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Passion Pit Sheds Light on Its Darker Side

Published: Friday, September 7, 2012

Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 11:09

Passion Pit

Courtesy of the band

Passion Pit

Passion Pit is known for having blatantly dark and bizarre lyrics coated in sugary electro-pop, but few really knew what was actually going through singer Michael Angelakos’ head. Angelakos was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 18 and has struggled with it ever since.

In July, Pitchfork ran a profile on Angelakos in which he opened up about his mental health and how autobiographical his work can be. Within weeks of each other, the story was published, tour dates were canceled, and Passion Pit’s sophomore album, Gossamer, was released.

After taking some time off, the band is ready to take on the world without trepidation. College Times caught up with Passion Pit bassist Jeff Apruzzese to talk about the record and his friend Mike.

College Times: You guys just got back from some international dates.

Jeff Apruzzese: Yeah, we did our around the world in 10 days tour. [laughs] That’s not the title but we did Japan, Singapore, England and France and back in 10 days. [It was] kind of a whirlwind but the shows were really awesome and a lot of fun.

How has it been playing the new album live to so many different audiences?

It’s been really good. It’s kind of funny because we’ve probably played more shows internationally than we have over stateside. They’ve been awesome and we’ve started playing some of these new songs before the record was released, and there’s points in the set where we hoped people would sing along. When we were in Singapore, we never thought we’d be in Singapore, and people seemed to know the newer songs better than they knew the older songs. It was an awesome feeling to be in a country that’s so far away from home and have people singing back all the songs.

Tell me about how Gossamer was made. At what point did Michael share the songs with the band?         

Mike wrote this whole record on his own and it was a long process, I think. It started in LA. They were out there for a few months and things weren’t really working out. He went back to New York and continued to work on the record. He’s written so many songs for this record that we all heard in passing, a lot of it. There’s like a hundred demos he’s written for this record that in the time he was writing.

It was kind of weird because in a way we didn’t really have any idea what the new record was going to sound like. Of those songs that he did play us while we were doing those one-offs, none of those songs wound up on the record, [laughs], which is cool. He had a lot of stuff coming out and as we were hearing it we loved every song, but then once all the songs were there we thought about it and it made so much sense as a whole. To me, I think the record is a lot more congruent than Manners. It tells a big story.

Michael has talked about his struggles with bipolar disorder with Pitchfork and other outlets. Journalists have analyzed him, but what is it like being his friend and band mate?

It’s kind of crazy. We’ve been friends for so long. Especially me, Mike, Nate and Ian. We all grew up in college together so we’ve known each other for like five or six years and we were always really good friends. This is kind of something we were all maybe dealing with behind the scenes, I guess I would say, for a long time. I think it’s really great that it kind of all came out in public. There were times before that we did cancel shows because of stuff like Mike needing to improve himself. There are only so many times you can say someone is sick or someone has a cold before people are like, “What’s up? Why are you canceling all the time?”

So I’m glad that came out, but no one should think that things are like crazy with us or terrible. We get along and have fun touring. It’s just sometime things get a little hard. I don’t think anyone in the world should be touring. It’s like detrimental on your body, traveling around so much, and then it can bring everyone down the more tired you get.

Now that everything is out in the open and all your fans know so much about the band, has it changed the live shows at all?

I don’t think it’s changed. I know Mike was kind of hesitant. After the Pitchfork thing happened and Mike went back to the hospital, Ian and I were up there visiting and we were talking. I think the first show back he was a little worried. The way things happened to work out [with] the canceled shows, the first show back after the release of the record and Mike being away was Lollapalooza. It wasn’t like a small show comeback but I think if anything it was nothing but positive vibes about everything.

Anyone who has followed the band for a certain amount of time and people who actually listened to the record more than on the surface level could have probably picked up on the darker times happening with the band. I think when you get personal with people it comes back. People have been very supportive with everything that’s been happening. It’s made us as a band stronger. The only thing we can do when all of this is happening, and the best thing we can do to support the situation, is to nail it all the time and get everything as tight as we can so when Mike comes out and we get to rehearsal everything is set and he can sing and we’ll be ready to go back on tour.

Passion Pit, The Marquee Theatre, September 11, 8 p.m., $25 to $28

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