Following the release of their sophomore LP, Gossamer, Brooklyn via Cambridge indie pop band Passion Pit have been touring relentlessly, bringing their infectious hooks and shimmering synths to crowds around the world. Led by Buffalo raised Michael Angelakos, the band has continued to gain momentum since their 2009 debut, Manners, with their single "Take a Walk" being featured in advertisements as well as receiving radio airplay. In October of 2012, the band made their debut on Saturday Night Live and earlier this month headlined a show at New York's historic Madison Square Garden.
Returning to Western New York for the first time since March of 2010, Passion Pit will play Rochester's Main Street Armory tonight, headlining a bill featuring the always energetic indie pop duo Matt & Kim along with rising Swedish dance act Icona Pop. buffaBLOG was fortunate enough to catch up with Passion Pit bassist Jeff Apruzzese recently while the band had some down time in between legs of touring. The Berklee College of Music grad talked playing live, hectic touring, new music influences, doing after party DJ sets and explained what it means to play Madison Square Garden as a New York band.
Have you guys made any changes in your approach to playing live since Gossamer was released?
Jeff Apruzzese: It kind of changes every album cycle for the most part. Since day one this band has made it a mission statement in a way that we don’t want to be an electronic band that uses backing tracks. We want to be a band that actually plays all of the material. Triggering something up on the sampler to us is a lot more beneficial than having everything play on the backing track so that’s always a constant struggle and something that were doing complete planning for now.
Favorite track from Gossamer to play live?
JA: “I’ll Be Alright.” When I first heard Mike (Angelakos)’s demo of it, I thought it was a joke in a way, like there’s no way you can sing over this, there’s no way we’re going to be able to play this live, some parts are insane and the way they were recorded, they weren’t played in real time, like no one sat there and actually played those drum parts. It was like a kick sample, a snare sample, and then everything was arranged into this crazy drum pattern and then to recreate that I was just like holy shit. To me that song is always the most fun to play live.
You guys have Matt and Kim opening for you on this leg of your tour, how important do you think it is to have a high energy act start your shows off?
JA: The most recent tour we had this band Young Blood Hawke opening up for us and they were a really high energy dance band and I think it’s great to get the crowd pumped up and ready to go. I’m more of a believer of having an exciting band that makes me want to dance go on before the headliner versus some snoozers in front of you and hope that by the time the headliner goes on everyone’s super excited to hear them because they don’t want to hear any other music.
Is there any band whose live performance has influenced Passion Pit’s shows?
JA: A band that we’ve played shows with a few times and have been constantly blown away by is The Killers. I remember the first time we played with them, I think it was 2009 in London at Hard Rock Calling we were all blown away by every aspect of their show, their lighting is amazing. They sound amazing. Brandon Flowers is a true showman and he just has this amazing voice live. We were all blown away with how clean and crisp they sounded.
Who are some of your new favorite artists at the moment?
JA: I’ve been really into Disclosure, really into this producer xxyyxx. I’ve listened to a lot of dance music and Jazz lately, those have been my two main things I’ve been listening to. I just started listening to the new Dirty Projectors record, Swing Lo Magellan, and there’s just some really awesome songs on there. “About to Die,” that song is just so good. Another really good artist is TNGHT which is Lunice and Hudson Mohawke, that’s a big collaboration in that world and that project is just insane.
You’ve been doing a lot of DJ sets lately. How does your approach to DJing differ at all from performing with the band?
JA: The DJ sets are kind of just a way of expressing the music that Nate (Donmoyer) and I are listening to or remixes we’ve been working on. Everything for us is like a show by show basis. Even though we’ll have all these tracks ready and prepared to play, every time we almost go into it blind and try to play what we're in the mood to play or play whatever we think people are going to want to hear. There’s no definite answer to what I feel like a Passion Pit DJ set is per se. Sometimes it goes kind of awry, I guess people don’t really know what to expect from it, but for us, whenever we do it, we just want to have a good time. That’s the beauty of having these after parties and being able to DJ. After we get through playing a show, it’s like an open invitation for everyone to come hang out, dance, and unwind for the night.
I saw that you recently did a remix of a ZZ Ward track, how do you feel about other producers reinterpreting and remixing Passion Pit songs?
JA: We’ve had really long conversations about this pretty recently and it’s really cool, just like how we interpret remixes and take a song and put our taste on it, other producers will take Passion Pit songs and see what ideas and what kind of motifs and themes they work off of to sometimes create a completely new song. It’s a scary thing, you know, but I think it’s really cool to see how other people view it and how they interpret it and putting their voice on something.
Being from New York, how much does it mean to you to have an upcoming show at Madison Square Garden?
JA: Even if we weren’t from New York, globally, that’s a huge show. You can ask anyone, it doesn’t matter where you live, you tell someone you’re playing Madison Square Garden and it’s like a huge deal. This go around it was kind of a huge eye opener in that we pretty much had a pick of whatever venue we wanted to play and I think at first I was avoiding playing Madison Square Garden just because the impact that playing that venue holds. You think about the countless number of amazing shows that have happened there, how many live albums have been at MSG and just everything it means to play there added with the fact that we’re living in New York right now. I couldn’t think of a more iconic venue in terms of a milestone for a band to play.
You’ve been on tour for most of the past year, what do you most look forward to returning to when you get back to New York?
JA: I just moved here in August so it’s been really nice to have a break because I think the better half of last year I was only home for about six or seven days. For me personally, I really enjoy cooking and making coffee so I’ve just been sitting at home and making dinner for my girlfriend and making espresso. Being an amateur barista in my pajamas and reading books.
Do you guys have anything planned after this last leg of the tour, after the festival circuit?
JA: I don’t actually know what has been confirmed or what I’m allowed to say we’re doing but we definitely are going to be doing a lot of summer festivals, so I’m really looking forward to that. It doesn’t really seem to be slowing down in terms of us touring until next December.
Passion Pit with Matt & Kim and Icona Pop
Main Street Armory
900 E. Main Street Rochester, NY
Tickets $30 advance, $35 day of show