When The Orphan The Poet started their latest single “The Moxie,” they didn’t overthink the story they were telling. Instead, they focused on their own feelings, their outlook on life, and a determination and self confidence that can only be called moxie. “There were times when growing up I very much identified as a nerd to be honest. At the same time, I was a confident nerd,” admits vocalist and guitarist David Eselgroth. “Looking back at the song now I’m like ‘oh, that’s what it’s about. This is what it means to me. These are the times that I’ve known I was a big dork but that didn’t change the strut in the step or whatever it was. I could see so much of myself in the lyrics just from my own experiences of being the nerdy kid. He wasn’t in the cool crowd, but he thought he was cool.”
Sonically, “The Moxie” was fine-tuned from its original voice memo form with the help of their producer and closest collaborator Matt Squire (Panic! At the Disco, All Time Low). The song was first written over Zoom in the earliest weeks of quarantine. It was brought to life in a studio in Ohio with Squire controlling their studio session from his own studio in DC. The end result coats the rough edges of Cage The Elephant with a smooth and slippery glaze of alt pop. The nonsensical lyrics, mouth bass, and wailing guitars all scream confidence at the highest volume.
“We both love Cage the Elephant. Growing up in the super small town that I did, we had one rock/alternative radio station so it would be predominantly bands like Breaking Benjamin or those hard rock bands,” recalls bassist Jake Floyd. “I remember specifically when I heard Cage for the first time. I was like ‘this is different, and this is cool.” Consequently, The Orphan The Poet borrows and bends the sounds of 2000’s alt rock, sculpting its rough edges into something punchy, modern, and of a new decade.
Years ago, the duo spent their days playing World of Warcraft and networking their way through the close-knit music scene of Dayton, Ohio. They played with different bands and traveled to larger towns for different shows. Floyd knew who Eselgroth was, and finally found the courage to approach him and his friend group at a Cincinnati Warped Tour. Naturally, they bonded over their shared recognition of the deep cuts from Sum 41’s set. They were kindred spirits – both musicians with dreams that spanned beyond their local Ohio bars. Now, they live in Columbus, a mere four minutes from each other (according to Google Maps).
Growing up, Eselgroth had a friend who ended up losing both of her parents while they were in high school together. Despite the tragedy in her life, she remained a happy and vibrant person, who avidly pursued her dreams of becoming a writer. “When we put this project together I always had this remembrance of what that meant to me in my formative years. We thought [The Orphan The Poet] was kind of an homage to her,” Eselgroth explains.
Newly a duo, Eselgroth and Floyd are ready for a new era of The Orphan The Poet. “The Moxie” feels like the dawn of a different chapter, but only time will tell. For now, they have a music video for “The Moxie" in the works. This week, their social media memories are constantly reminding them of their time opening for The Unlikely Candidates last year.