Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is an American indie folk band formed in Los Angeles, California in 2007. Led by lead vocalist Alex Ebert, the group features a revolving lineup of up to 12 people. It began as a collaboration between Ebert and singer Jade Castrinos as part of a musical collective. Ebert’s live persona and the band’s name are based on the protagonist of a story he wrote, a messianic figure named Edward Sharpe. Drawing from roots rock, folk, gospel, and psychedelic music, the band’s image and sound evoke the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The group’s first show was played July 18, 2007 at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, California. Their first studio album, Up from Below, was released on July 7, 2009 on Community Records and featured the popular single “Home”. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released their second full-length album, Here, on May 29, 2012. Their third album, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, was released on July 23, 2013.
After years of the Los Angeles party life and subsequent drug addiction, Ima Robot frontman Alex Ebert broke up with his then-girlfriend, moved out of his house, and spent time in rehab. During this time, Ebert began to write a book about a messianic figure named Edward Sharpe that was “sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind, but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love.” Ebert adopted the Sharpe persona as his alter ego. He said, “I don’t want to put too much weight on it, because in some ways it’s just a name that I came up with. But I guess if I look deeper, I do feel like I had lost my identity in general. I really didn’t know what was going on or who I was anymore. Adopting another name helped me open up an avenue to get back.”
After meeting singer Jade Castrinos outside a Los Angeles cafe, Ebert and Castrinos started writing music together, and became a part of the art and music collective The Masses, which was partially started by some seed money from the late Heath Ledger. While the two had a romantic relationship that did not last, their fledgling group eventually swelled to more than 10 members, some of whom had been Alex’s friends since he was young. In mid 2009, Ebert, Castrinos, and a group of musicians toured the country by bus as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Their first show in 2009 was at the Marfa Film Festival in Marfa, Texas. The band recorded their debut album, Up From Below, in Laurel Canyon. Produced by Aaron Older and Nico Aglietti, it was released on July 14, 2009.