ACL Interviews: Passion Pit

passionpit_interviewContinuing or ACL coverage today, we are excited to bring you an interview with buzz worthy band Passion Pit.  These guys have been getting a whole bunch of praise heaped on them from numerous sources and we tend to think they deserve that praise.  We recently spoke with Jeff Apruzzese from the band who discusses the hype and buzz surrounding his band.  Of course that’s not all we talk about, but you’ll just have to read more to see it all.

ATH: This seems like it has been THE year for you guys.  You received a bit of positive praise for the Chunk of Change EP and now EVERYONE loves you.  To what do you attribute that success?


Jeff: I feel like the internet has definitely helped a lot in the success of this band and has really propulsed it.  When it started out “Sleepyhead” got onto the blogs and the blogs pushed that as a single by itself.  That really caused us to have a large exposure to a lot of people.  From the band side of things, Mike(Angelakos) is a very talented songwriter and it’s something that stands out.  Mike’s voice and his unique style of singing, which can be a love or hate type of relationship, has really helped us to find a niche and a unique sound stylistically for a vocalist.


ATH: Prior to releasing Manners this year, did you feel a lot of pressure after all of the hype surrounding you EP?


Jeff: I mean I was in the studio with them but Mike has always been the main songwriter so he has a main hand in crafting all of these songs.  I guess we did have a little bit of pressure since this was really the first formal Passion Pit release and not just a bedroom EP.  Like when it came time to record it, Mike had been saying that he had all these songs together and was ready to go but nothing was really there when we went into the studio.  Everything was really written in the studio in a very unconventional way and I think that sort of added to the pressure of completing an album in a constricted amount of time.  Of course you always have some pressure to deliver, but it was more just the pressure of writing material on the fly.


ATH: Going back in time, would you have changed anything about the evolution of the group, or has it all panned out the way you expected to when you originally put it all together?


Jeff: I think it happens to be that the things you think will prevail are the ones that fail and the ones that you aren’t expecting to go anywhere grow larger than life and way too fast.  I wouldn’t change anything really.  Everything has happened so fast and it’s been a very quick rise which has caused us to rise to the occasion. We’ve been sort of forced into this lime light and it’s really required us to deliver on what we’re doing.  I think it’s a great way to sort of push bands.  I couldn’t tell you what would have happened if we had been anticipating this.  It probably would be completely different.


ATH: If you were going to describe the sound of your band to someone who had no prior knowledge of you, let alone indie rock, how would you do it?


Jeff: It’s electronic pop music.  It has a very evident use of electronics and samplings involved but it is just pop music.


ATH: With a heavy electronic type sound, what are some challenges that are unique to you guys when creating a live show?


Jeff: You should know that right when Mike had finished tracking vocals, we literally went on tour the very next day for about 2 months.  We didn’t know any of the new material, well we knew it, but we didn’t know how to play it because of the way the album was conceived.  So we went on this tour for 2 months playing songs only off of Chunk of Change EP and then we had to spend another 5 weeks in rehearsal picking apart everything that had been recorded.  Some of the songs have upwards of 100 tracks so we had to sort through and pick out what the most important parts were to play and what we could do without.  To be really easy, this band could just be Mike and Nate(Donmoyer) with live vocals, drums and the laptops.  From day one though we’ve really harped upon the fact that a band that does this type of untraditional music could easily rely heavily on backing tracks, but we only use those if it’s something that’s going to add color but nothing that would be the main focus of the song.  We really bust our ass in trying to replicate everything ourselves without relying on a computer to do everything for us.


ATH: Do you do things differently for a festival in the open air?


Jeff: For the festival set we definitely try to take away some of the slower songs just because in a festival set you have a limited amount of time.  You’re always playing to new people so we try to make festival sets.  They are extremely hi energy and we just go out there and give it everything we’ve got and the whole set is a gradual incline to the end.  I think we’ve been closing with “The Reeling” most of the summer so that’s a very appropriate ending and climax to our set.  For a small club show we can have an hour and a half and we can craft the set to have different emotions and it’s not just balls to the wall.  We can start with a gradual build and go into a softer songs like “Eyes of Candles”.


ATH: Do you feel like you have a bigger following in the states or in the UK/Europe?


Jeff: I’ve been asked that question before and I can’t really say if we have a larger following, but we’ve been very lucky in the fact that some of our shows are very well attended.  I do feel like we’ve been in Europe a lot more than we are over here to say the least.  I do think that our craziest shows have been in Ireland.  Those have been the most insane shows we’ve ever played.  Every time we play there it is just amazing.


ATH: When can we expect new material and what are future plans for Passion Pit?


Jeff: The past year has just been a complete whirlwind for us so it’s kind of hard to think about what’s going on since we’re just trying to get through all the touring.  Different ideas have been thrown around with what’s going to happen and what the next record is going to sound like.  It’s hard to really put a firm finger on it until the touring is sort of slowing down.   I think once our minds are at ease and we have more than 10 days off, we’ll start thinking about how to approach the next record.


ATH: What’s a band or artist that you like/love that we need to know about?


Jeff: We have very eclectic tastes as far as a band goes and we’re all into very very different thing.  I know a band that we’re all very excited about is called The Joy Formidable but I’m not really sure if anyone has heard about them over here.  They are a Welsh band and we’re actually taking them on the next European tour that we’re doing.  Boston also has a lot of great bands right now.  Dirty Dishes, Pretty & Nice, and Stephen Conrad to name a few.  Those are all friends of ours in Boston that are doing great right now.


ATH: Yeah we know Pretty & Nice.  They did our SXSW showcase…


Jeff: Oh really?  They’re great man.  I’ve been really getting into that band Neon Indian. They have that big blog hit right now “Deadbeat Summer”.


ATH: Hey that’s one of our own!  That’s the dude [Alan Palomo] from VEGA and Ghosthustler.  He lives in Austin now.


Jeff: Yeah they were playing the Monolith festival last weekend at Red Rocks in Denver and I think this is their 3rd or 4th show and it was packed!  So Crazy.


ATH: Yeah I think he is playing with VEGA during ACL weekend at an after party.  You should make it out.


Jeff: Oh yeah I think I heard about that actually.  I want to hit it up.


That show we talked about just so happens to be on Saturday night the 3rd at Mohawk.  Oh and it’s free! Thanks again for making the time to talk to us Jeff and maybe we’ll see you at the Mohawk.

You can catch these guys live Sunday at 5pm on the Xbox 360 at this years ACL Festival.


  • Would you look at the hair on the tall drink of water in the middle…I am turning into my dad.

  • He kinda looks like Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds.”

  • Ha! booger! The whole picture is a throwback from “revenge of the nerds”. It really has been fun watching this group skyrocket into popularity and I agree completely that the interwebs and blogs in particular have attributed to their fast rising popularity. I bring these guys up in conversation regularly when I am talking to others about today’s new popular indie music. Most of the responses I get from others is, as Jeff said, “a love or hate type of relationship”. I am interested to hear what they will do for their sophomore full length studio album. As well, I am also interested to see how their stage presence will differ from that of their earlier show at Emo’s last June.

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