MGMT Talk MGMT
Syd Barrett was the original genius that went too soon. I thought the show was a really cool production, but in a sense it was the exact same production for so long. More about the Wall production. I actually saw Roger Waters last week at Crossroads just watching the show, just there to observe. When did "I Love You Too Death" come into the mix?
AG: Yeah, the first session we did were “Alien Days,” “Plenty of Girls in the Sea” and “I Love you Too Death,” that’s what it is, I love you ‘too’ death. On so many streams it’s like ‘“love you to.”
I think you mentioned in the last interview how you thought Congratulations was a little more melancholy, and though the album has more excitement and not as sad music, but the lyrics can be perceived as melancholy. Do you feel that?
AW: I don’t think it’s ironic, which I think it’s cool. I think there’s hardly any irony on it, which is great.
BG: I think some of the songs for me are less melancholy and more melodramatic, like intentionally taking it to this place almost mocking the idea of serious, emotionally weighted rock music.
AW: I feel like that for the last album, where if it’s melodramatic the new one is melodramatic in the sense that it’s like the unreality of life as a movie and seeing that. So there’s the drama of watching life unfold in this strange way. Maybe like the drama of a high school person or that kind of think. I don’t know, I feel like the rock opera melodrama was the last one.
BG: For me, I’m not thinking rock opera melodrama, but for me there’s a level of—I feel like the music, the weight comes more form getting lost in the sounds of it and less from the narrative of ‘this is a song about this thing,’ you know that’s important, we were like joking about how we wanted to make the songs lyrically have a lot of emotional weight and have the music be really playful and actually welcoming and inviting.
AW: I was thinking about how funny the term "rarities" was yesterday. Because whenever you see it it’s on something that’s released so it’s not rare anymore.
Yeah, I feel like there’s so much music out there…how does it all fit together?
BG: Some of that stuff might come out but I’m also just excited to make new stuff. I guess that’s the way it kind of goes for a lot of people, but it was kind of our struggle to get into this creative process and like make something new and then by the end of it we were ready to record a whole other albums worth of music, but now we have to go on tour so we don’t actually get to do that.
After going through this more intense creative process do you think the next would be more traditional?
AW: I’m sure it’ll be different, who’s to say how? I can imagine it being more poppy for lack of a better word, more just kind of like fun music.
BG: I think that it’s hard for me to even talk about it in a lot of ways. I think I kind of stopped trying to guess how people are going to perceive [the new record].Because at first when we were making it we were worried like we were making this crazy music and people are just going to think we’re going further out and that’s not what we want people to think. To us it’s this really positive experience and we were so into the music when we were making it and I hope that carries across to most people when they listen to it, that it was not meant to be totally obscure and challenging and something like that. It’s meant to be like a celebration and get people excited about new music and new sounds and the possibilities that are still out there with music. I hope it does that.
Would the next one be more traditional even if it ends up being layered on top of each other, like you guys in a studio with a band?
BG: I think one thing I would like to get into more is getting really good at scoring acoustics and recording sounds in a room. I love making electronic sounds but there’s something about hearing a good recording of an acoustic sound happening in a space that’s so cool and I think it would be really fun to mess around with a similar sound collage style but with acoustic noises or field recording or something like that. It would be a lot of fun. I don’t know, there’s so much stuff to do.
AW: We did a show at the Guggenheim Museum in 2010 which was really cool. You’d think they would say it’d be violating some sanctimonious art space. But they put lights up on the spiral, I was surprised by that.
BG: It as so, so cool, I really—It’s obviously hard when the whole touring enterprise is controlled by the companies and you have to do things in a certain way and all the ticketing. It’s tough to do something different, but I think it’s so cool when a band is able to perform in an unconventional space. I think it changes the performance because the band is feeding off of the room rather than just the band bringing their show to this basement box and…I think ‘still working on that’ with like food is a really funny term. I’ve been thinking about that more lately. But yeah, I think it translates to a better show for the audience when they know it’s a unique performance because they know it could only happen in that space.
BG: I think that when a lot of people think about production now it’s mostly centered on some sort of technology gimmick. Like this thing comes out of auto-tune gets used or abused creatively and then it becomes a cliché and it’s all over everything. Or that stupid techno rise sound that’s now just such a cliché thing in like so many pop songs now and then that’ll be over at some point. For us, we used a lot of new technology but not in obvious ways or showcasing it, and we used it along with old technology and for us it wasn’t like we were trying to make a modern production that used the most cutting edge stuff. We were just trying to make something that sounded new. And I think we succeeded in that and I hope that’s what people are focused on, more than trying to pick it apart and say this is pop music or this isn’t pop music, or something like that. It’s a new sound and it’s fun to listen to.
AW: I think it’s good it sounds like MGMT still. It’s not like it’s out of nowhere, you can see where it came from.
BG: It’ll be busy but it’ll also feel deliberate, certain things we know have to happen. It’ll be a relief.