Q&A With Passion Pit, Playing the Fillmore This Sunday

With a thoroughly buzzed-about debut in Manners and a national tour well underway with a string of sold-out dates, it's safe to say Passion Pit's graduated from its humble college beginnings. The Beantown band's reality today is a far cry from its beginnings as a one-man dorm room project by frontman Michael Angelakos.

The brain behind gems like "Sleepyhead" and "I've Got Your Number" has some solid backing to round out the act these days, with Berklee-trained badasses for bandmates -- Ian Hultquist, Ayad Al Adhamy, Jeff Apruezzese and Nathan Donmoyer. Crossfade recently got a chance to talk to drummer/programmer Donmoyer about the band's seemingly overnight success, and more. Hit the jump to read the full Q&A.

Passion Pit. 8:30 p.m. Sunday, June 13. The Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Remaining tickets cost $24.

New Times: You guys have been together a short time. Yet in that short span of time, Passion Pit's become huge. How surreal is it looking back at where you were just a couple of years ago, a college kid in Boston, and comparing that to now?

Nathan Donmoyer:
It's kinda ridiculous. It's hard to judge really, internally. It's pretty surreal. You realize it when you're playing these festivals and stuff, and you can see it in person. We just played Sasquatch and that was the first festival we ever played, a year ago. And then we played it on Monday, and it was kinda different, from playing the small stage and so many people there, to the main stage and however many thousands of people were there. 

What do you think it is about the music on Manners that has resonated so much with fans?

I think Mike's a great songwriter, and that's the core of it, really. We're not a country band or a hip hop band, and I think this is a sound people are a little more open towards these days, synthesizers and disco beat, electro. And people want to dance again, I guess.

Do you agree with the assessment of Passion Pit's music as "pop?"

Yeah, definitely. Because of the song's form, is really why we'd describe it that way. The way it's arranged is pop. There isn't a lot of instrumental parts, and that's a defining characteristic of pop.

With the exception of some guitar work by Ian, and your own contributions, handling drumming and programming, Michael pretty much wrote and played all the music on the record. So you have a pretty unique role in the making of that album.

Yeah, it was just Mike and I in the studio the whole time with the producer Chris Zane and the engineer Alex Aldi. Jus the four of us. And we cranked it out in 10 weeks. We were just there all day and all night [laughs]. It was definitely a learning experience for all of us, to step up from bedroom production to studio production, and trying to be as professional as possible.

Passion Pit hits the road a lot. How do you feel that what you did in the studio translates to the stage?

Well, it's almost like two different bands some times. It's always really strange to hear people say it sounds like the record, 'cuz I don't think it does at all. But it's been another fun challenge to make it work on stage and rearrange everything for different instruments and different keyboards from what we use in the studio. Not using certain programs, elements of the record and recreating it live. It's been really fun figuring it out, and figuring out what makes the crowd jump up and down with you.

You guys had a rough go of it when you were last in Miami for Ultra. Jeff and Ayad told me at an afterparty that your gear was lost at sea. Are you guys looking forward your upcoming headlining gig with all the bells and whistles?

[Laughs] Yeah! And I think it'll be more our crowd, too. Ultra seems to be more a DJ-friendly festival. I don't know if a lot of our fans cross over. Hopefully they do, though. It should be nice to play a headlining show for Miami. It'll be our first time, so we're looking forward to it.

What's a Passion Pit show like? How would you describe it?

Um, basically we try to be as energetic and euphoric as possible. Hopefully, when it all goes well, people jump up and down and dance, and get sweaty. And hopefully leave with a smile on their faces.

Finally, I know you guys are still riding high on Manners, particularly with the rerelease, which features some killer additions (like a Cranberries cover). But have you guys begun planning new material yet?

Yeah. We've done a little bit of pre-production stuff, but that probably won't get into full swing until August. And we probably won't get in the studio until winter, or maybe even spring. 

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Christopher Lopez