By Alex Koenig
Live from New York, it's Passion Pit. Purple fluorescent lights burnish the stage as the band appears onscreen: Frontman Michael Angelakos sports a necktie, crisp plaid shirt and vest -- different shades of purple, and his outfit works with the color of the illuminations. He confidently gallivants as he belts the opening lyrics to crowd favorite "Take a Walk."
Keyboardist/guitarist Ian Hultqust and synthesizer player Xander Singh are laser-focused on their instruments, ostensibly unfazed by the thought of the scrutiny of millions. The rhythm section is on-point as well, as bassist Jeff Apruzzese and drummer Nate Donmoyer offer thumping grit to the shimmering melodies. A trio of well-dressed and matching female backup singers as well as an organist/vocalist adds color and harmony.
One week after Passion Pit's debut Saturday Night Live performance, Angelakos, Donmoyer and I chatted backstage at the House of Blues, located at the quintessential Orlando tourist locale that is Downtown Disney. Kiosks offering everything from pretzels to Donald Duck figurines surround the venue. I asked the members of the electropop band about their reactions to their highest-profile network TV appearance yet.
"It was amazing. I was extremely nervous and couldn't sleep for a few days before," said Donmoyer, whose musical influences include the spark plug Dismemberment Plan and the post-punk revival act VHS or Beta. "But once we got there and got rehearsing the Thursday before, and we were in the studio and started to meet some of the cast and crew and then did the dress rehearsal, a lot of the nervousness went away."
Angelakos' feedback regarding the NBC show was a bit different. He seemed remarkably down-to-earth, as if the SNL appearance was simply the next logical step in the group's evolution. However, this isn't to say that the Cambridge quintet's leader didn't express his share of gratitude.
"It was less of an achievement and more of an honor," said Angelakos. "And I think the fact that we played it well enough to the point where we were kind of happy with it, cause television never really sounds that great. It kind of blew our minds in a way. So yeah, it was a big milestone for us."
Angelakos' statement is as promising as it is relieving, especially given the ups and downs he's dealt with this year. In mid-July, online indie rock publication Pitchfork debuted their first "Cover Story," chronicling Angelakos' struggles with bipolar disorder, and the severity of the condition caused Passion Pit to cancel their opening tour dates for their new album, Gossamer. But Angelakos has since received additional treatment, and as the months have passed, he professes to hold a healthier mind state.
"It's been about putting in place a very strict regimen that I can get into that's only helped," he said. Angelakos chose not to reveal the specifics of his regimen, but he's pleased to report that it's working. "With the right help and the right people behind you, you can definitely conquer any mental illness. You can deal with it, and you can live a normal life."
Check out lyrics and explanations to Passion Pit's Gossamer on Stereo IQ:
Passion Pit - Carried Away Lyrics
Passion Pit - Constant Conversations Lyrics
Passion Pit - Cry Like a Ghost Lyrics
Passion Pit - Hideaway Lyrics
Passion Pit - I'll Be Alright Lyrics
Passion Pit - It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy Lyrics
Passion Pit - Love is Greed Lyrics
Passion Pit - Mirrored Sea Lyrics
Passion Pit - On My Way Lyrics
Passion Pit - Take a Walk Lyrics
Passion Pit - Two Veils to Hide My Face Lyrics
Passion Pit - Where We Belong Lyrics