PS22 Covers MGMT, Brightens Everyone’s Day

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered PS22, they are an elite children’s choir at Public School 22 in Graniteville, State Island, who make YouTube videos of themselves singing pop songs. And they are awesome, adorable, and incredibly talented. The notion of children performing pop songs is hardly new – I remember faking my way through a recorder-only rendition of M.C. Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” in third grade. In 2001, we got the release of The Langley Schools Music Project, a collection of reverb-heavy recordings from the 70’s of Canadian school children doing rock classics, including a knee-weakening rendition of “Desperado” as sung solo by an eight year-old girl. PS22 has more in common with the Langley Schools than my 3rd grade class: both play on the discordant and powerful juxtaposition between thematically adult songs and childishly innocent yet deceptively complex interpretations. Like this new performance (after the jump) of MGMT’s hit “Kids,” a song about nostalgia for lost youth as sung by kids who haven’t yet lost said youth. Plus, the drummer kicks ass.

MGMT: The Boys Are Back in Town

With a bellowing creak, a pair of imposing wooden doors opens into Alder Manor, an 80-room mansion in Yonkers, New York. Inside the grand foyer, two waxen-haired men, dressed in pressed military uniforms, talk in hushed tones. One is wearing a black eye patch. In the first room at the top of the marble staircase, a younger man speaks into his headset: “Stand by for the poodle and the prosthetic hand.” The dog, manicured like suburban shrubbery, strolls into a deep, empty, white-tiled indoor pool and sniffs an amputated hand covered in chili meat. Without much prodding, it begins to lick. “They must have thrown some wild orgies here,” says MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden, carrying with him from a nearby room the sweet smell of a fresh joint. Behind him appears bandmate Ben Goldwasser, who smiles loosely in response. Cast and crew make their ways downstairs to film the next scene of the music video for “Flash Delirium,” the first single off MGMT’s second album, Congratulations. The poodle is left to polish off the chili.

Four days later, before devouring a plate of French toast at Jack the Horse Tavern in Brooklyn Heights, VanWyngarden, 27, reaches into his mouth and removes the invisible braces that hug his upper and lower sets of teeth, placing them into the pocket of his black trench coat. His hair looks like it lost a grueling death match with his bed sheets, and purple edges line his feral, sleepy eyes. Our waiter walks over unprompted with a cup of coffee for VanWyngarden, who arrived at the restaurant a few minutes late. He would prefer, however, a cold glass of orange juice. “Why do you think that guy assumed I needed coffee?” he asks. Goldwasser, a 27-year-old native of Westport, New York, with a fertile head of black corkscrew curls, explains, “You kind of look like you partied really hard last night.” Laughing, VanWyngarden says, “I just smoked a lot of weed.”

But VanWyngarden has another reason to be exhausted: within weeks, MGMT will release Congratulations, and expectations couldn’t get much higher. The group’s first album, 2008’s compulsively trippy, platinum-selling Oracular Spectacular, earned the Brooklyn-based duo two Grammy nominations, critical fanfare on countless year-end lists and, thanks to the undeniable charm of tracks like “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel” and “Kids,” enough mainstream success to land songs on four of The CW’s series, including Gossip Girl, the apotheosis of a certain type of New York cool.

Oracular also put MGMT in an increasingly rare position for a rock band these days. Whereas they once teetered happily on the brink of mainstream oblivion, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden are now on the verge of becoming bona fide, big deal, sold-out–arena rock stars. Sure, they already hold the title of indie kings, but if Congratulations is as successful as Oracular, MGMT could go from being one of the few acts that Pitchfork and teenage girls can agree on, to one that, well, everyone agrees on.

They are coping with the pressure by denying its existence. The only people they care to please are themselves, which means that fans eager for Oracular Spectacular 2.0 should prepare for disappointment. Congratulations has a rougher, more deliberate sense of despair than its predecessor, both lyrically and sonically. (Take, for example, “Siberian Breaks,” a spacey, at times cacophonic, 12-minute song that dips into Alejandro Jodorowsky soundtrack territory. Its refrain, almost a mantra, insists, “I hope I die before I get sold.”) “If we tried to re-create our last album and someone didn’t like it, I think it would have been really difficult to look them in the eye and tell them we really believed in the album,” Goldwasser says. “But now, if someone tells us that it sucks, we don’t give a shit.” Striking another note, VanWyngarden adds, “But if this doesn’t work, if this isn’t what people want to hear, then I’m not sure what we’ll do next.”

Congratulations’ co-producer Peter Kember—a British musician better known by his stage alias, Sonic Boom—understands the score. “Nobody really knows how the album is going to be received. But one thing I do know is that if they can’t do things their way, they will give it all up tomorrow and walk away.” After working on their new songs in an isolated, chilly house in High Falls, New York, where they lived last year for just under two months, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden relocated to a much bigger house in Malibu, where they spent almost every waking moment in the studio with Kember and a backing band. Although the pair’s lax personae suggest the opposite, Kember insists that Congratulations has been labor-intensive for MGMT. “They appear to be laissez-faire about things,” he says. “But they care deeply. I can promise you that. They will tell you until they’re blue in the face that they don’t care about how the album is received, but I know for a fact they do.”

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Downstairs, in the dining room, the table has been set for 10 guests, who will be feasting on painted blue sausages, a nod to the “hot dogs getting cold” in “Flash Delirium.” Also on the menu during this shoot: a tiered cake bearing the image of Goldwasser’s youthful face; a pair of prosthetic breasts, size 36DD; the headless bust of a man with Tom Selleck’s chest hair; a giant turquoise eel; the 1997 edition of Consumer Reports’ Complete Drug Reference. An hour later, when the scene has wrapped, the music video’s prop stylist brandishes a veiny rubber square with a hole at its center. “Wait,” he yells. “Did you guys see the flatulating asshole?”

There are two well-documented lines in “Time to Pretend” that spoof the various excesses of rock stardom: “Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives/ I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin and fuck with the stars.” Ironically, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden found themselves for a time living, rather than lampooning, the clichés of nouveau-notoriety. VanWyngarden was even romantically linked to actress Kirsten Dunst. (His current girlfriend is an Irish commercial model based in New Zealand. Goldwasser lives with his girlfriend, a student in dentistry, in Manhattan’s financial district.) “I don’t think we ever got completely immersed in it,” says Goldwasser of their new-found celebrity, which included VIP appearances at European clubs, a revolving door of would-be groupies and late-night binges that went well into the next morning. “We felt ourselves getting sucked in at points, but it freaked us out early on and so we found ways to avoid it. We didn’t want to turn into the kind of assholes we hate.”

It was a learning curve that peaked at this year’s Grammy Awards, where Goldwasser and VanWyngarden walked the red carpet in support of their two nominations, which included Best New Artist. They are quick to downplay the event. “It’s been two years since the album came out,” says Goldwasser. “The Grammys were kind of late to their own party.” VanWyngarden agrees. “A lot of the interviews we did that night were with people who had no idea who we were,” he says. “There’s one clip of us doing an interview, I think with CNN, and our portion of the screen is tiny and in the corner, while the rest of the screen is focused on Lady Gaga’s arrival. Obviously, no one cared what we were saying.”

One can’t help but think they’ve survived the hype, perspective intact, because of each other. One is always there to laugh at the other’s asinine jokes (“When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me,” said Goldwasser a er the waiter retreated from our table with a full cup of coffee); nod along when the other says the wrong thing (“By the time we finished the first album I hated it,” says VanWyngarden. “But the new one is really good—it took me two months to get sick of it”); and have the other’s back when it comes to upsetting record label executives (“The people responsible for making money hoped that we’d record another ‘Time to Pretend,’” VanWyngarden says, “but everyone close to us knew we weren’t going to do that”).

They wear their obscurity and weirdness like badges of honor, beaming with pride, for example, when describing disenchanted fans. “We’ve invited strangers onto our bus, where we end up listening to weird music, getting stoned and playing with puppets,” VanWyngarden says. “A few times they would be like, ‘You guys are dorks,’ and leave.” Their bond is that of two old friends who started a band, rather than bandmates who’ve become friends. They met when they were 18, as freshmen at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Stories abound of their college bacchanals—most of them involving nudity and hallucinogens—but Goldwasser says it was the perfect place to make music: nonjudgmental, uncritical and hungry for culture. “People just wanted to see shows,” he says. “They didn’t care how good we were. They were very tolerant of weirdness and didn’t expect to see a polished band play.” In VanWyngarden’s retelling, the people were less important than the countryside. “More than any class I took on Islamic history,” he says, “my education at Wesleyan was about running around ponds in my underwear catching frogs and exploring the countryside while taking mushrooms.”

As Management, a name they later shortened to MGMT because of copyright issues, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden played schizophrenic experimental shows at college parties, on any given night alternating between electronica, acoustic performances and nine-piece electric rock. After graduating in 2005, they released their six-song Time to Pretend EP on Cantora Records and began touring with Of Montreal, an equally outlandish musical troupe. Through deafening word of mouth, their wonderfully amateurish collection of tracks made its way to Maureen Kenny at Columbia Records, who signed them shortly thereafter.

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A camouflage banner hangs between two walls, the words “Welcome home, Ben!” printed on it in chunky white letters. At least a dozen people are screaming, jumping and waving their arms in the air. An old woman in a blue cocktail dress and matching heels lifts a glass of champagne to the sky as bursts of silvery confetti explode behind the crowd. A metallic snowfall lands on the shoulders of military veterans, society dames and a young woman dressed in a miniskirt and knee-high socks. In the video at least, MGMT has arrived.

MGMT have spent five hours every day for the past few months rehearsing their new material in the basement of VanWyngarden’s home in Brooklyn Heights. The space is cluttered with equipment, sheets of music and unpacked boxes of all sizes. The living area, on the second floor of a two-story townhouse that VanWyngarden found on Craigslist, is surprisingly tidy, decorated with a mix of antique and modern furniture. Airy and spacious, its walls are lined with paintings and still-life photography. A copy of Karlheinz Weinberger, a rare and very expensive book of portrature, sits on the coffee table. VanWyngarden points to a mess of electronics in the corner of the room. “That’s where I spent three hours last night DJ’ing after I got stoned,” he says, laughing.

For two guys who would rather not be characterized as drugged-out hippies, they sure do spend a lot of time talking about getting wasted. “If someone asks if we take mushrooms, we’re like, Hell yeah, we take mushrooms,” Goldwasser says. “But just because we talk about it doesn’t mean we’re on drugs all the time.” VanWyngarden adds curtly, “We’re just being honest.” Inside VanWyngarden’s bathroom, on the counter next to the toilet, a well-leafed copy of the New Yorker is open to a story about Vampire Weekend, another New York-based rock band that rose to prominence at the same time as MGMT. (Weekend’s recently released second album Contra debuted at number one on the Billboard charts: at least their core audience has expanded beyond hip twenty-somethings.)

In a video interview with music magazine NME, MGMT was asked to name one person on whom they would wish bad karma. Although he was obviously kidding, VanWyngarden answered, “Vampire Weekend.” It was, more than anything, a jab at music critics eager to lump the two bands together as part of a burgeoning scene. “We met them for the first time after we’d done that interview, which they for sure saw,” he says. “They were really nice, but they probably thought we were such assholes.” Goldwasser chimes in. “Everyone kept comparing us, but if the fabled Brooklyn music scene does exist, we’re de nitely not part of it,” he says. “Most of those bands are never going to be discovered by anyone because they’re too insular and weird. Although there are very cool things happening in those makeshift clubs in Bushwick, they have nothing to do with us.”

It’s early afternoon on the first warm day in March, and only a few minutes remain until MGMT’s backing band is scheduled to arrive for rehearsal. There is much work to be done before the pair leaves in a few days to begin promoting their new album overseas. While saying our goodbyes, VanWyngarden gets up from the daybed where he’d been reclining. He walks me halfway to the exit and, shaking my hand, leans in and whispers, “Just make us look cool.” Billy Crudup says that very thing in Almost Famous, in which a young rock journalist tours America with a band about whom he’s writing for Rolling Stone. VanWyngarden’s smile tells me he knows this. I tell him I’ll try.

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Photography by David Roemer. Styling by Christopher Campbell.

Links: Two Minutes of ‘Twilight’ is Like Foreplay; Terry Richardson Defends Himself, Kind Of

● A 1:45 clip from the upcoming The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is now available online and more people have already watched it than Remember Me and The Runaways combined. [Vulture] ● Little did Ke$ha know that her American Idol performance, in which she dressed in a headdress in war paint, would spark an essay entitled “Feminist Intersection: Ke$ha and the ongoing cultural appropriation and sexualization of Native women.” [Bitch] ● Instead of listening to the leaked new MGMT album, just listen to Sigur Rós’ Jónsi covering “Time to Pretend.” [ONTD]

● Terry Richardson wants his fans and potential future models to know that he’s “really hurt by the recent and false allegations of insensitivity and misconduct.” How dare anyone think he would settle for a handjob. Also, here’s a really phallic eclair. [Terry’s Diary/Terry’s Eclair] ● Canada’s leading gossip columnist discovered the secret Olsen triplet… in her new novel. No word on if Mary-Kate and Ashley snort her at the end. [Page Six] ● In another example of the internet dictating a musician’s career decisions, pianist and pop singer Ben Folds performed a tribute to his Chatroulette look-alike improv artist. [Buzzfeed]

Videos: Hitchcock’s cameos, MGMT’s Infomercial, Wes Anderson’s ‘Spider-Man’

● An ice skater throws on some plaid and triple toe loops the hell out of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” [Boing Boing]

● All of Alfred Hitchcock’s cameos in his own films. [Moviefone]

● MGMT puts together an intentionally cheeseball infomercial to promote their new album Congratulations (comes with scratch off cover!) [Flavorwire]

● What if Wes Anderson had directed Spider-Man? [Guardian ]

Links: Pink Borrows Lindsay Lohan’s Pasties, Tiger Woods’ Golf Hiatus

• Because between this, this, this, and this, there haven’t been nearly enough Pride & Prejudice remakes to date, Natalie Portman has signed onto star in the crucial book-to-film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. [BBC] • Apparently Avatar has an Oscar curse against fantasy genre flicks to defy…that is if you conveniently downplay the landslide victory of that last Lord of the Rings movie. [L.A. Times] • On tour, Pink’s been sporting a heart-shaped pasty on her breast, as initially dreamed up by Lindsay Lohan for her Ungaro collection. [Holy Moly]

• Let the hipster backlash begin! People has posted a primer on Grammy nominees MGMT, thus completing the band’s transition from indie darlings to mainstream curiosities. [People] • Effective immediately, Tiger Woods is going on an indefinite hiatus from the wondrous world of golf. [Tiger Woods’ Official Website] • Meanwhile Rachel Uchitel has managed to scare an apology out of The View‘s Joy Behar for her rather tart allegations. [TMZ]

Miley Cyrus, The xx, Passion Pit, MGMT: Getting Their B.I.G. Mashups

The Notorious B.I.G. isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Tupac may put out posthumous album after posthumous album, but B.I.G.’s rhymes apparently live forever, and ever, and ever. Nowhere is there better evidence of this than in the mashups produced with his tracks mashed into them in it year after year. The latest batch aren’t too new, but they are nothing short of stellar, and we’ve rounded them up: teen popster Miley Cyrus gets her party on, epic post-punk/R & B revivalists The xx go “Runnin” with B.I.G. and ‘Pac, MGMT gets their electric felt, and Passion Pit goes toe to toe with Biggie Smalls and Beyoncé Knowles.

The best of the new class has got to be the Miley Cyrus vs. The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Party in the B.I.G.” Not being a Miley Cyrus fan at all, it’s hard to admit that smiles were cracked at this piece of brilliance — Miley’s “Party in the U.S.A.” blended with Biggie’s “Party and Bullshit” — thrown together by pro skier Andrew Hathaway, clearly going crazy in the off-season. But this insta-classic’s a fun, ridiculous banger, perfect to be tossed on during your next party right as it hits its peak. The official mix was pulled from Hathaway’s downloading spot, but we think you might be able to find it on YouTube (below) or downloadable here.

The next must-download comes by way of a DJ set who go by Quix vs. Elliot; they threw together the hottest of Pitchfork’s 2009’s Best New Music class, indie post-punk dream pop youngsters The xx, alongside Biggie and Tupac. The original track comes from the soundtrack to the documentary Tupac: Resurrection, and it’s a track with soundclips and rhymes from the long gone formal rap rivals, diced up and spread out on The xx’s “Intro” track, which really is the first track on their album (and what some people would call their favorite, despite being only a barely-two minute instrumental; they’re that good). You can download it here, and listen to it below.

The other two you might want to check out: ddpesh’s remix of the Justice reworking of MGMT’s “Electric Feel” with B.I.G’s “Nasty Girl.” It’s nothing completely surprising — at this point, nothing mixed with Justice or MGMT is surprising — but it’s still, like the Miley track, a decent party jam, and some decent work went into it to make sure it flows well.

The final entry is, admittedly, a bit much: B.I.G, Passion Pit, and Beyoncé. The relatively well known Xaphoon Jones, who produces for up-and-coming indie Philly rap group Chiddy Bang, has thrown Passion Pit together before (with Major Lazer, no less) to great effect. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Passion Pit makes for incredible remixing material, regardless. But with the extra topping of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” sample, it proves wrong the adage that there can never be too much of a good thing. In this case, there can be, and there was.

That doesn’t make it any less awesome for what it is, though: someone trying to take something old and teach it a new trick. And if Girl Talk can throw 100 samples in a song and make us listen, isn’t the greater challenge to do it with one, two, maybe three at the most, and sustain our attention for a full track? Here’s to hoping there’s more where this came from. Besides, anything that can draw out Biggie’s legacy isn’t the worst thing that can happen to music, you know?

Backstage at Bonnaroo: Yeasayer & Girl Talk

We spent a pleasant Saturday at the ‘Roo under blue skies and only a moderate amount of mud and standing water. Right in the middle of some dedicated people-watching, when we thought life couldn’t possibly get any better, we snagged a few treasured minutes with Chris Keating, lead singer of Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer, and Gregg Gillis, the sometimes controversial mash-up DJ known as Girl Talk. Gregg attracted a monstrous crowd for his 2:30 a.m. set on Friday night, and Yeasayer, directly followed by MGMT, filled the house and killed it at their late-night Saturday show. Luckily for those in attendance, they threw in a few very catchy tracks from their soon-to-be-released album. MGMT followed suit, and although every single one of the festival’s pseudo hippies/wannabe hipsters was there to pay tribute, no one was feeling their new tunes.

What types of venues are better for your music? Chris Keating: Festivals can be really great because obviously the energy can be amazing from so many people, but I don’t like it when people are 40 feet back. We played Lollapalooza, and there were so many people, they went on forever, but you couldn’t really see anyone. They were so far away. We also did this whole summer of festivals in Europe, and the one show I really remember was when we played at a bar with 100 kids in Zurich. It was right in between all of these festivals. We just stopped at this bar, played a show. It was so good even with the crappy sound system, being sweaty, we couldn’t even all fit on the stage.

You’ve called your music “Middle Eastern psych snap gospel.” Help us with this one. CK: You just have to write definitions sometimes, and people run with it. That’s it. I’m never going to say it again. I was listening to a lot of Middle Eastern music at the time; I like gospel music; I like Jermaine Dupri southern snap. It’s hard to define our music. It’s better than “Contemporary Brooklyn.” If anyone calls us “Freak Folk,” I’ll be really pissed off.

Are you playing with any new gadgets? CK: We have two new drummers. We have a percussionist names Ahmed who was born in Sudan and has played with Of Montreal before. Now he’s part of our band for the next touring cycle. We have a whole new thing going.

Where do you hang out in Brooklyn? CK: Madiba in Fort Greene with South African food. I really like the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal. I hang out at Glasslands a fair amount. We played a “test show” there before we came out here. No one was allowed to come except our sound guy and the bartenders.

Hype us up about the new album … CK: We really pushed electronics on this new record. We’re trying to mash up some new genres. I was listening to some industrial music that I hadn’t heard before that my wife got me into. We mixed a lot of that with some really pretty sounds to get a little more edge to our music. I’m really, really excited about a lot of the sonic textures. A lot of the songwriting is undeniably dancey. I want some of these songs to be club bangers … as much as Yeasayer would do a club banger. This shit is remix-ripe. I think we matured a lot as we were playing shows over the last couple years, since the last record was so ethereal, this is just very focused and very pop. People may hate, people may like it. But I’m stoked.

How did Bonnaroo act as a forum for your music? Gregg Gillis: The organizers were very relaxed, which was cool. I think it was good that I was going last and went on a bit late and beyond that, I come from a background where I used to play very short sets. For many years I rarely played for more than 20 minutes. Last night, they gave me an hour and a half slot, and typically, I don’t like to play that long. I can accomplish what I want to accomplish in an hour, and it can be very intense, and people can go nuts in that hour. I actually prepared more music than I’ve ever prepared to fill that hour and a half. No one stopped me from playing the full time slot, even though we went on late. We didn’t have much security on stage, and people were climbing over the barricade more than they expected, and it got out of control at the beginning — which is typical at a club, not so much at a festival. I liked that. I don’t want things to end, and I don’t want people to get hurt, but I want some level of chaos and I want it to be a free for all.

During your set, the digital screen kept flashing the phrase, “I’m Not A DJ.” Aren’t you a DJ? GG: For six years when I existed on a much smaller level; I had never, ever gotten an offer to do a DJ gig or play as a DJ. Once things started to pick up a bit, we started getting all these offers like, “Can you play three hours at this place.” And I’d never really played over an hour. I had to keep specifying, even though you think this would be cool, that’s not the style of show I play. With any band, you pick an identity, and you make music within that world. A big effort with Girl Talk, for me, has been keeping people from steering it into this dance club world. I never wanted to be up in a booth, and I never just want to be just playing songs. I want to have stuff that’s going to be transformative. Ideally, even though it’s based on samples, I want people to view it as an original music project. It’s an abstract concept and that’s half the fun. I like to push the way people think about what is original music.

How do you feel aboutfans trying to catalogue every song you play in a set? GG: It raises the bar for me when people are bootlegging shows and keeping track of sample listings. Every show has a million YouTube hits and people get to hear what I play every night. Last night, I played bits and pieces of stuff that I worked on during my layover in the airport. It’s exciting that I can make something in the airport, play it, and then it’s forever documented on YouTube. It definitely puts pressure on myself. I can’t just play a show today that would be completely different from last night. It would take me a really long time to do that. I know that people come out to multiple shows, and I like to be in touch with what they’re thinking as much as possible. It makes me want to work a lot more.
Girl Talk Tickets House Of Blues – Boston Tickets Boston Tickets

‘GQ’ Elects Men of the Year

imageHere’s a toplist with a difference, courtesy of GQ. It’s topically relevant, it’s functional, it’s their pick for “Men of the Year.” The magazine casts a wide net in drafting “athletes, actors and newsmakers” and consequently ends up running the gamut from hipstery coolness to brazen impudence to extraordinary humanity. The roster includes Shepard Fairey, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, the guys of MGMT, the Boston Celtics, and naturally, our incoming President. More telling, however, are entries for M.I.A. and Megan Fox — a pair of women whose subversive inclusion echoes the far more interesting roster –i.e., which ladies rocked the “Men of the Year” party.

MGMT Teaches You How to Party

MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, creators of insanely catchy electropop tunes like “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” give pointers on partying naked, stoned and succumbing to the temptations of cookies and sparkling water.

A Typical Night Out: (Andrew VanWyngarden) When we’re on the road, we tend to party a lot on the bus. The best times we have are when we’re up until six in the morning, listening to music with some random folks. They’re not groupies, just girls we got to know. (Ben Goldwasser) I am definitely more of a night person than Andrew is. One thing I miss about living in New York is that there is always something to do, no matter what time of night. I like the bars in Brooklyn. We used to go to this bar called Lost & Found in Greenpoint. It’s not very popular, but it’s on the corner right where we practice. They have free hot dogs, and hardcore bands on the weekends. We usually go on the weekdays.

Nighttime Playlist: (AVW) It’s always pretty mellow on our bus, music-wise. Recently, there’s been a lot of Hawaiian music, a lot of flat-key guitar and falsetto voice, dub reggae, Tangerine Dream and Spiritualized. Funkadelic definitely gets the party started, and Shuggie Otis is always good.

How The Night Inspires Us Creatively: (AVW) We write songs, but not really music we’re going to put on an album. We get inspired and do crazy things and record weird stuff. We should tape more. I like staying up very late, but only occasionally. I think it makes it more special when it’s not every night. (BG) It usually takes me all day to wake up. The time that I am most awake and have the most ideas is usually around 10 or 11 at night. I don’t know why that is. I definitely like involving a lot of daylight in my schedule — most of the album was written during the day. But I think most of the conceptualizing, the putting together of ideas, comes together at night. I am also inspired by being a little exhausted and delirious.

Life Imitating Art: (AVW) Touring is pretty crazy, health-wise. I’ve been drinking a lot less, taking it easy and preserving my health. I stay away from fast food, and try not to do ecstasy every night. Smoking pot allows me to be silly and weird and dance by myself. I’ve also been drinking a lot of sparkling water lately, which tickles my fancy. I think it’s amazing that sparkling water is not any worse for you than normal water. It tastes like a treat, like there’s sugar in it. And also, I love cookies, ice cream and desserts. (BG) Andrew is definitely the dessert person. I’m trying to steer clear of beer. In Japan, I tried something called Umeshu — a liquor with lower proof. It’s really refreshing. You can mix it with other drinks.

Lethal Beverage: (BG) We played a festival in Budapest, and it was the backstage drink special called the Lamborghini, with three different layers of colored liqueur in a martini glass. You take a straw on ice, and you put it on the bottom of the glass, light the drink on fire and drop cinnamon in it, and it makes fireworks. You have to drink the whole drink, and as you’re drinking it, the bartender pours a shot of absinthe into the glass. It was a really decadent night, because there was also a booth set up for massages at the festival. So I drank this ridiculous drink, got two massages and felt out of my mind. I think jet lag was part of it, and the massage released toxins that had been building up in my body. I had an out of body experience.

Kinkiest Party: (AVW) As students at Wesleyan University, we lived in a clothing-optional dorm where the real concentrated nudity happened at naked parties held twice a year. At the beginning, it’s less sexually charged. People are so nervous, and everyone’s self-conscious about their bodies. There’s lots of eye contact and conversations, because people don’t want to stare at people’s penises and boobs, but then you end up doing it anyway. The whole campus was welcome, so a dude from the football team with a 10-inch penis might just be behind you. (BG) I realized that most people look really weird naked.

Original Dance: (AVW) A praying mantis that we kept as a pet as college roommates inspired the riff in “Time to Pretend.” It’s not a dance that is recognized by the dance community. If you know how the praying mantis looks, it’s pretty simple to figure out how it might dance. Mostly, it’s in the arms. (BG) It’s like a T-Rex in attack pose, and moving your arms up and down. Our praying mantis would actually dance when we’d play the Combat Rock album by the Clash.

How You React to Hearing Your Songs On A Playlist: (BG) I usually try to block it out. (AVW) I get self-conscious. If I’m drunk enough, I’ll dance kind of ironically to it.