On July 23, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros return with their self-titled third LP, and the reach of the 10-person institution has spread beyond what anyone could have anticipated when they burst onto the scene in 2009. Though frontman Alex Ebert still has his alter-ego's name on the top of the bill, the band is functioning more like equals than ever, with Magnetic Zeros contributing to both the songwriting and the publicity.

Diffuser.fm had a chance to talk with accordionist Nora Kirkpatrick about being in one of the hardest-working groups of the last few years, and about their commitments to having fun together and keeping healthy.

How did you first meet Alex and end up getting involved with the Magnetic Zeros?

We met through friends, but we ended up really connecting at Burning Man, which is this crazy festival. That was about six years ago, and they knew I played music and asked me to come in and record. They were just putting everything together, and that was the recording of the first album.

It was a good fit right away? You got along with everyone?

Yeah. We became close friends quickly and started collaborating.

As far as the songwriting, does Alex come to the band with material in hand or do you guys participate in that part of the creative process?

The first album was a lot of stuff that he had written on his own, and then we recorded them as we were forming as a band. Since then, we've sort of evolved as a group, where someone will bring in a complete song, and everyone will learn it, or someone will bring in a seed of a song, and everyone will learn it. Or someone will bring a seed of a song and we'll all water that seed and see it grow into a song.

Oh, so all the members are now writing music for the band?

Yeah. That is definitely happening.

Do you take part in songwriting personally?

Yeah, and I also do a bit of film scoring on the side, which seems to be where my writing fits.

Tell me about the new album. What are you most excited for people to hear?

We're really exited about the new album. It's really rambunctious and crazy. We're really pushing our limits as musicians as well as performers. It's such a fun album to start performing, and we're just starting to fit it in here and there at shows. I couldn't be more excited about this album. It's beautiful.

And you guys are already on tour, right?

Yeah, we've been on tour for a month. We go to Europe in two days.

Talk about touring with that many people. Does it get a little close for comfort or is it an easy group to travel with?

It is a blast. It has its hardships, for sure, but I'd rather tour in a band with 10 people than with five or with three. You are constantly stimulated, and it's really like a traveling circus. It's so much fun.

The basis for the project involved Alex putting his old lifestyle behind him in favor of more healthy living. Is that reflected in the tour atmosphere?

Oh, we are the healthiest band you've ever met. There couldn't be a healthier band. We are all really conscious about everything. We have a trailer that carries our bikes. We have a juicer, and we are always juicing different vegetables. I mean, as I am speaking to you, I am in the vitamin section of Whole Foods.

You have to, though. There comes a certain point where if you are not keeping yourself healthy. You can't tour for four months straight and stay up til 3AM every night. You just won't have that energy on stage that you want to have, and you don't want the shows to suffer for that.

Touring so much, have you had the opportunity to fulfill any of your rock 'n' roll fantasies through meeting people or playing certain venues?

Well, we've toured with Mumford and Sons a lot. We are going to Europe with them in a couple days, and they've become such good friends of ours. They are always a great time. We just met Jim James the other day. He came on stage for a bit. We're really lucky to get to play with some amazing bands. Last night, we opened for the Violent Femmes. I don't know if you remember them, but it was awesome.

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