“If being popular happens, it happens”: MGMT

How do you feel about Congratulations?
My favorite thing about it is that we really captured what it felt like to record as a side piece band in California and it still takes me to that moment. It’s the first time I’ve ever been involved in something, finished it and felt like I totally nailed it. I was a lot happier with this one.
So it’s a lot different than when you finished Oracular Spectacular?
When we finished that, it was more like, “thank goodness it’s over.”
We heard you guys wanted to call the second album Congratulations even before it was finished. Do you reckon you made the right choice?
Yeah, I think so. A lot of people were saying that it wouldn’t be a commercial success like the first album. It’s cool when good pop music becomes successful but I don’t think that’s the end goal for it. If being popular happens, it happens. It’s more about making music we like. I think we made a good album. I like it.
Your title track has a sort of mournful sound to it. And it’s dedicated to pop culture? Tell us more about that.
That song is most obviously about us as a band. The music and lyrics were written when we were pretty disillusioned about touring. We were sort of burnt out after finishing the first album. It was kind of depressing, I guess. A word that describes it would be “jaded.” But it’s fun performing that song now because our attitude is so different.
A lot of us here are catching you live for the first time. What can we expect?
It’s basically just us standing there playing our instruments. It’s not very theatrical music; it’s more about playing the music well as a live band. We have a friend of ours doing digital stuff on screen behind us, which is really cool. It feels really neat to get wrapped in the whole audio-visual thing.
What’s the craziest crowd you’ve ever played for?
The show we just played in Argentina was right up there. We played a show on a huge beach and there were like 30,000 people or something. It felt like a real rock concert. People were going crazy.
Tell us about life at home.
I like New York—it’s a huge city and I hadn’t lived in a big city before I moved here. It’s so big that you kind of have to find your own smaller version of New York. You can’t really deal with the whole city all at once. My life here is simple and I can live it anywhere. I have my apartment set up like home the way I like it and I pretty much don’t leave.
Don’t miss MGMT & The Whitest Boy Alive on Mar 24, 8pm at Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Hall 603, Suntec City, 1 Raffles Blvd., 6337-2888. $138 from Sistic.