Music Interviews
5:28 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Passion Pit's Not-So-Silver Lining

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 10:35 am

Passion Pit emerged from Boston's music scene just four years ago when musician Michael Angelakos recorded a collection of songs for his girlfriend as a Valentine's Day gift.

His brand of upbeat electronic pop soon found a much larger audience. These days, Passion Pit is known nationwide for its elaborate production and Angelakos' distinctive falsetto. The band will release its second album, Gossamer, July 24.

"The entire album is autobiographical," Angelakos says. "It's essentially a one-man show."

On the surface, Passion Pit's music sounds more sunny than sad. But listen closely to the songs on Gossamer and you'll hear Angelakos' dark lyrics, which detail his recent struggle with what he calls self-medicating.

"There are so many bands that talk about alcohol and it's not that interesting to me," he says. "The alcohol was just another character, but it was a minor character."

The major character is Angelakos himself — and the supporting cast is the people in his life affected by his behavior.

"When you become cognizant of the fact that you are hurting people and you are out of control and you feel like there's no solution, all you want is for them to leave because you don't want to hurt anyone," he says.

The theme of pushing people away runs throughout Passion Pit's new album. As he struggled with addiction, Angelakos says, his friends, family and his fiancée saved his life.

"I owe a great deal to them, specifically my fiancée, who in many ways just kept me alive," he says.

Angelakos says he's now completely sober. But he announced something last week that's hard for a young band publicizing a new album: He's cancelled all their shows next month to — as he puts it — improve his mental health.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now let's listen to a one-man band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'LL BE ALRIGHT")

INSKEEP: The band is Passion Pit. If you see them in performance, you will see five musicians. But on albums like their latest release, nearly everything you hear is the work of one man, Michael Angelakos. He does have some back-up, like on the drums. But Angelakos writes the songs, writes the lyrics, plays the keyboards and guitar. Works endlessly to tweak the synthesizers for a song opening like this one

MICHAEL ANGELAKOS: That beginning was about, you know, eight or nine hours of programming and just getting the idea for it. And then the whole song kind of just fell into place.

INSKEEP: He also sings and harmonizes with himself. And Angelakos' voice, as much as anything, distinguishes this music floating comfortably among the high notes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'LL BE ALRIGHT")

ANGELAKOS: (Singing) Can you remember ever having any fun? 'Cause when it's all said and done, I always believed we were. But now I'm not so sure. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh. I drink a gin and take a couple of my pills and my parade will give you chills. The one...

INSKEEP: It's fitting that Angelakos creates almost alone. His first album started as songs he recorded as a Valentine's Day gift to a girlfriend. The music soon attracted a much wider following. Now the second album, called "Gossamer," mixes happy-sounding music with dark lyrics, many of them dwelling on Angelakos' own tendency to self-medicate.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CONSTANT CONVERSATION")

ANGELAKOS: (Singing) I never want to hurt you, baby. I'm just a mess with a name and price. And now I'm drunker than before they told me drinking doesn't make me nice...

There are so many bands that talk about alcohol, and it's not that interesting to me. The alcohol was just another character, but it was a minor character.

INSKEEP: The major character is Angelakos himself and the people in his life who were affected by his behavior.

ANGELAKOS: When you become cognizant of the fact that you are hurting people and you are out of control and you feel like, you know, there's no solution, all you want is for them to leave because you just - you don't want to hurt anyone.

INSKEEP: And so he sings about pushing people away.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRY LIKE A GHOST")

ANGELAKOS: (Singing) Sylvia, right back where you came from you're a pendulum, heartbroken and numb. But Sylvia, no one's going to tell you when enough is enough. Enough is enough...

INSKEEP: Angelakos now says he's now completely sober, though after he spoke with us, he made an announcement that cannot be easy for a young band publicizing a new album. He has cancelled six performances this month to, as he put it, improve his mental health.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CARRIED AWAY")

INSKEEP: Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit. The band's new album, "Gossamer," is out today and you can hear it now at NPR.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CARRIED AWAY")

ANGELAKOS: (Singing) I get carried away, carried away from you when I'm open and afraid, 'cause I'm sorry. Sorry about that. Sorry about things that I've said, or is that against my will(ph)? I get carried away, carried away from you when I'm open and afraid, 'cause I'm sorry. Sorry about that. Sorry about things that I've said, or is that against my will? Wake up in the morning. I wake up in the evening...

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.