MGMT Talk MGMT
The album definitely has a "headphone" feel, something you can go back to and have different sonic experience with.
AW: I wanted people to be able to zoom into different parts. If you just try to focus on one sound you realize that the whole song changes slightly--it re-contextualizes the rest of the song.
BG: That’s something that Dave was saying early on that I really agree with. The more you listen to the album there’s so many different entry points to the song or the album if you pick on thing it kind of leads down this whole other path. At some point I think I was quoted as saying, “This isn’t an album you’re going to get the first time you listen to it”; I didn’t mean that in terms of pure enjoy-ability. There might not be a three-minute pop songs, but I think the album is something that’s approachable, though there’s no way you’re going to hear everything that’s happening after one listen. I mean, even though we made the album I hear something in a song and I think to myself, “Oh, I forgot we put that there.”
I think you could drop a needle on your record at any point and it would be a good entry point, though "Alien Days" is the bridge to the past. I think the other song in it’s own twisted way was a nice axis point was “Plenty of Girls in the Sea” and kind of the weird repetitive playfulness of that and that’s towards the end of the album.
BG: That’s a funny song because I feel like in some ways it’s the least approachable song on the album because I feel like…
AW: It’s kind of perverse. On the one hand it’s kind of a John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, "Instant Karma" song, but then you realize also taking the fist out of that kind of song as well.
The song that came to my mind was “Fixing a Hole,” the Beatles song, which is full of catchy melodies but those hooks help bring you into a pretty twisted song.
BG: It’s funny, when we first played that song for people at the label they were like oh this is catchy but why does it have all this crazy noise shit going on, this like sound collage in the middle of the song? Then it’s like now that we have a few songs on the album that are basically entirely sound collages, hearing that song after those ones makes a lot more sense. Kind of a relief in a way, but it’s also more fucked up.
You mention the sequencing is important. Entryway, sound collages, twisted pop, then ends with the dark explosion. It works well.
AW: Dave Fridmann kind of came up with the track order together with us, but he was really pushing for the one you have because he thought the arch was really nice. It’s the first time he’s ever really weighed in. At the last minute he was like, “this track order is wrong.” And since he never does that kind of thing, we really listened to him. Like all right, you must be right if you’re going to say this at the last minute. It’s cool he cared that much. I think he feels like he was as much a part of making that album in a creative way and we were really happy to let him in to the creative process.
It seems like you have to relearn it to play live, is it a faithful rendition?
BG: We’re still going back and forth on that. I think it’s going to end up being a mixture. Some of the songs are going to sound pretty much like they do on the album and some of them we’re taking more of the hookier parts and making it sound more live. Since so many—some of the songs we haven’t tried to play live yet, like “Astro Nancy" or "I Love You to Death," I don’t see, I mean either we’re going to have to heavily involve samples from the album or it’s going to have to become a totally different thing. I mean there’s no way some of that stuff can be played live.
It’s nice to have something to stand apart from the live show.
BG: Already with some to the songs we’re trying to bring out, and trying to recreate some of the sounds that were made on the album, and I’m realizing I have no idea how we originally made that sound, or I can guess, but there’s some stuff on there that’s pretty tough to recreate.
In terms of the live show, you have been steadily building a following since you started touring heavily in 2007. Is the goal to still build to playing arenas?
BG: I don’t know, we thought it would be pretty cool to play Barclay’s Center. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m sure we’ll play somewhere in New York, but that seemed good for us because it’s in Brooklyn. It’s actually a nice place to go see shows.
It sounds very good in there and its pleasant for such a big venue. It’s too stressful for me to go see shows up at the Garden; I try to avoid that point of town.
AB: Did you see the Roger Waters show last fall?
Yeah I did, it was cool. It was much of a theatrical performance than a rock show, though.
AW: That was like a major production, right? Did you hear that Storm Thorgerson died yesterday? We met with him a couple years ago in San Francisco, talked about album art, it was really sweet. He talked to us about Syd Barrett.