Interview: Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit on their local ties, remixes, and upcoming album

Passion Pit keep rising higher and higher and higher
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  September 15, 2010

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MBA? “You really have to understand the business behind your art,” Angelakos explains, “because otherwise your art is gonna be taken and mangled with and destroyed in ways you can’t even imagine.”

Passion Pit aren’t ours anymore. This week, Cambridge’s dance-pop-band-gone-international embark on a 10-date West Coast arena tour with Muse before hitting the fall-college-fest circuit in October. In some landlocked areas of the country, the “Sleepyhead” single — a track Boston first heard on the 2008 Chunk of Change EP before it was carried over to last year’s debut album, Manners (Columbia) — is just getting proper release treatment. Meanwhile, frontman Michael Angelakos has signed with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, developing a reputation as a top-shelf industry co-writer and producer. I sit down with Angelakos to talk about Passion Pit’s endless stream of remixes, the jump to a major label, and how to approach the band’s upcoming “defining album,” which should see the light in 2011. Here’s some excerpts from the conversation, as Passion Pit continue to grip the world.

It’s interesting how you just came out of nowhere two years ago, and nobody was really sure what kind of band you were, even if you were going to be a hit. Most bands are still getting caught up in being a band, and here you guys are going off, writing songs, remixing songs, all in this cottage industry, which was a really mature sort of thing . . .
We really — I mean, at least my manager and I, and [drummer] Nate Donmoyer — we all had a plan, and you really have to understand the business behind your art, because otherwise your art is gonna be taken and mangled with and destroyed in ways you can’t even imagine. And now, with the second album, that’s a whole other monster to deal with.

It’s the difficult album, too, the second one . . .
I’m not as scared of it as I thought I would be. I thought Manners was the second album, you know? Because I mean, Chunk of Change was the one where everyone was like, “Let’s see what they come out with next.” That was Manners, because Chunk of Change had “Sleepyhead.” So to me, I mean, this is like the third album, this is the defining album, this is the logo album. This the album that’s the “stay or leave” album, but I think we’ve made a big enough impression where we’re in good health, music-industry-wise.

Do covers, like your summer release of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight Tonight,” or remixes of passion pit songs take away from the original music or the identity of the band?
No, not at all, because I think it really only sparks interest. The people blogging about remixes or covers are already acclimated with the singles. The singles are old news to them. By the same token, the singles are hitting people who have no idea what or who the hell Passion Pit is. It’s just a song or a few songs they know. These are people in secondary territories that you do not have a chance in hell of hitting unless you have radio on your side.

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