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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' Vibe Is, "Whatever Feels Best Wins Out"

Edward Sharpe is fictional character from the whimsical mind of Alex Ebert, founding member of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The character was put here to save the world but is constantly distracted by perpetually falling in love. This is a sentiment that resonates with the ten-plus band members who shine under his moniker.

But love isn't all you need to coordinate a group of people that large, playing a broad range of instruments, and with all those personalities! So how do they do it? In anticipation of their upcoming show at West Palm Beach's SunFest, accordion player Nora Kirkpatrick let New Times in on the respect and personal space involved in writing, traveling, and living with such a huge band but also how she can't imagine doing those things any other way.

New Times: How hard is it to coordinate ten-plus people to collaborate on music?

Nora Kirkpatrick: It has its challenges, but we've smoothed the edges by this point. Usually someone will bring a nugget of a song or an idea and the rest of the group will help flesh out the idea by adding their respective instrument parts. Alternately, someone will present their song in full demo form; then we just figure out the best way to play them live.

Everyone can't always be on the same page all the time, so when there's a disagreement, how do you get past that as far as sound and composition goes? What's the secret to getting along?

Being respectful and understanding that we all need our alone time as well. Oddly enough, we all get along great and find there is so much to learn from traveling with such a big group -- unlike in a small band, where you end up hanging out with the same people every day -- which keeps tours interesting. We are all pretty good about communicating our needs and often tend to be on the same page with musical preferences and the "sound of the band." Whatever feels best wins out.

Does everyone have a share in writing the songs?

Alex and Jade [Castrinros] do a majority of the writing in this band, but we often play everyone else's songs as well. There are really no rules. We collaborate musically as a band on everything.

Out of all of the instruments that make up your band, which one would you say is the most crucial or most defines your sound? Sets you apart?

Accordion. You don't see that many accordion players, and the sound is so distinct. I'm running it through pedals now to expand its horizons.

Do you prefer to play festivals or smaller shows?

Festivals are great for seeing other bands, which I rarely get to do on tour. But smaller shows are more intimate, and the crowd is usually 100 percent there to see you, unlike festivals.

What about SunFest are you guys looking forward to?

I'm excited to see Kendrick Lamar, and the weather in Florida isn't too shabby.

Whatever happened to Edward Sharpe? Does he end up saving the world, or does he forever just fall in love?

You'll have to ask Alex that...

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, at SunFest 2013. With Smashing Pumpkins, Kendrick Lamar, Train, and others. 5 p.m. May 1, through May 3, and noon May 4, and May 5 at 525 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $30 to $69 plus fees. Call 561-659-5980, or visit sunfest.com.

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C. Townsend Rizzo

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