party-starters. How do you keep an audience on their feet through a set?
Lonnie Angle: I think at a live show, it's a lot of give-and-take. We're up there and we can give everything we emotionally and physically can, but that's only 50-percent. The crowd has its own energy. It's different every night. That's what makes every night magically different.
When we were with Carly Rae and the Knocks, we were in front of these amazing big crowds who largely didn't know our music because our album wasn't out yet. So it was hugely validating at that point to see people partying with us by the end of a show.
This time, you're heading out with Phoebe Ryan, who we've chatted with before, and she's really fun. How did that come to be?
Thomas Dutton: We saw her last time actually. We had met her briefly before when we were out with The Knocks. She's really good friends with them and came to a few shows. We have the same booking agent, too, so there's a bunch of lines to each other in that way.
Do you think your rock opera origins show up in the stage show?
Angle: Having our songs be honest reflections of both Thomas and my stories, beyond songwriting, informs the live show a lot. I love performing, and the theatric, dramatic side that gets brought out of you on stage.
Speaking of drama, I saw you're bringing along a bedazzled mic stand on tour. Was that a DIY project?
Dutton: That it is. We bought a mic stand and then went to Chinatown in L.A. where they have those wholesale stores for everything. We went to one called "The Bead Factory"...
Angle: It was insane.
Dutton: It was endless. I learned more about rhinestones than I ever thought I would in my whole life. We found these rhinestones called Aurora Borealis that change colors and bought 1,000.
Angle: And then we bedazzled the s—t out of it.
Dutton: But it wasn't enough. We had to go back for 400 more, and apply them one-by-one.
Seems like delicate cargo for tour.
Dutton: That's a whole other project. I went to Home Depot and bought PVC pipes... and nevermind.
So the posters for this tour with Phoebe Ryan are an obvious dig at Trump's "Make America Great" campaign. Do you consider yourselves political?
Dutton: I think we both have strong views.
Angle: We're strongly left-leaning.
Dutton: We don't share them that publicly, but we're definitely against "President Trump" and that idea.
Angle: Let's hope it's not "president."
Back to your rock opera, do you think you'll ever revisit?
Dutton: We were in the car the other day and one of the songs [from the rock opera] popped up on my phone, and we were like, "Oh, yeah. This is still pretty good." It stood the test of time, so maybe, it's just a lot of work.
Angle: Broadway 2020 ... OK, maybe 2025.