I'll Be Alright // The 405 meets Passion Pit
Missing: sensational once much hyped electro-indie band. Please return if found.
People were starting to get worried. Where exactly have Passion Pit been? Circa 2009, along with the likes of MGMT, they paved the way for the electro-indie movement that got every Tom, Dick and Horror incorporating synths into their band. But then they went away. No ludicrous second album like their neighbours MGMT. Just silence.
Now the group are finally back with album number two - Gossamer. It's still got their signature vocals and happy-go-lucky melodies, but lead singer Michael Angelakos reveals that this is just a mask for what's really under the surface. Behind the sunshine and dancing that many connect the band to lies a core so dark and troubled you'll understand the absence. Still overcoming mental health problems, the Passion Pit frontman reveals he hasn't just put his heart on display, he's put his sanity on show too.
You've been gone for a while. Where have you been?
We've been gone a year and a half...it's not really that long! But I guess today that seems long with singles coming out every couple of months. But I don't subscribe to that. I took time off, I needed to regroup.
You can hear your vocals more clearly on this record. Is this because you feel the lyrics should take the front seat this time?
The lyrics were never unimportant, they were always important. I was very frustrated because no one could ever really hear what I was saying because of the way the vocals were recorded. But the way the vocals were recorded became a staple of Passion Pit...that's now a sound. At the end of it it was almost like beating a dead horse, it's like we've got the sound now what do we do from there? Layering your vocals 40 times is a bit laborious and very hard to edit and make work. The lyrics are always important, but they come second to the music in pop, people are more interested in the beat and how the vocals work with the beat, as opposed to how the beat works with the vocals. I just think that this record is so personal that the dichotomy is accentuated. So we've got this really bright much more ambitious music that's Manners on steroids. Lyrically, it's a more reflective but less self-obsessed record. Less stuck in my head record. I'm proud to turn the mirror and include other people in the story.
The notion is that the second album is the hardest to record...
No, because I've recorded so many songs in my life and written so many more, I really didn't care. It's been three years since the last record, our fanbase has grown up three years and I think I've grown up three years. We're going to gain some fans, we're going to lose some fans, things have changed. It's not 2008 anymore, where synth pop was a burgeoning indie force. It's more or less kind of boring because everyone's doing it, it's like dubstep to me. How do you keep your old fans but make new ones - that was the hardest part. I was thinking about making sure all the fans that brought me to this place were satisfied because there is a duty to them. I hate it when bands don't give a shit about their fans. But I had to do something different, it has to show a different side to me. If there's backlash, I don't know what to say...sorry. If you want a thousand 'Sleepyheads' go listen to a bunch of bands rip it off. I can't provide that, I'm happy to grow and receive backlash from it because I would go insane if I didn't.
The subject matter of Hideaway is really touching, it's something that a lot of people can relate to: being so overcome with work and pressure that they can't take it on anymore...
I think being in the light is the hardest thing. I don't like it at all. I don't know what I think about being a frontman, I'm not sure. 'Hideaway' is based on a speech that a nurse gave me in the hospital, word for word what she told me. She told me "this is where you can be away from everything." It was so creepy, it was a terrible environment. I remember leaving there and them being like "we'll see you soon, because you're leaving too early." I was just thinking to myself this is so bad, this is not the way mental health should be dealt with! I'm trying to throw things in that'll rub people the wrong way, but if it's in the right place and time people will get it. I tried to just have a voice and talk about my life. It's completely non-fiction...dramatised maybe, it's brought to a theatrical point, but not to a point where I think it's detrimental to the music. I think all I wanted to do was give this music a lot of heart.
The music contradicts the lyrics a lot of the time. A melody can be really hopeful and pleasant, where as the lyrics are very dark...
It's human, isn't it? We're being really cordial and nice, but what if something just happened coming in, what if someone called you and said a loans defaulted or someone's breaking up with you and you're being nice to me and putting on face? That is exactly what I'm trying to capture with Passion Pit. I think capturing that with music is difficult, but a lot of people try to do it, like sad lyrics about breaking up. I have a really great relationship, that's the fantastic part about it. The sad part about it is I almost screwed it up by going insane. That's tragic...that's the definition of tragic, when something terrible happens to someone and the audience knows it's happening but the character doesn't. That's how I wanted to play out this record. I wanted people to see how things were going wrong. That contradiction is extremely important to Passion Pit's way of working.
Your fiancé's face is included in the artwork...
She's all over the booklet. She saved my life. The whole record is about our relationship during the making of the record. Kind of like an album about making an album and the problems of making an album under certain circumstances that make it very difficult to be in a relationship. She stuck by me till the end and that doesn't happen often. It's an ode to her, the whole album is dedicated to her. She gives me hope. I feel like if she exists then over people like her exist somewhere and they do things for people and keep them alive and keep them doing what they need to do. It was a very difficult time. Constant Conversations is a very difficult song..she can't listen to the record. I owe everything to her, she's just an amazing person. I said "why don't we do this '70s super intimate thing? I'm not putting you on display, it's very mirky. But I want you to be apart of this. It's beautiful, I think you're beautiful, I want this to be a beautiful booklet."
Gossamer is out now, and we throughly recommend you check it out.