The boys are back in town...and for a very special occasion.
The Boston synth-pop band is no stranger to South Florida. The talented quintet has commanded attention on the stages of Ultra Music Festival, the Jackie Gleason Fillmore Miami Beach, SunFest and, most recently, the ArtsPark Amphitheatre in Hollywood.
The band’s romantic inception is well-known in the music scene. While attending Emerson College in Massachusetts, lead singer Michael Angelakos created a Valentine’s Day mixtape for a then-girlfriend. His distinctly falsetto voice went viral, and soon Passion Pit’s first single “Sleepyhead” was lacing techy commercials.
Fast forward. In the past 12 months, Passion Pit released its sophomore album (which has been incredibly well received), performed on Saturday Night Live, headlined Madison Square Garden, and now appears to be Taco Bell’s favorite band.
We recently spoke to Passion Pit bassist Jeff Apruzzese. The humble and candid musician recalled his past South Florida shows, the band’s recent performance at Madison Square Garden, and shared how they are already preparing for a third album.
You have been touring recently, but Boca Raton doesn't seem to fall naturally into your schedule. Do you do these intimate, somewhat off-the-radar shows often?
A lot of times the college shows don’t necessarily align geographically with our schedules, so we will fly in and around to do them. They are really fun because I feel like we are playing somewhere in between a festival setting and more of our own shows. The universities may not necessarily be in a metropolitan city or a hub, so I think sometimes people come to the shows because there is nothing else to do. I feel like in that mix we are generally playing to a lot of people who aren’t our fans, and [we then have] the opportunity to play to new people.
New people must be harder and harder to find with your recent buzzed about performances.
I think we like being the underdog and having to prove ourselves.
I have seen you multiple times in concert, including Ultra Music Festival in 2009, your performance that same year at the Fillmore, and SunFest. Do you have any standout memories of performing in South Florida?
I remember SunFest was actually really good. Last time we played Ultra was a terrible disaster. We were coming from the U.K. and whoever was in charge of making sure that our gear got to the U.S., put it on a boat instead of an airplane. So it was like five weeks behind schedule. I think when we flew out of London we had to be in Florida three or four days later, so we had all this rented gear for all of our analogs and synthesizers...Some of it was even older than our stuff. The mp3 sampling machine that we used, that [normally] takes little SD cards, had a floppy disk drive on it. I remember it being such a scramble to make that work.
I also remember when we played the Fillmore, that was a blast. That was a really good tour, because we were with the Tokyo Police Club. I remember being in such close proximity to the beach. After soundcheck we all just left [and were] hanging out, swimming in the ocean, for like five hours. Of course I got a terrible sunburn and I had to deal with that while we were playing...It was worth it.
Over the next few weeks you'll be playing Lollapalooza Brazil, Sweetlife Festival and Coachella. What do you enjoy most about these giantic festivals?
It’s kind of like band camp. I think that’s the way that any band that has done extensive festival touring can relate to it. Most of the bands that I’m friends with, come from playing festivals, especially during the traveling festival scenarios. You are in these foreign territories, so you’re all backstage everyday. It’s natural for you to migrate and start hanging out.
It’s always fun to meet new friends and see bands that you kind of look up to, and being like, ‘Oh, they’re not so crazy. They’re just like us.’ And also catching up with old friends that you haven’t seen in awhile because when you’re both on tour all the time. It’s really hard to catch up with people when you’re never home.
Lets back up a bit. You are student at Berklee College of Music in Boston. You are friends with your bandmates, and are practicing and playing shows. You are signed to a label in 2008. What are your expectations at this point?
At first, I wouldn’t say much. I had just graduated college, I had spent all summer looking for a job, because I had so many student loans that I was drowning. I just remember my parents telling me, ‘When you graduate, you need to find a good job because [in] six months you have to start making payments.’
I finally got a job at the Apple store and I spent like two weeks training there. [Passion Pit] had only played seven shows or so before we signed to Frenchkiss. So we were playing this show in Martha’s Vineyard, with RJD2, and it was totally awesome. I was suppose to start my first day of work the next day, but everyone decided that we weren’t going to go back to Boston. We were going to stay another day hanging out at the beach. So I had to write the e-mail that said, ‘Well, I’m not coming to work on my first day so I guess I’m going to quit.’ I took that opportunity to try to see what would happen.
I feel like a lot of bands say this, but I know that we can say it truthfully and humbly, that we weren’t really expecting any of this. We weren’t really trying for any of this to happen. I think we are just trying to see how far we can actually get before someone tells us this is a joke, and that the dream scenario that we’ve been living in is over. Everyday is a blessing.
We feel so lucky to be able to do everything that we are doing. It’s been so fast paced for the last four or five years, from when this whole project started, sometimes we need to take a step back and see how much we’ve actually accomplished. Sometimes we don’t realize what we are actually doing.
You are doing so much though. In such a short time, you’ve gone from playing little Boston venues to SNL, SXSW, and Madison Square Garden. When did you have that feeling that you “made it?”
[It was] when we were playing Madison Square Garden.
Everyone in the band can attest to this. When we first started playing, we’d be in our crappy little practice space in Brighton, and [I’d say], ‘If this band ever plays Madison Square Garden, that’s it. I’m done. I’m quitting because there is no where else to go from there.’
Completely honest, I don’t think that we even perhaps realize the impact that this band is having. I mean that in a very sincere way. Aside from playing SNL and Madison Square Garden I don’t think that we fully understand what this band is doing right now. I think we kind of have our blinders on. We are just trying to keep going. I think we are always looking forward to the next thing and seeing what could happen.
You released your sophomore album "Gossamer" last year, and it is well loved by your fans. You mentioned keeping the momentum going. Are you already working on the third album?
It’s definitely something that we’ve been talking about. When we were touring on “Manners,” we were so new and so fresh to it all, that we were getting the crapped kicked out of us by touring.
We weren’t really thinking about anything else besides getting through the album campaign. We were so exhausted and we were playing so many shows. We were gone six, seven, eight weeks at a time, so that was stacking up against us.
Now we’ve been able to go out for three or four weeks at a time and then go home to regroup. The [third album] is something we keep talking about every time we are back out together.
The Passion Pit concert is open to the public; tickets are $25 for anyone with a current student ID (limit of two tickets per student and they are available only in person at the Lynn University Box Office); $50 for General Admission tickets (seating for Student and General Admission tickets is festival-style on the lawn); and $75 for Preferred Seating which includes padded chairs, access to a tented area, private restrooms and cash-only bar). To order tickets (other than student tickets), call the box office at 561- 237-9000 or go online at www.lynn.edu/tickets. The concert will be held rain or shine; all ticket sales are final.
[Photos by Cassie Morien]