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Author Topic: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)  (Read 114885 times)

lala

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #465 on: October 06, 2013, 11:55:02 AM »

I actually read that last night and cringed a few times.
Yeah, ehhh.  It didn't really say anything we haven't heard before.

I did like Ben's quote.  I put it on my tumblr.
Wait, from the interview I posted last on here?  I don't see that quote in the interview. Is there another one?

last full paragraph
And there it is.  Wow.

What night are MGMT playing in Louisville??
HAHAHAAAA!!!  I know, I kept saying Thursday.  But it's Friday.  Definitely Friday.

Just dye it blonde Lisa...that's what I did  :-*
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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #467 on: October 08, 2013, 06:23:35 PM »

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #468 on: October 09, 2013, 06:37:11 PM »

http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/artsvibe/this-band-is-not-for-turning-245745.html

MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser wouldn’t change a thing. Three years ago he and Andrew VanWyngarden, his musical other half, released an opinion-splitting second album, Congratulations. Angry and obtuse, it was an ill-tempered retreat from the chart friendly swagger of their 2008 debut, Oracular Spectacular. Fans and critics were confused – many loathed Congratulations. The backlash rumbled on and on and, it could be argued, continues to this day.

“We learned a lesson,” Goldwasser sighs. “We are still very happy with Congratulations. Ultimately it’s not a very positive record. We were disorientated and disillusioned — that comes across in the music. A lot of the lyrics are about being in a band.”

Bloodied and battered by reviewers, Congratulations did not sell well and the case can be made that MGMT’s popularity never recovered. The subject is foremost on Goldwasser’s mind this morning as he and VanWyngarden are about to unveil a follow-up. Heavily influenced by late 1960s British psychedelia, MGMT is a fine LP, albeit not nearly as catchy as their early output. On a promotional trip to Berlin, Goldwasser is uncertain as to how it will be received.

“This time around we did not want to write an introverted record,” he says, “We were eager to create a body of work that was looking outward more, that was grounded in the real world. We took a year off and it did us all the good in the world.”

He is right. MGMT is much lighter and less hermetic than Congratulations. However, anyone expecting a return to giddy, glitter-splashed smashes such as ‘Time To Pretend’ or ‘Kids’ may feel let down. That MGMT is gone and isn’t coming back.

“It is not something we are interested in,” says Goldwasser, 30, an amiable but rather wary native of Essex County, New York. “I understand that, for some people, those are the best songs we ever did. We want to try new ideas. It isn’t good to be tied down by your past. I think MGMT is the best record we have made. We are very proud. And I hope it finds an audience that appreciates it as much as we do. It is ridiculous that anyone would compare the music we are making now to what we did 10 years ago.”

Goldwasser and VanWyngarden met in 2003 at Wesleyan College, a preppy third level institution in leafiest Connecticut. From sensible, middle class families they bonded over their shared love of alternative music and fratboy partying (their early press was dominated by breathless tales of naked dorm-room gigs and freewheeling undergrad jinks).

Eventually they tired of goofing around and grew serious about songwriting. When several hissy demos found their way to Columbia Records, MGMT were snapped up. Nine months later, Oracular Spectacular was released, ‘Time To Pretend’ became a monster radio hit, and life was never the same again.

They recorded MGMT in rural New York, at the facility owned by Flaming Lips producer David Fridmann. They’d collaborated with Fridmann previously. “We had never before made the whole record in a studio with him. Dave brings out the best in us,” says Goldwasser. “He encourages us to go in new directions, to not limit ourselves. On the other hand, he lets us know if he thinks we are full of shit. We trust him to the nth degree.”

In an era of plummeting music sales Oracular Spectacular was a notable success for Columbia and its parent company Sony. You wonder what executives make of MGMT’s continued determination not to be a commercial act.

“They don’t interfere, I’m sure some artists are put under external pressure by their record companies. We have always had complete freedom. We’re not interested in hits for their own sake. The idea of working with a big producer would be an anathema to us. It would be like we’d sold our souls.”

You’d have to suspect Goldwasser and VanWyngarden genuinely found overnight stardom an ordeal. Worse than that, as ‘Kids’ and ‘Time To Pretend’ became hits, they started to attract a mainstream following – audiences went to their shows expecting a pop group, not an experimentalist double-act. You suspect it was these people they had in mind when they wrote Congratulations’ most notorious cut: the dissonant, 11-minute quasi-instrumental ‘Siberian Breaks’. It was less a song than an attempt to dissuade the wavering listener.

“The most frustrating aspect is individuals going to the concerts expecting one experience while we are presenting ourselves in a completely different way, ” says Goldwasser. “We see ourselves as a band that likes to take chances and improvise live and not play tracks the same way very night. It is annoying if they just want to come and hear ‘the hits’ and won’t tolerate a noise jam in the middle.

“‘Kids’ in particular was a tune we used to play in college to 30 people. For it to go from a song nobody heard, a song nobody judged us for, to a piece of music fans felt they had ownership over and that we were defined by was extremely strange. On the other hand, we understand a lot of people wouldn’t have heard of us it wasn’t for it.”

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lala

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #469 on: October 09, 2013, 08:25:50 PM »

http://www.fasterlouder.com.au/reviews/music/37228/MGMT-MGMT

by Edward Sharp-Paul

Mon 7th Oct, 2013 in Music Reviews

Culled from endless hours of studio jamming, the songs that comprise MGMT’s third, self-titled album belie the method of their creation by sounding just like the Brooklyn duo always sound – pop songs, smeared with a layer of proggy, psychedelic sludge. In this, way, MGMT is a revelation.

Having courted one of the biggest backlashes I can recall with “difficult” second album Congratulations, MGMT proves that MGMT aren’t just toying with us, that there is a characteristic tone embedded in their work, regardless of the superficial fluctuations that caused all that angst. What I’m trying to say is that MGMT combines the expansive sonics of Oracular Spectacular with the thorny, complex songcraft of Congratulations, and the hooks that have been there all along. The result is a very good album, albeit one that might take a good dozen listens to get one’s head around.

While the acerbic ‘Your Life Is A Lie’ and ‘Plenty Of Girls In The Sea’ give up their peculiar charms fairly easily, the best moments, like ‘Alien Days’ and ‘Mystery Disease’, come a little slower. Possessing a seemingly bottomless textural depth, they recall Syd Barrett in their intermingling of the childlike and the sinister – though with filtered, bad-acid synth tones instead of acoustic guitars – with sing-song melodies floating above shape-shifting, disorienting arrangements, and producer Dave Fridmann’s trademark booming drums.

The overriding sense is not that MGMT are figuring out their strengths – they’ve always been apparent – but that they’re figuring out how to balance them for maximum effect. MGMT is the work of a pop band, but one that’s never happier than when they’re burying their pop just out of sight.
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lala

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #470 on: October 09, 2013, 08:42:49 PM »

I don't feel that it's right to post a partial review.  That being said, please forgive the ignorance of the author's opinion of Congratulations.

MGMT: MGMT
by Joshua Levine
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MGMT: MGMT
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Brooklyn duo MGMT showed up too late in the electro revival to be considered artistically important. But their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, and its trifecta of hit singles were as perfect as pop music got in 2008. Nevertheless, the group was unhappy with their perceived insignificance and returned in 2010 with Congratulations, either an ill-conceived attempt at credibility or a grand prank on MGMT's pop fans. Neither explanation made the record successful, resulting in one song worthy of their debut, the gorgeous title track. The rest of the album was bloated prog rock, and profoundly boring.

MGMT splits the difference between their first two albums by combining the song craft of Oracular and the experimental instrumentation of Congratulations, along with its song-cycle feel. This album is a sleeper; it lures you in gently and ends up being a place worth staying. "Alien Days" begins at a leisurely pace, dynamically building intensity until its winding, whimsical melody sticks. "Cool Song No. 2" follows in the same formula, as does the slightly menacing "Mystery Disease."

The laid-back moodiness ends with the single "Your Life Is a Lie," which is innocuous and vapid on its own, but in the context of the album, its short electro punk blast is climactic and exhilarating. Then the cycle restarts. "Astro-Mancy" and "I Love You Too, Death" are unsettling paranoia drones, while the glam slam "Plenty of Girls in the Sea" repeats the trick of "Your Life Is a Lie." While MGMT isn't a masterpiece, it is a triumph, and after Congratulations, that's more than enough.
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lala

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #471 on: October 11, 2013, 08:40:15 AM »

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/entertainment/music/9267428/MGMT-MGMT

It's been acclaim all the way for MGMT, who've managed an intelligent balancing act with that difficult beast known as psychedelic rock.

Their previous release, Congratulations, let them blow off some steam; this one veers back towards tie-die territory, jumping right into the deep end with the lysergic swirl of Introspection and the smothering synths of A Good Sadness.

They sound like they've been self-consciously swotting up on hippie folk in Alien Days, and Mystery Disease has all sorts of bells and whistles.

But they still have one eye firmly fixed on rock, which helps to keep things disciplined, from the steely Your Life Is A Lie to the silky dark spaces of Astro-mancy, and they even have enough confidence to attempt something like the ticking, groaning menace of I Love You Too, Death.

Best tracks: Introspection, I Love You Too, Death.

- © Fairfax NZ News
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Fairytale of Hurt

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #472 on: October 11, 2013, 12:51:41 PM »

http://svenska.yle.fi/artikel/2013/10/11/mgmt-more-g-strings-more-trouble

I'll leave the translation up to you.  But I like the play on MGMT standing for More G-strings More Trouble.
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Fairytale of Hurt

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #473 on: October 13, 2013, 03:34:46 PM »

The google translation of this one is horrible but if you'd like to try...

http://blog.xoxothemag.net/post/63638871974/mgmt
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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #474 on: October 13, 2013, 04:45:22 PM »

Lots of details on their recording gear and the whole recording process. I know it's hard to see it here so you can read it better in the link starting on page 16.  http://issuu.com/franciscojgp/docs/electronic_musician_november_2013







Insert:
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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #476 on: October 23, 2013, 10:35:09 PM »

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lala

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #477 on: November 14, 2013, 03:53:22 PM »


MGMT
Fated to Confuse
Nov 14, 2013 By Matt Fink Photography by Ray Lego    ISSUE #47 - SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013 - MGMT
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"This is our decision/To live fast and die young/We've got the vision/Now let's have some fun." Those words, taken from MGMT's 2008 breakout single "Time to Pretend," have become a rallying cry of sorts, a party-'til-you-die anthem for people who want to dream big and party defiantly. Written by multi-instrumentalists Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser while they were seniors at Wesleyan College in the early 2000s, the song appears on the surface to be poking fun at a checklist of rock star clichés—the girls, the drugs, the money—and the realization that such a life of excess was only a fantasy, that they were "fated to pretend" that it could ever be theirs. Read deeper, though, and perhaps the song isn't about rock star wannabes and their unattainable daydreams as much as it is about two college kids making fun of people who would want such a life in the first place, a satirical swipe at those who want to live (and die) a cliché. Maybe the song isn't serious at all. Maybe the song is a joke.

Whatever their intentions, the reality is that, in a spooky self-actualization kind of way, "Time to Pretend" came true. MGMT did become rock stars, selling two million copies of their debut full-length (2007's Oracular Spectacular) while they dated models, did drugs, toured the world, and managed to have an indecent amount of fun without dying young. But if the song was prescient in envisioning where the band was going, it didn't anticipate the part where the now-successful rock stars had to make a second album, 2010's Congratulations. Nor did it imagine that second album pissing off a large portion of the band's fan base, puzzling many critics, and taking a commercial nosedive after a strong opening week, its focus on experimentation and sonic exploration frustrating those who wanted more radio singles. If "Time to Pretend" was at least partly a joke, some saw Congratulations as the punch line. And some started to think that MGMT had such a lust for the reckless self-destruction expressed in that song that they were intentionally throwing everything away.

"I'm sure that's what some people were thinking about," admits VanWyngarden. "At some point in college we would joke about this big fantasy of getting as popular as possible and then destroying it in this bombastic and crazy fashion. Even if it was a joke, that little seed of a fantasy, some people would pick up on that and see us putting out an album like Congratulations as fulfilling that kind of prophecy. That was the twisted part, like, 'No, actually this is the first time we've sat down and made music that we feel is like a really honest and deep and personal reflection, and it's more of an artistic statement than we've ever made before.' But the good thing from all of that worry and woe is that in the end, we were able to come out of it proving ourselves as a band that is not going to be so easy to categorize or fit into any specific sound or style. And the reward of the fight was to allow ourselves as artists to have more freedom and do whatever we want. I mean, why wouldn't we want to fight for that?"

The fight did not end with the mixed reception of Congratulations, however. Where "Time to Pretend" couldn't have anticipated the struggle of delivering a successful second album, it also didn't predict that MGMT would arrive at a point where their third album would have so much hanging on it, positioning them at a creative crossroads that would either push them back towards their crowd-pleasing anthems of their debut or push them deeper into the creative weeds. With MGMT, they double down on the latter.

"Andrew and I were talking about how everyone that we played it for at first was really into it, but they were also saying, 'Wow! This is the best record that you've made so far, but you need to write a hit or something that people are going to grab onto,'" says Goldwasser on a sunny Santa Monica morning, a few hours before he has to board a flight to Milwaukee for the band's appearance at a festival. "And, at first, we were thinking maybe they were right. Maybe we do need to do that. But then at a certain point we realized that maybe we didn't need to do that, because so far everyone we've talked to has liked it. I think it's more that people are thinking about what other people are going to think, but I don't know who those other people are. For us, we made a record that we're really proud of and that we think is really accessible, even if it doesn't have obvious hit songs on it."

That might be an understatement, as apart from trippy space-rock of first single "Alien Days," it's hard to imagine any of the 10 songs on MGMT having any future on Top 40 radio or in a TV commercial. If Congratulations was daringly experimental, especially for a band that had a lot to lose, MGMT is the sound of a band that has weathered those losses and is ready to roll the dice on what they have left. Built out of hundreds of hours of improvised studio jams and abstract song fragments, it's an entrancing, often confusing, and ultimately rewarding song cycle—if you have the time (or patience) to peel back its layers of content. Though it is largely electronic, it is not exactly an electronic album. Often surreal and hallucinogenic, it's not exactly a psychedelic album, either.

"I try not to read too much press, because I get self-conscious, but I was quoted as saying it's not a record that people will understand the first time they hear it," Goldwasser explains. "And I feel like that's a horrible context to put that in, because it makes it seem pretentious in some way. But I believe that's true; I don't think it's possible to really understand it the first time, but I think that's because it changes every time you hear it. It's not like there's this moment where it's like, 'Aha! I get it.' It's more like it takes some time to appreciate what's going on."

The question, then, isn't whether MGMT have made their most visionary and challenging album—they have. The question is: will anyone other than their most ardent fans be up to the challenge?

Every Stranger Is A Ghost
Andrew VanWyngarden is back at the hotel after a rainy sound check in Milwaukee, asking whether it's safe to eat a steak that he forgot to put in the refrigerator the night before. The hotel, VanWyngarden says, is  rumored to be haunted, though he doesn't seem to be particularly concerned. "There were a couple of channels on the TV that were crazy, like melting and psychedelic, but I don't think that had anything to do with haunting activity," he says between bites of rib-eye. "I think it was just a bad satellite signal."

VanWyngarden says he doesn't believe in ghosts, but the album he just made is a haunted, if not spooky, release. The textures are kaleidoscopic, spectral synthesizer lines stacked on top of each other in a blurry smear of sonic colors. The rhythms are hypnotic and trancey, with multiple time signatures intersecting in small and barely perceptible ways. VanWyngarden's writing, too, has an eerily existential quality, ditching the winking satire and pop culture references of past releases in favor of ruminations on death ("I Love You, Too, Death"), examinations of drug addiction ("Mystery Disease"), and critiques of unexamined lives ("Your Life is a Lie"). Throughout, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden are the ghosts tangled in the buzzing and whirring machines, the latter's vocals floating just above the fray, stoic and distant, tracing the outline of each song's subtle melodic shifts. But if the album ended up taking them into unfamiliar territory, it started where the others did, right at home.

Beginning work as a duo in their Brooklyn studio in late 2011, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser started writing as they had done before, building songs off of chord progressions and riffs. Soon, they had the album's first single, "Alien Days," a track which sounds like the culmination of their other albums, a surreal space-rock epic complete with darkly theatrical choruses swirling around sighing, sing-songy verses that VanWyngarden says tell the tale of a "less sinister-type parasite" that controls human behavior. But other songs written through that conventional process lacked the spark they were seeking and were soon abandoned. Further conversations about possible directions for the album yielded no consensus. So, in lieu of having a clear direction, they simply began making music, compiling hours and hours of improvisation—some melodic and pretty, some harsh and dissonant, none of it structured—in hopes that something would provide a clear direction in which they could channel their creative energy. Free from the conventions of writing songs based around verses, choruses, and bridges, they found their new ideas were odd and exciting in a way that they hadn't been since they started the band nearly a decade earlier.

"And then there was a moment when I was thinking, 'Wait a minute. It's not like this is this other thing that we're doing, and then we're going to go write some songs. This is way more fun and exciting than trying to be all stiff and methodical about the whole thing. We should just enjoy it,'" Goldwasser says of their soft-focus jam sessions. "We didn't really know when we started working on the album, because we thought we were just having some fun in the studio and that it would turn into something else, and before we knew it we had already recorded a lot of the music on the album."

So even if they didn't know exactly what album they wanted to make yet, they knew how they wanted to make it, and they soon packed up their gear and headed to producer Dave Fridmann's Tarbox Road Studios in upstate New York. Having recorded Oracular Spectacular with Fridmann back in 2007 (as well as having him engineer Congratulations), VanWyngarden and Goldwasser had someone who could help them bring some order to what was becoming a wholly unwieldy collection of sounds. With so much material to sort through, what did they hope to find?

"It's not going to help clear that up, but they wanted to be able to surprise themselves," Fridmann says in answer to that question. "They're both excellent traditional musicians. You could say, 'Okay, here's a chart,' or 'Here's how the song goes. Follow the changes. Go!' And they'd just be able to pick it up and play. It wouldn't be any big deal. And on any instrument—they both play drums, they both play the keyboards, they both play the guitars. It doesn't matter. So it's hard to surprise yourself if you're in that position. So that was really the key to them in the creative process—somehow backing into something that was like, 'Oh. Well, I didn't know that was going to happen. I never could have imagined that you'd play that chord before the chord I'm playing. Now we're playing all 12 notes at once, but I like it. Let's go!'"

Though VanWyngarden and Goldwasser are quick to acknowledge they are very different people both in and out of the studio, they appear to share the common goal of reaching their listener through the art of surprise. Just as they are opposites in physical appearance, they are also opposites in conversation. Charming, distractible, and often flashing a mischievous sense of humor, VanWyngarden is a natural entertainer, charismatic, and engaging. He is also prone to occasionally saying things he probably shouldn't, such as when he, apparently jokingly, suggested in a 2010 interview with Scottish newspaper The Daily Record that Columbia wasn't pleased with MGMT's dwindling record sales and would be more involved with their future creative decisions. (Not true, he says, noting that the label has been unfailingly supportive and immediately loved the new record.) Goldwasser, on the other hand, is focused, polite, and extraordinarily careful, answering nearly every question with a humble "I don't know" before offering a succinct elaboration. In conversation, they make an odd pair. In the studio, their personalities balance each other in ways that allow them to pull in different directions but to ultimately wind up at the same end point. Fridmann got to see that relationship work itself out in real time.

"In terms of what is currently interesting them, Ben is obviously very focused on the technology component of it, and Andrew is focused on just the feel part of it more than anything else," Fridmann explains. "It's great, because they also work in a wonderful way of complementing each other. If we're looking at a technical problem, Ben will be like, 'Well, I know how to get this sound. I need to do this, that, and the other, and then we'll be in the right place.' But knowing all the technology doesn't necessarily mean you'll find the right sound, and Andrew will come over and hit 10 switches that you're not supposed to touch and be like, 'Wait. That gives me a new idea. Let's try this other sound!' And they'll go off in some other direction. That same goes for Ben. Andrew will be sitting there going, 'I don't know. It just doesn't feel right!' And Ben will come up with, 'Well, see, we just need to do this chord and that chord, and now we've got a progression that travels through there and makes the melody make sense.' And then we're onto it."

In that way, MGMT is the sound of Goldwasser's head and VanWyngarden's heart combining to create something that is both cerebral and impulsive, engaging and often bewildering. Hearing them describe it, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden appear confident that, quirks and all, listeners will accept their new album for what it is. Unfortunately, they thought that the last time, too.



We Like To Watch You Laughing

In the summer of 2009, MGMT were on top of the world. They had opened shows for everyone from M.I.A. and Beck to Radiohead and Paul McCartney, adding each of them as fans in the process. They had toured around the world, earned Grammy nominations, and were knee-deep in their sophomore release, recording in Malibu with Spaceman 3's Pete Kember, a hero of theirs. For a band that had three years earlier been more or less defunct, it was a stunning change of luck. And VanWyngarden knows the exact   moment that their luck began to turn.

"It was a headline of an article," he says with a sigh. "We hadn't even finished the album yet, and it was an in-the-studio preview piece in Q Magazine in England. And they had done some phone interview with us, and we were still writing the album, so there are times with any artist when you're in the studio and all you're really doing is listening to it and making it up, you're not sure if it's good or bad or what it sounds like or what people are going to think about it. I think that's good and healthy to have that feeling, but it's not the best feeling to try to describe to the journalist from England. So here we are on the phone, and he's asking us about our new album, and we're like, 'Oh, I don't know. We can't tell. Maybe it's terrible.' And when they wrote the headline of the article, the title was 'MGMT: How is your new album? "Terrible."' And from that moment, it set everything in motion, every magazine running with this whole idea that we were trying to intentionally destroy our fan base or that it was a 'fuck you' to somebody. Just watching that unfold was not fun for us."

Generally, there were three kinds of responses to Congratulations. First, there were those who were either confused or disappointed, many of them fans and music critics who had championed the band, all of them lamenting the fact that MGMT hadn't written any pop hits on the level of "Time to Pretend," "Kids," or "Electric Feel." Second, there was a smaller (or perhaps less vocal) group who liked Congratulations from the start, praising it as a refinement of the psychedelic half of Oracular Spectacular and a boldly weird step for a band that could have cashed in on their reputation. Then there was a third group, made up of those who didn't really know what to make of the album but ultimately listened to it enough that they eventually appreciated its eccentricities. Listening to VanWyngarden and Goldwasser, one gets the impression that this response was the most satisfying. Still, as much as it has been speculated that they welcomed the criticism that greeted Congratulations, it's apparent that the backlash stings, even today.

"I think it was a pretty obvious reflection of how the world is," Goldwasser says, "and the people with the loudest voices during that time were the people who were being snarky and complaining that we didn't write another 'Kids.' You know, whatever. We know a lot of people got the second record and got really into it. I guess it was just a learning process for us. At first, it was really disappointing, and we didn't really understand why so many people were saying negative things. But we learned to shut that out, and after a year a lot of people came around to it and started saying really nice things about it. I feel like at this point we've learned not to care too much about that stuff."

The fact that the album sold only one-third as many copies as Oracular Spectacular in the United States attests to the damage done through mixed reviews and negative word-of-mouth. But if Columbia Records was disappointed, they can't say they weren't warned that MGMT wouldn't be interested in remaking Oracular Spectacular over and over until no one wanted to hear it anymore. In fact, when they were signed to a record contract on the strength of their first two EPs, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden told the label just that.

"We were very adamant about that, even then," VanWyngarden says. "Because we knew. We weren't that dumb. We knew that they liked 'Kids' and 'Time to Pretend,' and they knew they had a chance to be popular songs, but even then, in 2006, it was three or four years after we'd written those songs, and we'd already gone through college, where they were minor on-campus popular tracks. We were already over those songs, and we were trying to convince our A&R woman not to put 'Kids' on our first album," he says, laughing. "That gives you a bit of an idea of why the negative reaction to the last album was frustrating for us, because we were pegged from the get-go as electro-pop, and I don't think we'd ever want to deny that portion of our fans or that it's part of us, because it's a major part of us. We appreciate that side, too. But even the first meetings with the label, we were like, 'Are you sure? You know, we're going to make some weird psychedelic prog-rock sounds.'"

Though both VanWyngarden and Goldwasser are careful not to portray any of their early singles as stylistic outliers rather than the songs that they are still most associated with, the college kids who wrote those songs bear little resemblance to the 30-year-olds who made MGMT. In fact, listening to the band's evolution, one has to wonder if the band that made those seminal tracks was ever really the band they wanted to be. Ask them what drew them together in the first place, and they both point to their mutual love of music, an appreciation for the outdoors, and a shared sense of humor. Put two of those three things together, and you get the early MGMT tracks. But were the songs jokes?

"Not jokes. 'Jokes' is the wrong word," VanWyngarden says, correcting himself for using that word moments earlier. "For instance, 'Kids.' Ben wrote the music for that one on his own, and he told me he was out at a party at college and came back to his dorm room and was a little drunk and wrote that song and the music as a joke to himself, like 'What's the stupidest pop progression I can think of?' And then he played it for me, and I wrote lyrics really quickly, and we performed it on my birthday when I turned 20. And the first time we played it, we put a section in the middle that was an extended instrumental section that sounded a lot like 'Jump' by Van Halen or something like that. And we put in these sound effects of ice hockey, so it was ice skates slashing along and pucks and crowds cheering, and in the middle of the song we got hockey sticks and a hockey puck and went and played in the crowd. You couldn't really call it a crowd. I think it was six or seven people. So that's the kind of stuff we ended up doing a lot in our live performances in college."

VanWyngarden's tone brightens when telling these stories, and it's obvious that he has a lot of them. How about the first time he and Goldwasser performed together in public, clearing the room of all but one audience member with a 45-minute version of the Ghostbusters theme song? Or the time he and Goldwasser, then freshmen, had the audacity to disrupt a dorm talent show by secretly recording another band as they played, and then using their keyboard amp to blast that band with manipulated versions of their own music while they were still onstage? Or how about the story of how "Time to Pretend" was originally entitled "The Mantis Sailing Home," a tribute to a pet praying mantis whose eggs hatched and inundated VanWyngarden and his roommates with hundreds of baby mantises? Then called "The Management," they were performance artists as much as musicians, and the world was ripe for their satire.

"I don't think we were trying to be GG Allin provocative or anything like that," Goldwasser says, "but I think we really enjoyed playing pop music in order to make fun of pop music, and at the same time, we love pop and appreciate it and love dance parties and whatever. But a lot of the willfully stupid elements of pop music are really funny and fun to poke fun at, and I don't think there was a moment when we decided to become a serious band or something like that. But I think we did get a little sick of irony and not being able to be totally sincere at any point. I'm kind of bored of music that's insincere. I like music that has elements of satire in it, but I feel like you can have that even though you're getting at something real and sincere. I think it was kind of surprising to us that a lot of people didn't get the joke. 'Time to Pretend,' which is definitely not a song that's advising people to forget about the world and party all the time, became known for that. That wasn't necessarily the message that we were trying to express."

That said, even if VanWyngarden and Goldwasser weren't writing joke songs, they also weren't thinking of MGMT as a serious project quite yet. By 2005, they had graduated college, had released two EPs, and had toured as an opening act for of Montreal, but just a year later they were on an unofficial hiatus with no plans to make any more music. Having relocated to Brooklyn, VanWyngarden was writing songs with of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes and had essentially joined his band as a guitarist, even going so far as to do press photos with them for an upcoming tour. Goldwasser wasn't doing music at all, having decided to pursue a career in social work, setting his eyes on relocating to New Orleans. Then Maureen Kinney, an A&R rep at Columbia, was given a copy of their Time to Pretend EP and emailed the band to express her desire to offer them a contract. VanWyngarden, thinking it was spam, deleted it.

Luckily, the band's manager received a copy of the email as well, and alerted VanWyngarden that it was actually real, leaving him to begin the process of tracking down Goldwasser to convince him to give music another shot. After persuading Goldwasser that a major label contract was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he reluctantly returned. But there was one final issue to deal with: there was already a band called "The Management."

"And that was the first moment that we had to behave like an actual band, because legally we couldn't have the same name, so we had to think of ourselves like a real band," VanWyngarden says. "With the name change came this rush, especially once we were signed to Columbia and we were writing songs for our first album, and we had to think of ourselves as a band. We couldn't write a whole album of joke songs, so that's when we started transitioning into what music we would really want to make and play for people. That was a big turning point."

Now a real band, the newly christened MGMT took their major label money and headed to Dave Fridmann's studio in the spring of 2007, giddy to be working with the legendary Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev producer. At first hesitant to put those future hit singles on the album, they ended up building the rest of the album around more distorted versions of them, writing a new batch of songs that would begin the shift from college pranksters to burgeoning psych-pop auteurs.

"What I always find humorous is that what people think Oracular Spectacular isn't what Oracular Spectacular is," Fridmann says. "That is not a dance record. That is not a club record. That is not a dance band or an electronic band. Those songs have tons of big distorted drum kits on them. That is not club music. People got this idea of what it is, but they're not listening to it. I still get people who come in and say, 'Make it sound like MGMT' and I'll start distorting stuff, and they'll say 'What are you doing?' Well, did you listen to the record?"

As we know, Oracular Spectacular blew up in the way few albums do, selling two million records and positioning MGMT at the odd intersection of mainstream pop ubiquity and hipster chic. By the time they got around to writing their follow-up, they decided to work as a full band, bringing their touring group into the studio for an album that was both a daring exercise in art-rock extravagance and a weary assessment of their lives as rock stars. But having had so much success in such a short period of time, they had forgotten their warning to Columbia a few years earlier. Congratulations was that weird prog-rock album they had once promised they'd make, but they no longer remembered why such albums carry a risk for both label and artist.

"The second album was the first time that we started from scratch—no songs, nothing," VanWyngarden recalls. "We were going to make something completely new that represented us at the time.... I think we were too far immersed in it to realize that there were things that people were going to react to the way they did. I think that's good, because that wasn't in our heads when we were making the songs, but that also made it rougher on us, because we're more sensitive and we hadn't experienced that yet. We were still writing [the album] off of 2008 and people loving the first album, almost like sailing on this naïveté from college, like, 'We're fucking around and this is great and we can just continue to fuck around and everything will continue to be fine.' And then the harsh reality that some people aren't going to go along with every single whim and whatever you want to do if you're a band that's on that scale. I think that was a tough realization for us."

Before the backlash had subsided, the band had been accused of everything from self-sabotage to self-indulgent pretentions run amok, and the perception set in that MGMT had become drunk on their own sense of creative freedom. Even the album cover—a decidedly trippy image of a surfing cartoon cat who is about to be submerged by a massive wave that is also in the shape of a cat's mouth—was attacked for being silly and over-the-top. But if Congratulations was a divisive release, even though it wasn't a huge departure from what they had done before, what will those same people make of this even more experimental version of MGMT? Could another wave of confusion be building off in the distance, ready to crash on them again?



Don't Expect To Be A Winner

In the history of popular music, there are two reasons to make a self-titled record. One: it's your first album and introduction to your audience. Two: it's a restatement of purpose, a message to the world that this is the purest distillation of your musical essence. Often artists will use this tactic to send a message to their listeners that, even if they've been lost in the creative wilderness for a while, they've thought better of it and they're back to doing what their fans loved about them in the first place. And though they've reined in most of their prankster impulses, MGMT admits that they've allowed themselves this one indulgence: MGMT is self-titled to mock the notion that they believe this album is either definitive or a concession to those who believe they would have been better off churning out album after album of synth-pop anthems. In a strange way, despite sounding little like the band they were six years ago, they're now—philosophically at least—at a place very similar to where they started as college freshmen. They're again making music with the sole goal of entertaining themselves, and they're still into subverting the conventions of popular music.

"I think we're both a little bit bored with rock in a lot of ways," Goldwasser says. "I think there's still a lot that can be said with rock music, but I think people take it for granted sometimes. It's this thing that's always cool, but if you think about it, a lot of it is really not that cool. I think there are still things you can say within that, because there are all these clichés that everyone recognizes and you can use them and make something new out of them. I think that's exciting. But when it just turns into, 'There's this band, and they're a rock band. They do these things, and they're cool because they do these things that everyone knows is cool'—that can be really boring. I'm really tired of that."

To that end, if MGMT is no longer a rock band in any conventional sense, they're in good company. And while MGMT is a decidedly strange, genre-dissolving album of abstracted pop songs, they're only further deconstructing what Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, The Knife, and a host of experimental electronic bands have done in the past decade. It might not be an album that will make much sense on first or fifteenth listen, but MGMT might sound utterly visionary in five years.

"This new record, to me, is very much a record of the times," Fridmann says. "It has been more clear lately that we're not thinking of music in the same classical, circle of 5ths, music school kind of songwriting. Music is becoming more and more of a different type of tonality that is allowable, and listeners accept multi-timbral, polyrhythmic music and just say, 'Okay, sure. Why not? I like it.' People don't even question it anymore. You can put things that would be unthinkable in music in the past, where you'd say, 'Oh, I'm going to put this chord over that chord and have this giant tone cluster.' So I don't think of it so much as an abstraction or that this is some sort of divergence from music. I think this is where music is going. I think the Western ear is slowly dying, and we are changing. I think they're just on top of that front of strange music—strange new music."

For all the struggles to describe the music contained on MGMT, "strange new music" might be most accurate. Even after a decade of music drifting away from traditional verse-chorus structures at an increasingly accelerated pace, an album as boldly uncompromising as MGMT is still startling. If those aforementioned experimental acts have maintained their audiences and even brought on new listeners, they've done so because their audiences were ready to follow them. Because of their success, MGMT has a different audience, one that they say is getting younger and more open-minded but whose less adventurous members are probably one weird album away from abandoning them. If true, they don't seem particularly worried about that response.

"I think that it's going to be mixed," VanWyngarden says, his tone suggesting that such an outcome isn't entirely unwelcome. "I hate it when people say 'mixed reviews,' because that always has this negative feeling to it. When people say, 'That album came out to mixed reviews,' you say, 'Oh...mixed reviews.' But really, I think that's great. If people are thinking about it and forming their own opinions on it, of course not everybody in the world is going to be accepting and like, 'Yes. This is a great album.' But I think a lot of people will like it. I hope that they find themselves surprised that it is pretty out there and different and experimental, but it's also not that hard to get into it. It's more open than the last record, and I don't think it feels as much like we're trying to prove something or get somewhere," he says, appearing to reach for a metaphor to tie everything together but giving up.

"I'm just totally happy being able to exist on this planet as an artist and a musician and be able to think abstractly and have my head in the clouds. To just do what we do with our new album and our last album and kind of just take risks as an artist and still be able to have a career and survive..." he says, trailing off once he hits the word "survive," as if it has triggered a thought he's going to keep to himself. "I think that's really lucky and cool."

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar's September/October issue.]
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Me:  We drove six hours
Andrew VanWyngarden:  Drumstick Towers?  *giggles*

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #478 on: November 14, 2013, 08:41:14 PM »

http://www.jambands.com/features/2013/11/14/mgmt-from-phish-to-fade-jade#.UoV4y6W9yIw

Published: 2013/11/14
by Mike Greenhaus
MGMT: From Phish to Fade Jade
lala's note:  How does this shit get past proofreading?
 
“I was a huge Phish fan—I was obsessed with Phish. And I remember reading at some point in high school Trey [Anastasio] talking about something he called the “kill mummy” phase—just how at one point he kind of forced himself to break from that and step out and try something else,” Andrew VanWyngarden said in late spring, while finishing work on MGMT’s third, self-titled album. “I think that’s kind of what happened with us on this album with rock and roll.” VanWyngarden has experienced a lot of changes since MGMT released Congratulations in 2010: he rediscovered electronic music, moved out to the Rockaway Beach section of Queens, NY and managed to massage a series of dark, synth-heavy jams into his band’s most psychedelic release yet. Plus, he turned 30 and is in the midst of a “Saturn’s Return” phase of his career. “The kind of mystical side of me thinks that there’s kind of like this development of what it means to be a human, kind of the whole people wanting kind of a medicine band, music to kind of push them and open up different perspectives or whatever,” he muses on a spring day during a series of interviews with Relix and Jambands.com for our July/August issue. “So I think that’s what psychedelic music does when it’s doing it best.” Let’s start with the new album. Can you give us a quick rundown on when you started working on MGMT and how you came up with your new recording approach?All the recording sessions were all up in Buffalo. We did some writing and improvising with these little synthesizer kind of jams that would become some of the parts of the songs at Ben’s house and my old house in Brooklyn, where we used to have a studio. But pretty much every track was recorded at Dave Fridmann’s studio. That’s the first time we’ve done it like that. Dave worked with us on both of our other albums but [the approach was different]. The first one was sort of loose and the second one was sort of mixed recording wise. With this one we recorded every track in the studio and it’s all super well engineered and high quality—as opposed to the other ones which would have tracks that Ben and I recorded with our limited but expanding knowledge of recording techniques. Dave Fridmann also had a bigger role kind of as a motivator and also kind of pushing us to go with certain sounds.In terms of a timeline, at what point did you start sketching up those original ideas at Ben’s house and then start making the pilgrimage up to the studio in the woods?January 2012 is when we started doing those jams in Brooklyn at Ben’s house or at my house. Early March 2012, was the first Taxbox session [at Fridmann’s studio in Buffalo]. And then over that last year we went up there I think a total of five times, maybe six. Some sessions were more productive than others, but it really wasn’t until the last two sessions when we kind of saw it come together as a whole and made sense to us. It was one of those situations where the last song we mixed was the last song of the album and once that was there with vocals and everything, it all kind of made sense as a whole. It was a nice way to end it.You recorded Congratulations with your live band and captured the psychedelic feel of your stage show but decided to revert to the original MGMT duo for your new studio album. Was your initial goal to create an album that was a true “studio project” or did that idea really marinate when you went into the studio with Dave? The only goals we had initially were really just to… We wanted to be a little less inhibited with our musical decisions and just kind of let things bloom and grow a little bit more because we had a bad habit of starting an idea and then just cutting it off. The moments that felt like things were really working together and Ben and I were grooving and feeling happy were coming out of these extended kind of improvisations. We would have drum machines and Ben’s module loop here and synthesizers and sometimes guitars and everything going and sometimes we would be doing it for like an hour and a half, two hours, and then that’s where the meat of the jam would be and we would take those sections and that’s when we were getting really excited and feeling happiest. We didn’t really have a set approach but we knew that it was going to be different.I’m sure that this new approach allowed you to shift your roles a little bit. Yeah, on some of the tracks it was definitely like that. It was much less like, like you said, like I’m the guitar player and Ben’s the keyboard player. For the first two albums, I played a lot of the drum and bass parts, but really Ben was more kind of master of the keyboard and synth area. But we both just love making sounds together even though it is usually a point of contention to the particulars of the sound because we love making weird and original sounding synthesized stuff. Dave was important in that we would kind of do a bit of a jam or get something going and then kind of like laugh and kind of go do something else and Dave would be like, “No guys, you should keep going with this. This sounds cool.” That was really helpful and good. But yeah, I played more synthesizers than I’ve ever played.I actually saw you play synthesizers at that Joshua White performance you guys did.That was kind of like we’d never done something like that before in front of people. But that’s what we do on our own so that was kind of cool. That’s how a lot of the songs came about on this album.Did that Joshua White performance come to fruition because you were kind of working with this template or was it just kind of a great coincidence these guys asked you to do something?I guess it was both. I mean, they asked us to do something and it was early in the year and we were like, “Well, we don’t want to play a full band show but we could do something kind of one-off for this.” And it would be kind of a challenge to what we were used to and we went for it.In terms of the improvisation, I know that psychedelic music has been something that you guys have been interested in for many years, but when it came to actual jams was it more like you guys actually jamming live or was it you were going to loop and Ben would kind of flesh it out or vice versa and then Dave would just roll tape and then focus in on those moments? There were a bunch of different approaches. It kind of goes song by song. For “Alien Days,” that was one of the first songs that we wrote during this writing period. That came more from me kind of strumming on the verse chords on my acoustic guitar, and then going into Ben and we kind of worked out the song, which is way more the way we used to do things. But then something like “A Good Sadness”—that whole song is just a chunk taken from a long jam. All the chord changes we were doing live and then we just kind of arranged a little bit, added a few things and sang over it. Then Dave kind of mixes it. And then something like “Your Life Is a Lie” was much more kind of a spur of the moment, just kind of really quickly done song that we thought was funny and made us laugh but was kind of crazy. So there’s a mix.At what point did you add the lyrics to these jam sessions? Like with the first two albums, it’s always coming last.That said, since this was recorded over so many different sessions, over a chunk of months, did you find there were some lyrical themes that run through all those songs or was it almost like “Alien Days” was written at this point and this other song was written at a different stage, where you were?I think there are some themes. Ben and I kind of started to see the first album as this sort of wide-eyed, kind of naïve, psychedelic fantasy, post-apocalyptic thing. And kind of just like this beautiful energy, and then the second one I feel like was kind of the result of all the touring and kind of us being naïve and not knowing what we were getting into with being a band and touring. The second one’s more of I guess melancholy and looking inside and kind of more closed off and a lot about just being a musician. And so I think we had to get that one out and kind of like therapy, and this one feels much more like kind of where the first breaths of feeling comfortable with the music we’re making and excited about being free to do whatever we want, which is kind of scary on one hand that we’re taking risks. The themes I think were kind of this feeling of being overwhelmed or feeling of a constant chaotic sensation which is daily life in New York or whatever, and trying to make sense of it or accept it or kind of accepting these kind of multiple realities. I don’t know it’s us searching for answers or something [Laughs]. I think we enjoyed finding sounds that were abrasive and putting multiple melodies that you wouldn’t think would go together, throwing them on top of each other and taking the result of that as the sound. That’s something that Dave got really into with us, which I think would be cool if you could talk to him about it because he was always amazed or kind of impressed that we would have these songs where there was… You couldn’t really tell at the end of the song what the chord at any given moment was or sometimes where the beat is but it still made sense and it was still sing-able.I think that’s the kind of angle that he really wanted to help grow and encourage.2013 has been the year psychedelic music returned to the mainstream. Do you think that that’s a result of the fact that people who have grown up with this music have had the opportunity to present this music to a larger audience and embrace it or do you feel like there’s some sort of trend that’s going through, with Tame Impala being on the other side of the world and embracing the same thing too?Yeah, it’s interesting to see it sprouting up simultaneously around the world. I think it’s a combination of a certain group of kids that probably have slightly similar musical backgrounds. I’m sure that all of our parents played classic rock and psychedelic stuff from the ‘70s and late ‘60s. Growing up, that was just a part of our musical knowledge and possibly even some of the last generations of kids that didn’t kind of have that, so I think that’s part of it. And then the kind of mystical side of me thinks that there’s kind of like this development of what it means to be a human, kind of the whole people wanting kind of a medicine band, music to kind of push them and open up different perspectives or whatever. So I think that’s what psychedelic music does when it’s doing it best.You see this in bands like Tame Impala and Flaming Lips, too. Their new album is pretty dark and out there, I mean, just kind of embracing the pretty utopian side of psychedelic music as much as the fucked up side of it.I think it’s interesting from the Relix perspective—being a magazine that was formed as a Grateful Dead fan magazine and obviously has grown along with the jamband scene—that psychedelic music has entered a dark sonic period recently. A band like Tame Impala wouldn’t have fit with the “happy-vibe” of the Clinton-era jambands. Yeah, well not to be too political or social by bringing that side of thing into it but with the Internet I feel like so much information is available, pretty much everything you want to know so that it’s harder for there to be this abstract concept of “the man” that you’re writing songs about so it kind of leaves you. If you’re a psychedelic band that wants to be political, it’s like what are you really going to go into that’s safe?I guess that’s kind of the distilled situationist approach. But Ben and I, and I think the Tame Impala guys too, were definitely were inspired in college a lot by way antagonistic groups like Suicide and Throbbing Gristle and bands that kind of had this sort of kind of like nasty prank side to it or something. I was definitely not like everything is roses, the other side of it.
In terms of the approach, it does sound it’s something that you guys have been building towards for a while. Is that why you decided to self-title this album? Well, just like with the last album, which we decided to call _Congratulations like when we first started touring for the first album. We thought would be funny to call the second one Congratulations, this one we decided to self-title it while we were touring for the last album. And then we kind of just felt like we had to stick with it. But I think it kind of makes sense. It’s like The Band how their self-titled record being their second one versus their first record and whatnot, kind of with that whole arc of a rock band. Yeah, it’s kind of playing with that cliché. I think it’s other bands that have done that too, where their self-titled one is not just like the third or second one. I guess Ben and I were also just like as musicians are prone to do, kind of looking at the careers of other bands and realizing that for a lot of bands that we listen to and love, they put out like four or five albums before they found their sound. But a lot of the times those first four or five albums are the ones that Ben and I are more drawn to [Laughs]. So I don’t know. I feel like Simple Minds and The Cure and R.E.M., it takes a while to crystallize their sound and that was kind of comforting for us in a way. Not that we’re trying to put ourselves on the same level as those bands but just kind of seeing what can happen and try not to be stressed out about it, like a make or break situation. It’s interesting. We talked about the evolution of our generation and where we are now ultimately some of the first people to see rock clichés in bands that were designed to break society’s clichés about how a lot of these groups coming out for independent, less mainstream releases and then they had their big break. R.E.M. had ten years under their belt before they had their first album. There are probably a lot of R.E.M. listeners who didn’t even know there was something before “Losing My Religion.” Have you found that knowing Ben now since you were 18 years old that you guys have evolved musically together in terms of your listening interests? There was a major shift in musical influences for this album. I think simultaneously Ben and I both got a little sick of rock and roll, which if I heard myself say that four years ago I would be like, “What are you talking about?” But it’s true. I think for the first two albums we were listening to a ton of Rolling Stones and Elton John and just a lot of classic rock and I think we just kind of got a little bit over that or something. I don’t really know why. But I think a big part of it for me was in 2011, I finally started really getting back into electronic music and something changed in my brain where I was able to hear like soul and just heart and kind of a real spirit in electronic music which before I never really broke through. And then at the same time when I would try to listen to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” or “Brown Sugar,” I could only hear something that was tired and really fun. Obviously they had it down, they did some amazing shit but… I was a huge Phish fan. I was obsessed with Phish. And I remember reading at some point in high school Trey talking about something he called the “kill mommy” phase, I think he was talking about Jerry Garcia, just how at one point he kind of forced himself to break from that and step out and try something else. I think that’s kind of what happened with us on this album with rock and roll. I mean and it was probably more extreme with Ben even because he was listening to a lot of this band Denim, which he got really into. Because they have a guy kind of got into this world in the ‘90s of writing songs that were like rock and roll songs making fun of rock and roll. When did you get back into electronic music? I also think it’s important to qualify what electronic music you are referring too because your new album definitely isn’t a dance album it’s more Aphex Twin then say even some of your earlier stuff which has a dance beat to it but was much less abrasive. Yeah. Well, I didn’t listen to electronic music until I was a freshman in college. It really was Ben who introduced me to a lot of music that we were really nuts about early on, like Mouse on Mars and Aphex Twin and this band called Bridge and these more cut and paste electronic groups that I think that was a major influence early on, our love of alien and insectoid sounding synth noises. But then in 2011 when I started getting back into electronic music, it was much more the house side of things. And maybe that was a result of having toured so much that I found listening to house music while traveling was really great because it kind of just got your whole system into this groove and kind of let you get through things. And we were on this tour in Australia that we really felt a little bit out of place on the Future Music tour. But Tame Impala were there too that was like our only friend. We made a lot of friends, it was mostly DJs and electronic guys, but I made friends with a couple people and the last night of that tour, this legendary DJ Spinback, who was on the tour, he DJed at the artists’ after-party and I danced until six in the morning and that was another kind of breakthrough moment where I kind of realized what it’s all about with electronic music and the skill involved with a really good DJ. So then from there… So that was first starting off I was really into this guy Omar-S, who was a Detroit guy, but he’s definitely influenced a lot by the other Detroit electronic acts from the ‘80s, Also, this band Woo was a big influence, they’re not really electronic per say but it’s more like this kind of atmosphere, and then the Orb was probably the biggest… I got really into the Orb. And not to talk about drugs or anything, another major breakthrough for me was like I had just made this playlist one time while I was on an airplane and it had like “Slug Dub” and it had a couple whatever that 20 minute long Stereolab and EAR song and it had all this stuff that I kind of just threw on there, and then I took really good clean acid in Hawaii and put the mix on and like I had never listened to really electronic music while tripping, and to hear something like “Slug Dub,” which just goes everywhere, you realize that’s what it’s meant for [Laughs] and like I know I’m probably like the five billionth person to have that revelation but it was special, you know? Lots of kids have smoked pot and listened to Dark Side of the Moon and had that experience. It doesn’t mean it’s less special. Yeah, I know, I know. It was cool. It’s like, I hadn’t had a moment like that since college so that was pretty cool. Do you feel that drugs do have a role in the creative process at this point, not just for you, but for artists in general? We didn’t really do too much. I mean, we were pretty clean, straight, for this whole session. It was really only one song that I could say was coming from a drug experience that we had up at the studio, that was “Your Life Is a Lie.” It’s funny how these two worlds have kind of come back together in a weird way. It is almost like you have circled back to a scene that was evolving parallel to the ‘90s Phish scene you were part of. Definitely. And there’s a huge, not even in the past five or six years, it’s been a huge growth in electronic music in that underground world. But Ben and I have our own take on it. It’s not like we haven’t felt like we’re coming late to the party or anything. It’s almost like when hip-hop got involved in music in like the ‘80s, it’s so current you can’t ignore it otherwise you’ll sound overtly retro. When’s the last time you saw Phish? At the side of the stage we played before them, a couple of days before them, at Outside Lands. My mom and sister were there, they were at the last show, so Trey came into our dressing room and we all hung out with my family and got our band, we watched from the side of the stage. We had a great time. I’m sure as somebody who grew up with Phish, you know, and I know that you’re part of the wave of indie or psych-rockers who have roots in Phish, it must have been great to have him… I know he teased you guys at one of the festivals, teased “Kids,” has name-dropped you and stuff. It’s pretty epic. Pretty cool. When do you feel you kind of fell out of listening to them? I guess it’s kind of when I got to college. It wasn’t that I turned against them or dislike them, I just, I think in a way my high school musical world was pretty small and closed off. Not that it’s a result of this, but high school in Memphis was much more oriented towards jambands, classic rock, the Grateful Dead and what my sister listened to. It was harder to kind of… When I got up to college, people were playing all sorts of shit I had never heard of so I just ran away with that. Do you have a favorite show you went to? My friend and I did a summer run 2000 on the East Coast and I really liked the Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta show and they did a great “Bathtub Gin.” The Holmdel show in Jersey that was really good. But I think the most special show for me was probably when they came to Memphis when I was I think a junior in high school, back in ’99. They played at the Pyramid and it was Trey’s birthday, one or two days after, but the crowd sang happy birthday. It was nice.
You mentioned surfing before. I know you moved out to Rockaway not too long ago, is that because you wanted to be closer to the beach or did it just feel like time to leave the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn and Manhattan? Yeah I guess. I mean, I love my old house but I was going out to Rockaway all the time and I was sharing a room, renting a room out there, and surfing a lot. I told myself that if a house ever popped up in this little neighborhood, this little couple block area where I was spending most of my time, that I would consider buying Actually it was the first time I went out, got my car, and it’s like January, kind of dead of winter, and, I was telling my friend, I’m going to go out and see if there’s any houses for sale. I got out into my car, drove 50 feet and turned a corner and there’s a “For Sale” sign. It was meant to be. I was like, “Yeah!” and I called and three months later, it wasn’t the smoothest sale with the owners, but yeah I bought it and started renovations and then it’s crazy because six months of renovations later is when Sandy happened. So it was a crazy end of the year. But I really like the feeling out there right now. I mean, it’s a little scary obviously but there’s like… I don’t know, it feels really bohemian and I got a few friends who have young kids, and my friend Sarah’s making soaps and my friend Zach has a coffee shop, and they have this temporary dome out there that MoMA built, selling coffee and we DJed in there and I don’t know, it just kind of has a nice vibe that needs to grow a lot obviously. I went there a couple of times last summer just to walk down the boardwalk. It feels like a really cool artist community, which Woodstock probably was before it became commercialized and whatnot. Did your apartment get badly damaged in the storm? It got some damage, yeah. My basement was full of water and trash and the concrete on the basement floor got all messed up. But you know, compared to a lot of spots around me it was not that bad. Do you ever see Patti Smith walking around there? Yeah, I met her out there, talked to her a little bit. That would be pretty cool… She seems pretty great. She told me when I met her that she in a way had given up on Manhattan as a place for innovative artistic people to really flourish. So she’s kind of trying to find this fringe neighborhood that has infinite possibilities and I think she feels like Rockaway is that zone. It’s cool. Do you feel like you’re a New Yorker for life now? Or having grown up in Memphis, going to school upstate and then… I don’t know, I guess… I mean, I always entertain the possibility of living somewhere else or trying to live overseas somewhere but it usually ends up coming back to New York being the place that I get down with most. At this point are you guys working on the live show? And if so, what’s that process been like picking these songs that were born out of jams and then applying them to your live band and also I don’t know if you can reinterpret them exactly or do you need additional people with you? We’re not going to have additional people. We’re trying to do things differently though, and we really want to make it easier on ourselves. Which I think… We’ve been playing since 2007 as a live band where we play everything live and try to recreate all these sounds. Ben’s playing a keyboard part with two hands and then having to switch to another one and then sing, and James is playing tambourine and keyboard at the same time… All this stuff that we kind of had a moment where we were like, “Who’s really impressed by this? And what are we losing with the kind of stage show and entertainment value by having to be completely focused on all these parts?” We’re going to try to have some sounds sequenced that we’re playing with. But in a way that still allows for extended parts and jamming and stuff like that but it’s already kind of taking a big bit of stress off of our backs I think. And it doesn’t feel wrong it just feels kind of nice and I think we’ll look happier and more into it on stage. Do you think you will incorporate moments of improvisation in the live show or stick with a more stylized performance? No, I think there are still going to be moments of improvisation. I mean, it’s a combination, we’re trying to go back and re-arrange all of our old songs too, mostly just by re-arranging by changing up the sounds and \ adding sounds that make it more in line with some of the new songs which I think is cool. It’s not like they’re unrecognizable by any means but they’re different, fresh and I think that people will like that. In that sense, do you feel like obligated to play “Kids” or “Time to Pretend” or “Congratulations” or any certain songs from your past or in a sense do you feel like Animal Collective, where they only play new songs? And they’ve done a good job at that but I’m sure at some point these people are going to want to hear something off of Merriweather Post. We’re still getting songs from every era. We’re trying to think of it from the perspective of the audience a little bit because you don’t want to deny some simple pleasure of hearing a song that they want to hear. I can understand really wanting to push it and be experimental but our whole goal as using some backing tracks, I guess you could say, even though that’s where it sounds bad, it’s just to free ourselves up so that we can engage more and can feel more like an experience live. You know, I think Tame Impala was an inspiration for us for our live show because their live show is incredible and it’s super tight and they have some things that are kind of sequenced filters or effects that kind of make things sound just like the album when it needs to or they can kind of go off and do something, but their show flows well. That’s what we really want to do is have things flow and kind of have an arc to it. I got really into Parliament live. I got a double LP in Memphis, I really liked that one and I really like a couple DJ mixes I’ve gotten, this guy Intergalactic Gary. I listen to WFMU all the time and have the app on my phone so I’ll hear a song and be like, “What’s that?” and take a picture and then go download it. We’re putting out a single cassette of “Alien Days” for Record Store Day and the B-Side of the cassette is this guy who I heard on WFMU called Hardy White. He has this show where he’s just got this incredible way of kind of with this really. We just got in touch with him through the radio station. Recently, I haven’t really seen much live music at all. I’ve been like DJing a little bit in Rockaway but just random parties and kind of low-key things for friends. But I’ve really gotten to enjoy DJing—building sets and having an arc to it that’s really fun. I’m glad you say that because I feel like since the iPod, a lot of times musicians DJing is just playing their iPod it’s cool to see you treating it like a setlist, organizing all this stuff. And do you do vinyl mostly? No, I’m still digital with the goal of kind of once I figure out the set that I really get into, then I’ll try to track everything down on vinyl. But I like using this virtual DJ program which is probably not the top thing but I’ve been using it for years because you can have like six virtual turntables at once, but I use four so I can have these going and set a loop and I can have three other songs or three other loops playing so you can kind of end up making your own music which is pretty cool. You cover a Fade Jade song on MGMT how did you pick that cover? It’s a ‘60’s kind of like flower pop band from Long Island called Fade Jade. The song we covered, I’m pretty sure it’s on one of the Nuggets compilations, is called “Introspection.” That was a band that my friend introduced me to five or six years ago and I’ve always been into that song and then there was a moment in the recording process when last summer or something when it felt like we didn’t know what to do next and we still didn’t know what we were doing and so I was just like, “Screw it, let’s try a cover.” So we started recording that and then we were just really happy with the way it sounded. Do you think that influenced the tone of the sessions after that? Yeah, I think lyrically it fits in that theme of the record because actually Dave was the one who was really pushing for this final track order. He thinks there’s this kind of story line that really works so “Introspection” comes kind of after this initial introduction to the darker, slightly more menacing, questioning side of things, then comes “Introspection,” and then the result of the introspection is like the realization is that your life is a lie or something. It’s kind of like really twisted. I feel like there’s two distinct halves, sides to the record because the second side is way more the kind of dream sequence, kind of nighttime, trippy side. You mentioned that this concept of life being a lie but what you said in the last hour or so it sounds like your life is the opposite. You’ve kind of reclaimed the artist community, you’re working the DJ set, you’re playing the music you want to play, it’s not a lie in that sense. Who knows where that song came from. While we were like tripping hard on acid by a fire but I just started singing that. I kind of think it must be directed at some other people. I think Ben and I kind of enjoy going on rants about people that we don’t really agree with their approach to life. But at the same time it’s interesting that sometimes people will be listening whether it’s at a bar or a party and not getting the life element. That’s why I think it’s funny too is that that’s kind of like the catchiest, shortest song on the album so that would be really incredible I think if that song were to get popular because then everyone’s singing, “Your life is a lie.” When you find yourself singing older lyrics listening back do you channel who you were then or did you sing it to put on a good live show for your friends or your audience? I still connect to the older lyrics, a lot of them. I mean, some of them not as much but I think it’s important to try to channel the feelings when you’re singing it and get into that zone.
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Me:  We drove six hours
Andrew VanWyngarden:  Drumstick Towers?  *giggles*

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Re: ♫ Your blood is all around you now ♫ (II)
« Reply #479 on: November 21, 2013, 08:41:40 PM »

This is a terrific piece in Memphis magazine that's quite comprehensive.  I'm not including the numerous links to videos and interviews simply because, well, I'm not getting paid to do this and I'm exhausted.  So instead of reading it here, follow the link that I've provided.


http://www.memphismagazine.com/Blogs/901/November-2013/The-Music-of-Andrew-VanWyngarden-Part-Two-Congratulations-and-Beyond/

The Music of Andrew VanWyngarden, Part Two: "Congratulations" and Beyond

In the December 2011 Memphis magazine cover story “The Future is Now,” I took an up-close-and-personal look at Andrew VanWyngarden, the world-famous musician who hails from Memphis. As lead singer of the indie rock band MGMT, VanWyngarden's career has led him to platinum records, Grammy nominations, and the world's biggest stages.

Who is Andrew VanWyngarden and how did he become one of the hottest musicians on the planet? Read the full story to find out. You can buy it here.

As a web-only supplement to the story, Memphis magazine examined "The Music of Andrew VanWyngarden", ostensibly in two parts.

Part one looked at VanWyngarden's musical outpout during his time at White Station High School, in the bands Glitter Penis and Accidental Mersh. It also examined the music of MGMT from the Time to Pretend EP and culminating with the band's smash major-label debut, Oracular Spectacular.

Part One was posted in December 2011 with the promise that Part Two, about "Congratulations and Beyond," would be released in imminent fashion. I admit it has strained the definitional bounds of the phrase “Coming Soon” to put it out almost two years later.

But, you know what? This isn’t all on me. I’ll take 55 percent of the blame, but, like, 45 percent is the fault of MGMT. I realized that Part Two couldn’t be properly assembled until MGMT’s third album dropped, because the band was still collecting material for the "beyond" indicated in the title of the post. In early 2012, that seemed like that album really was coming soon. But it didn’t come out until freakin’ September 2013. And I knew the band had a tour date in Memphis during the fall. So, I decided to time this post with their show.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

At long last, I’m pleased to present Part Two of “The Music of Andrew VanWyngarden,” which considers the MGMT album Congratulations and beyond. Well, at least up to when MGMT enters the orbit of their third, self-titled album.

Which is terrific, but the subject of some distant day blog post.

I PROMISE.

Congratulations (Columbia Records)

The headline of a Reuters dispatch upon the release of MGMT’s second album, Congratulations: “Justin Bieber, MGMT lead U.S. album chart.” With 66,000 units sold upon the album’s release, it was MGMT’s best week ever, commercially. Congratulations charted and sold well around the world. This album was a departure for MGMT, though. After touring and playing songs like “Kids” over and over for years and doing it karaoke style, MGMT wanted to make an album that was music that they felt good about that wasn’t overly serious but wasn’t joke-y either.

“With the second album, Congratulations, we had toured a lot and seen the major label system from the inside, and seen other bands and how it affected them, so it was much more a diary of the album. It was personal. A lot of relationships went in the lyrics, between musicians or romantic relationships. But I feel it’s more cynical in a way.”

Despite the opening week’s sales, on a micro level, Congratulations did not share the success ofOracular Spectacular. It didn’t have those three big hits — or any, for that matter. As MGMT began its tour to support the album, some critics ripped them, and the fans didn’t respond to the new material live at first.

That changed over the course of a year-plus of playing sold-out shows around the world. In May 2011, after recently completing a leg in Asia, VanWyngarden was excited about how fans were responding to Congratulations. “By then it had come full circle and we were playing some of the best shows we’ve ever played, and the crowds were singing along to all of the new songs. It’s turned into a really positive thing.”

 

“It’s Working”

A great song that lets telegraphs in the first millisecond a new direction for the band. Great surf-music vibe.

I love this video and definitely know what it's about.

 

Also: "It's Working" on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

“Song for Dan Treacy”

Named after the lead singer of Television Personalities.

 

“Flash Delirium”

The second best song on Congratulations, I totally love it. "Flash Delirium" has one of my favorite wry commentaries MGMT makes on itself: "The hot dog's getting cold, and you'll never be as good as the Rolling Stones."

And if you've never seen the video, you must you must YOU MUST! It contains all three of the following: singing vagina, phallic snake monster, and anus machine.

I love this video and definitely know what it's about.

 

"I Found a Whistle"

A wistful and deeply meloncholic song.

 

“Siberian Breaks”

The best of all MGMT songs, and if you don't agree I'll fight you. It's 9 or 10 different songs, beautfully structured together. I can listen to it on infinite repeat, if necessary. Don't tempt me.

Memphis magazine: "What’s your songwriting process. 'Siberian Breaks' is a long song; there are a lot of words in that song. Do you write the lyrics then build the song around them, or vice versa?"

Andrew VanWyngarden: "Usually, songs will be complete instrumentally and musically, and we’ll have an idea of the melody and the lyrics over a few months. Lyrics usually come last."

Memphis: "You’ve been on movie soundtracks, but what about doing a score? When I hear 'Siberian Breaks,' I can hear Ennio Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti in it."

VanWyngarden: "Definitely. I love Morricone. We’re waiting for the right movie, the right screenplay to come along. We’ve had some offers and we really want to do it but don’t want to make our debut on a movie that’s not really our style. But, yeah, we’re really into that idea and could do something fun. I’ve always wanted to make something more in the Tangerine Dream kind of old school synthesizer. I really like Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy score. I was worried it was going to be too Disneyed out, but it’s not. It’s pretty sweet."

 "Brian Eno"

MGMT performed "Brian Eno," named after the influential musician and producer, along with "Flash Delirium" on Saturday Night Live, hosted by Gabourey Sidibe.

“Lady Dada’s Nightmare”

MGMT sounds like what a 1960s band might have sounded like if the'80s happened first. Frequently pschedelic, the music is nevertheless rooted in electronic sounds and snth pop heaven. It invites and in some ways confounds the listener.

 

"Congratulations"

A lovely acoustic, mildly Asian-sounding closer, the thematic bookend piece to Oracular Spectacular's "Time to Pretend."

Plus, the video! Such a sad thing.

I love this video and definitely know what it's about.

 

...and Beyond

MGMT was busy in between the albums Congratulations and MGMT.

They showed up during Conan O'Brien's Pink Floyd week in 2011 and played an awesome version of "Lucifer Sam," replete with lobstermen ambience. Watch it here, while you can, I guess.

 

"LateNightTales"

They also curated an entry in the LateNightTales mixtape series. The

Here's the commercial for it.

"Guggenheim Museum"

In November 2011, MGMT pulled off one of its best tricks so far. They played at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, playing all new music inspired by and in the midst of an art installment by Maurizio Cattelan.

Here's Pitchfork on the event, including stunningly gorgeous photos. And more photos.

 "Future Games"

In Summer 2012, MGMT went back to mining oldies for its cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Future Games," for a tribute album. Hear it here.

 

"MGMT"

MGMT went back to the studio and knocked out their third album, MGMT. That's the subject of "The Music of Andrew VanWyngarden, Part Three: MGMT and Beyond-erer," Coming Soon!

 

To tide you over, here's a brand-stankin' new interview with VanWyngarden in the Memphis Flyer, written by my colleague Joe Boone. Read it read it!

 

MGMT is on tour now and plays Memphis' Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, November 23rd. Opening act is Kuroma, fronted by VanWyngarden's Accidental Mersh bandmate and sometime MGMT guitarist Hank Sullivant.

I will be at the show and will have a review up on the Flyer soon thereafter, which I'll link from here when it's live. Honestly.
Logged

Me:  We drove six hours
Andrew VanWyngarden:  Drumstick Towers?  *giggles*
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