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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The L.A. indie folk band Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes has been described as looking like something of a hippie cult when they're on stage. Every cult should have a leader and this one's would be Edward Sharpe, whose real name is Alex Ebert. He has a long beard, long unkempt hair, and he often doesn't wear a shirt, or even shoes. During shows, he dances around in circles shaking a tambourine. This call could seem like an act, but when he recently came into NPR West, he looked and acted the same as he does on stage.

ALEX EBERT: There is no character, you know. I'm trying to be the most open, empowered-by-the-universe version of myself that I can summon. 'Cause honestly, otherwise being onstage is torture.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HOME")

GREENE: The hippie sensibility only goes so far, though. Aside from getting radio play and multiple uses in TV shows and movies, you may have also heard Edward Sharpe in commercials for IKEA, Ford, or even the NFL...

(SOUNDBITE OF NFL COMMERCIAL)

EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROES: (Singing) Ah, home. Let me come home. Home is wherever I am with you.

EBERT: There's no place like home. Get your tickets today at NFL.com.

GREENE: OK. So the audience at Edward Sharpe concerts is young is young - a lot of teenagers and twenty-somethings, but the atmosphere can seem downright pre-schoolish. Ebert is fond of asking concert goers to sing along, and to sit down, whereupon he goes into the audience and sits down himself, in the middle of everyone. He really wants to be the anti-rock star. But it wasn't always that way.

EBERT: The irony is that I had already come from many years of performing as something in some ways and sort of snarling and refusing to smile and appropriating in every rock star sort of cliche that I could.

GREENE: What he's describing there was in his previous band, Ima Robot, when he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. He eventually completed a 12-step program and formed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes around 2006. It was a way to help return to a better time in his life.

EBERT: I was trying to abandon everything to get back to who I was and who I wanted to be when I much, much younger, when I was like five or something.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THAT'S WHAT'S UP")

ZEROES: (Singing) Forever. That's what's up. We've been friends forever. My darling. That's my darling, forever...

GREENE: Though many Edward Sharpe songs are childlike, with their sing-alongs, whistling, and hard to forget melodies - the lyrics can get dark.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAN ON FIRE")

ZEROES: (Singing) Over heartache and rage, come set us free. Over panic and strange.

EBERT: "Man on Fire," for instance, springs from defiance against all the trappings of society and anxiety and that it says murder, pain, heartache, shame, all that, all that stuff. And to really shape the layers and to expose and dance.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAN ON FIRE")

ZEROES: (Singing) I'm a man on fire walking down your street with one guitar, two dancing feet.

GREENE: The new album from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes is called "Here."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAN ON FIRE")

ZEROES: (Singing) I want the whole damn world to come and dance with me.

GREENE: And you're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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