MGMT Live from Abbey Road

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All season long, the Sundance Channel has been showcasing musicians, both emerging independent artists and established legends, on their acclaimed series Live from Abbey Road. Tonight’s episode features a little bit of both. Alanis Morrisette joins British rocksters Elbow and 2008’s breakout band MGMT. I spoke to the one half of the latter irreverent duo, Andrew VanWyngarden, about the experience.

I wanted to ask you about the “Live From Abbey Road” experience. Was it memorable in any way? I know you’re a Lou Reed fan. Did you grow up worshiping the Beatles?

It was definitely music that my parents played a lot when I was little. I’ve been a Beatles fan, I guess, my whole life. I don’t listen to them much now, but I kind of go through these phases. It was really amazing to be able to go to Abbey Road and check out where the Beatles did a lot of recording. Pink Floyd and a lot of other great bands played there too. It was a pretty cool experience.

So you’re more Pink Floyd than the Beatles?

I listened to the Beatles probably a lot more, but I think recently I’m starting to listen to more Pink Floyd — early Pink Floyd, like The Piper At The Gates of Dawn and Atom Heart Mother, and also solo Syd Barrett stuff. My favorite Beatles albums are Magical Mystery Tour and also The White Album.

Did you and Ben feel the ghosts of the John Lennon or George Harrison while performing at Abbey Road?

It was filmed for TV, so during the performance itself, there were a lot of people around us, and cameras. At first it was a little bit harder for me, at least, to focus on the spirit of the studio. We were there as a five piece band. We got to play an upright piano that was used on a lot of Beatles recordings. That was pretty cool — me playing the keys that those guys played on.