We chatted with Jean Paul Makhlouf of dance music trio Cash Cash ahead of their US tour with Texas band Tritonal to find out what to expect from their show at Emo’s Austin on Saturday, how they relate, as artists, to barbecue pitmasters, and what truly inspires their songs.
Cash Cash heads to Austin with Texas-based band, Tritonal, for the third stop on their country-wide tour.
New Jersey trio Cash Cash skyrocketed to success with their 2013 dance single, “Take Me Home,” featuring Bebe Rexha. With a new album out imminently (featuring big names like Busta Rhymes, B.o.B., Fitz and the Tantrums, and Capital Cities), we caught up with infectiously energetic band member Jean Paul Makhlouf just before they embarked on their biggest tour yet. Their third stop is Emo’s Austin on Saturday, September 19 (tickets here).
How excited are you for this tour? JEAN PAUL MAKHLOUF: So excited! This is big for us—it’s our first full US bus tour. It’s going to be crazy.
Are you doing anything to prepare for it? JPM: I should probably be doing some push-ups, maybe running a couple of miles a day, but at this point it’s mostly just burritos.
Now this isn’t your first time in Austin, but since you’re touring with natives, are they going to show you around? JPM: I assume we’re going to get some good barbecue because every time we’ve been down there it’s like another level. The last two times we were there we went to a place… it’s a little truck...
Is it Micklethwait? JPM: Micklethwait! Yeah! It was just unbelievable. [...] We take pride in what we do, and when we see people who take pride in what they do, it’s inspiring. And as we were sitting there eating, you could tell a couple of people were watching our faces to see our initial reactions. They really took pride in it. I love that place, it’s the best barbecue I’ve ever had in the entire world. So hopefully we’ll get back down there.
Jean Paul Makhlouf spills on how Neon Hitch's shorts became the inspiration behind Cash Cash's latest song, "Devil."
Where do your song names come from? JPM: Going back and forth with everybody trying to come up with a concept, sometimes they’re more thought out than others and sometimes they’re just random. With our new single, “Devil,” we were sitting in the basement like, forever, and we just couldn’t come up with anything, and [singer/songwriter] Neon Hitch had these short little booty shorts on, literally, her ass was hanging out the whole time and I’m like, “You know what, we should just write a song about your ass, because it’s ridiculous.” And she looked at me and she laughed and she was like, “Cash Cash, make my ass bounce back,” and I was like, “Oh my god, that’s hilarious, let’s go with that.”
And then we delved into the idea of like, bouncing back meaning like, so maybe we’ve been somewhere bad, and so maybe we’ve been dancing with the devil, and the juices started flowing. So literally, her butt sparked, “Devil.”
I bet she feels pretty good about her butt inspiring a song. JPM: I mean—it’s a great butt.
Growing up, you had a Goo Goo Dolls poster on your wall, and now you’ve done a song with John Rzeznik (“Lightning”). You’re working with so many big names—at what point did you take a step back and say, “Wow, I’ve really made it?" JPM: That was definitely it, it was unreal. We were all huge Goo Goo Dolls fans—we would go to Goo Goo Dolls shows and play their songs on acoustic guitars when we were in elementary school. I remember when I posted that we released that song on my Facebook page, all my high school friends were commenting on it, “I guess dreams really do come true.”
What are the chances? It’s things like that that put everything in perspective, like, remember where you came from, remember you were the kid in the audience, and you were there, and now you’ve done a song with one of your biggest influences. It was priceless, absolutely priceless.
Is there anyone else you’d love to collaborate with? JPM: We’ve been so lucky to work with so many amazing artists that we love and respect for our album coming out. As far as people that we haven’t yet, it’s just endless. I’d love to get in with Adam Levine, Vance Joy; even Ed Sheeran would be a good one. Or we could get some Jersey love with like, Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi.
What can people expect from a Cash Cash show? JPM: On the Untouchable tour there’s going to be a lot to expect, because we have a lot of unreleased music that we’re gearing up for on our album, so we’re going to be teasing a bunch of that. There are going to be back-to-back sets with us and Tritonal, so we’re going to be jumping on the decks together—it should be like a circus up there. I know they’re going to drop a bunch of unreleased music as well, so it’s going to be fresh.