Interview: MGMT play the Orpheum

MGMT

MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser never wanted to be famous. But quirky poppy zingers like “Kids,” “Electric Feel” and “Time To Pretend” from their 2007 debut, “Oracular Spectacular” made them household names, especially after being featured in movies such as “21,” TV shows like “The Voice” and a Nokia ad. It was like their psychedelic private art house jamming session had been crashed by an accidental open Facebook invitation.

Rather than embrace the masses, the Brooklyn-based duo stoically continued with an ever more zany second album “Congratulations,” in 2010. Indeed, the early days of face paints, hippie headwear and neon accents were discarded in a now forgotten fancy-dress box – and “Kids” was no longer on the set list.

This apparent fan neglect reads as career suicide; MGMT’s paradoxical style can seem frustratingly hipster but they, as self-indulgent as this sounds, are out to please themselves. The 30-year-old rockers are in an enviably privileged position with the backing of a major label [Columbia], free to satiate their musical whims – something they’ve taken into their self-titled third album “MGMT.”

Here, Goldwasser chats about the new album, pop culture and his disdain for social media.

 

You said that your music has been misunderstood and labeled incorrectly in the past. Is this album about reestablishing your identity?

I feel like we’re presenting ourselves in the way we’d like to be seen. I think it’s a little strange to us that people want to impose a narrative on us as a band. We’re not thinking too much about what our image is or what we’d like to be known for.

 

Your music is often described as paradoxical. Is it important for you to create something that’s intangible or ineffable?

I think in a lot of ways music is always about the intangible. I think our album is music that a lot people could get into, potentially. We’re not trying to scare or be intentionally experimental but also I don’t think you want to be known only as a band who writes quirky pop songs.

 

You get a lot of criticism for alienating your fans but you’ve got nearly 4 million Facebook likes. Do you find it frustrating that critics and people keep harking back to the days of “Time to Pretend” and “Kids”?

It’s frustrating. We’ve never intentionally alienated anybody. We’re people who appreciate lots of different music: catchy dance music, noisy industrial stuff and quiet pretty music that you’d listen to in your living room. Maybe a lot of the critics who said we’re trying to alienate our fans only have this one-dimensional appreciation of music.

 

You only started tweeting in January of this year. Why have you been resistant to embrace your fans via social media?

I guess we just started doing it because we were bored in the studio and we were looking for something to do. But I don’t personally do any social media stuff.

 

NoFacebook?

No, I’m not on Facebook, no. I just do Instagram – posting funny things I see on the street. We don’t really like putting our egos out there as a band – I don’t really have the energy for that kind of stuff.

 

Is it because you’re concerned about your privacy?

I mean, partially. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about having some sort of privacy. I don’t really appreciate that level of ego-driven social media behavior – I just think it’s really obnoxious. It’s a similar thing to how people behave really differently when they’re behind the wheel of the car and they’re anonymous. They do all those things that they would never do face-to-face with someone else. I think social media is really similar to that in a lot of ways – there’s a lot of disgusting behavior.

 

What do you dislike about pop culture?

I don’t want to say that I dislike it. It has its place but I think there’s room for a little more subtlety in pop culture. It’s really strange for us as a band because we’ve been accepted by mainstream culture kind of by accident. But we also draw so much of our inspiration from underground stuff that never reached the mainstream. So we have a complicated relationship, I guess.

 

In “Plenty of Girls in the Sea” you say “The trick is to try to stay free.” Why splice politics into your lyrics?

I think there is a lack of freedom here. I think if more people started acting on what they really believed in and started saying what’s on their minds or that kind of thing, there would be a lot of opposition. A lot of people are afraid and too comfortable or don’t want to risk giving up that level of comfort for potentially something better. I feel like things could go in a nasty direction if people realized that the comfort that they thought they had is in fact transient.

Interview: MGMT play the Orpheum
Event Category: Hot Tickets
When: December 5, 2013
Where: The Orpheum
Cost: $24


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

Bomb squad detonates backpacks left at Marathon finish…

The Boston Marathon finish line has been evacuated and the Copley Square T station has been closed as police investigate a suspicious package, WBZ is reporting.

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

MLB

MLB video highlights: White Sox beat Red Sox…

Red Sox fall on walk-off error to White Sox

NBA

NBA Draft Lottery day is May 20: Celtics…

NBA Draft Lottery day is Tuesday, May 20: Celtics percentage odds for a top overall pick

MLB

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be…

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be dumped just yet

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready…

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready to erupt once again in playoffs

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.