With a new album, Congratulations, out now, MGMT are headed West for Southbound, happening at Sir Stewart Bovell Park, Busselton, on Friday-Saturday, January 3-4. TYSON WRAY checks in.
Ben Goldwasser was 25-years-old when he and fellow band member, Andrew Van Wyngarden, were thrust viciously into the global spotlight.
In 2008 the duo released arguably the biggest breakthrough debut album of the decade in Oracular Spectacular, and while the paramount levels of success were no doubt welcome, the subsequent pressures and expectations laid upon them became overpowering and deeply affected their artistic output.
“When we worked on Congratulations we didn’t really give ourselves much of a break after touring Oracular Spectacular,” explains Goldwasser. “A lot of the moods on that album were influenced by what we were feeling, which for the most part was overwhelmed by all of the attention we were getting and not really knowing how to deal with fame and success. It’s really easy to get disillusioned with the whole machine that is the music industry.”
It was these realisations that led the duo to step back and take an unrefined approach when they recorded their third self-titled studio album. “Things were pretty crazy for a while – it got really confusing. But now we’re really feeling in control, “ states Goldwasser. “We’re feeling really confident and really happy with the music that we’ve made. We’re really excited that now people can finally hear it, we’ve been waiting for a fair while. On this album we really gave ourselves a lot of time to decompress after we finished touring, which I think really helped. We were in a really good frame-of-mind when working on this album.”
For MGMT, the duo returned to Tarbox Road Studios to work with long-time collaborator Dave Fridmann (co-producer and mixer of Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations). “We had a lot more time with Dave to record all of the album up there, we actually learnt a lot of the songs in the studio,” he notes.
“Previously we’d do a lot of the recording somewhere else and already have these fully-fledged ideas of how we wanted things to sound and what the arrangements of the songs would be before we went to work with him. This time we went up there with a clean slate. It was a cool way to work. We really just recorded ourselves jamming in the studio. Just recording for a couple of hours and then going back and listening to what we did and picking moments that we thought would be cool to expand on and try and turn into a song. A lot of it was written like that – which was really fun.
“For this album we used a lot more analogue synths and drum machines than we ever did in the past. A lot of it was written by setting up sequences, building up from something and synchronising a bunch of things together and slowly starting to make changes to the patterns that were playing and getting a lot of variations and stringing together a song that way.
“In a lot of ways in was a lot more organic instead of just sitting at a piano with a guitar and trying to write a pop song, which can be really stressful.”
MGMT play Southbound, happening at Sir Stewart Bovell Park, Busselton, on Friday-Saturday, January 3-4.
Get Your Tickets Here.