Interview: Passion Pit
HARRIET WADE and KATIE FORSTER meet the band PASSION PIT before their show at The Junction for a chat about life on tour, their music and whether they think they’ve ‘sold out’.
Passion Pit formed in 2007 and have since taken the world by storm with their bubbly brand of electro-synth pop.
Last July they released their second album, Gossamer, which has been eagerly pounced upon by TV producers and advertising executives alike: the track Where I Come From accompanies a scene in the new Twilight film.
The band are playing at The Junction just days before jetting off to Mexico to continue their tour. A roadie shows us into their dressing room where we meet Ian, the band’s guitarist and keyboard player.
He adjusts his hipster glasses, puts down his laptop and extends his hand for a semi-formal handshake. We sit down for a chat about being on tour, music and the band’s future.
Hi Ian, welcome to Cambridge. You’re from Cambridge, MA, right?
We’re not all from there, but that’s where the band started: the birthplace of Passion Pit.
How’s the tour going?
It’s been good! We’ve finally hit our stride again, after taking a break to record the new record. It’s definitely tiring and I hate being away from home for so long, but I do like it. Our show in Manchester the other night was pretty crazy, everyone was moshing to our slow songs which was weird but fun.
Do you prefer playing the new album or your old songs?
Right now I prefer Gossamer because I get to do more – there’s one song where I play three keyboards at once. I miss some of the songs from Manners though, we haven’t played Make Light in a long time and I love that one because I play guitar for the whole song… it’s like my rock song!
Do you still get the same buzz every time you perform?
Venues can definitely blend, especially on a long tour, but the set list is meant to wake you up – a couple of songs near the end of the main set always make us spring back into life. We do try and make sure no one falls asleep on us.
What’s the coolest place you’ve ever played a gig?
Maybe the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, because it’s such a historical and legendary venue. Playing Saturday Night Live was awesome too because I’ve watched it my entire life. The studio is a lot smaller and compact than it looks.
Do you party hard when you’re on tour?
Things are pretty tame right now to be honest. Our first UK tour was definitely a lot more rambunctious. We’ve all calmed ourselves down, as we’re in our late twenties now. Everyone’s pretty good natured, there’s never anything naughty, not really… we’re all good kids, for the most part.
How has your creative process changed from the one album to the next?
All our songs are written by Michael. His early songs were all synths and laptop noises. None of us were keyboard players, but we decided to learn keyboard and try to pull the songs off live. So when we started playing Manners we spent half the time just trying to figure out how to play each song. Now everyone’s a lot more comfortable and feels a lot more proficient with their instrument.
Your sound has been described as quite androgynous. Do you agree?
I still can’t believe that it’s Mike singing in his bedroom on his early records. He’s made his voice a little more masculine in the last few years, just for a change. I think he has an amazing voice, he doesn’t have to always have a high pitched trill thing going on.
Your music’s been used quite a lot commercially, to advertise Tacos, and most recently in the new Twilight film. How do you feel about that?
Ten years ago I would have been so mad at us for doing that – I’d have been like, ‘you guys sold out!’. But it’s just a way for more people to hear the music. Nowadays everyone can download anything in five seconds, so for us it’s a good thing. I haven’t actually seen the film yet, but I saw the scene with our song in it online.
Were you in America for the elections?
Yes. Our last show on the US tour, in Pittsburg, was on election night. It was pretty nerve-wracking. The results were on in the bar at the back of the venue so we were trying to peer over the audience’s heads to see what was going on. By the time we finished they had announced that Obama had won, so we all breathed a sigh of relief.
What are you listening to at the moment?
The new Bobby Womack record is cool. I’ve also been listening to LCD Soundsystem a lot. I didn’t go to their final concert, but I did go to one of the last five shows – they played for like three hours! Also this Icelandic guy named Ólafur Arnalds.
How do you think your sound is going to develop?
I don’t know, I’m curious. I would maybe like to have more of a band sound – to put the live sound from on stage more into the record instead of the other way around. It will be a while off before we release a new record though, we still have a lot of touring to do with this one.
Passion Pit’s latest album Gossamer is out now.