Passion Pit

In Interview on August 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

(Left, Synthesizer and guitarist, Ian Hultquist; Right, Keyboardist, Ayad Al Adhamy)

          “Wait- at what age do you mean? Because when I was four I wanted to be a dragon,” replied Ian Hultquist, the guitarist and synthesizer player for the Boston-born indie electronic band, Passion Pit. Keyboardist, Ayad Al Adhamy explained that when he was younger, he wanted to be a man in a tie and a suit. “I did too- but playing music,” added Ian. “I like wearing a tie- I like dressing up when I play but no one else in the band let’s me do it.” I asked why that was, with a laugh. Ayad explained that in a year everyone in the band will play in suits. When I asked if it would be like the Beatles, Ayad said, “No…” Though, Hultquist interjected with, “YES. Except our pointy toed shoes will get crushed in the trailer.”

         Both band members have musical pasts, with Ian learning to play music in the 5th grade, and Ayad learning guitar when he was 12. Ayad said he and his friends “used to record shit that was just so cute” and at 14 knew he wanted to go to school for music. Which was what he and Hulquist did. Other members Nate Apruzzese, Jeff Donmoyer, and Michael Angelakos attended college as well, though Mike, who is the youngest, left early. How could he not when a demo cd called, “Chunk of change” that was originally a belated Valentine’s gift for his girlfriend at the time went from just being passed around to friends to what everyone around campus was listening to? It included 6 songs, one being the stunning, “Sleepyhead”. In a video interview, Mike said he was not able to elaborate much on the new album [Manners] because it was not finished, but it would have ten tracks. Manners actually had eleven. Ian explained that the eleventh song was Sleepyhead; it wasn’t originally intended to be on the LP but their manager said more people were going to hear Manners than Chunk of Change, and a great song like Sleepyhead shouldn’t fade into the background. The vocals for Sleepyhead were recorded in Hultquist’s bedroom, and the track remained mostly the same on the album. Producer, Chris Zane, just mixed it a bit, turned the bass up, and here it is.

         When asked if they ran into problems running between school, playing shows, and recording the answer was, oh yes. This past spring was Ayad’s last semester in college, and though he had wanted to double major, had to scrap the original plan due to conflict, even though he really enjoyed both. He was only enrolled in one class, but wouldn’t be able to attend for the last four weeks because a tour was beginning. He worked on his projects in the van and while most students had two months to complete the final project, Ayad banged his out in a week and sent his professor a rough cut of fifteen minutes worth of music. The professor said he could have done better, but gave him a “B”. Ian graduated in May of 2008, and even though it wasn’t as cumbersome as Ayad’s experience in his last semester, he did run into some interesting situations, such as graduation starting at 10 AM and needing to run straight to the Bank of America Pavilion afterwards to open for Death Cab For Cutie by 1 PM. I’m not sure if your agenda gets any better than that. Unless it’s the other way around and Death Cab is opening for you.

         The music media has really enjoyed throwing labels at the band, calling them the best new band of 2009, and the “next big thing”. The compliment is nice, but to ask what someone feels about the buzz they’ve gathered or a prediction is ludicrous. It’s a question they get asked in most interviews, and is often a wasted one. “It’s been alright so far. There’s times when we get scared and overwhelmed because it’s really easy to get taken advantage of,” said Ian of the band’s labels and success. Though, he feels they have been quite lucky in finding people to work with that care about them and are also very good at what they do. The band has been able to take things as they’ve come along, and even though a friend of Ian’s opinion was that he’d be recognized all the time, Ian doesn’t seem to think so. In at least two interviews he’s claimed that no one ever knows he’s in the band, “but I’m enjoying it while I can, I guess.” “I find it strange how it affects your personal life, because we don’t really get to be home anymore,” said Ayad.

         A good thing about touring is that you get to see all your friends from college that moved to various places after graduating, though the repetition still develops. Hultquist described it as, “Go to sleep. Wake up. Drive, drive, drive. Play a show. Check into a hotel. Sleep. Wake up. Drive, drive, drive.” “I try to compensate for the monotony by talking to random people and going out late with the other dudes in the bands. But I have a good skill of being able to wake up the next day totally fine,” said Ayad. Though he was met with a smile and the remark, “We’ll see how much longer you can hold onto it.” It seemed as though Ian had lost it.

         Ayad would like to become a knight one day. “I’m English, so I could feasibly become a knight.” What do you have to do..? He added, “You have to just do awesome shit your whole life. Someone will say, ‘You know what man- you have done great things or stuff,’” recognize his greatness, and then he “can die happily.” Rad. Ayad can become a knight, and then he can slay Ian. Can’t make for a very happy band practice though.. Ian’s reply for future wishes were just as abstract. He feels that the direction the band is moving, a lot of great things are possible, though he hopes not only to follow through, keep his head about him, and not turn into an asshole, but also that whenever a break is taken in the band that he’s able to do whatever makes him happy. What do you need to make you happy, I asked. “Um, time. ha. I don’t know. Be with the people you wanna be with, do what you wanna do when you wanna do it.” He sounded like a rock and roll pop song. “In my spare time,” Ian continued, “it’s gonna involve music. It could be putting together film scores. Me taking two days out to write a score would be a breath of fresh air.” “I want to produce records in my spare time,” said Ayad. He also seeks to be an actor, like Jason Schwartzman.

         If you could invite any 3 people you wanted to a sleepover, who would it be? “I’m having a sleepover?” “No-if you were, it’s hypothetical,” Ian told Ayad. “Well, I would bring Ayad,” Ian started, “except he’d have to sleep in a different room because his snoring is intolerable.” “Really? Because I was thinking Jenna Jameson..” “Yeah, I know you were.” Ayad became slightly serious and said he would invite Aaron
Copeland, Quincy Jones, and Leonard Theremin. Theremin created an instrument often heard in sci-fi and horror films. It’s more or less a rod on top of a rectangular block. You play it by varying the distance between yours hands and the rod and moving your hands up and down. I hadn’t heard of this instrument, and the two of them proceeded to demonstrate the sound it can make, which after tracking down a few videos online, ended up being pretty excellent renditions. Though, Theremin speaking with Copeland, who is in Ayad’s opinion one of the best composers to come along in the past century, and Jones popping in as well would be a great time and an interesting collaboration of minds. Ian would bring Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and Justin Timberlake. “Oh! And another guy- Ray Kurzweil. He created a bunch of synthesizers and has amazing theories. Like, in 50 years we’ll all be robots. The way he describes it, I kind of believe him,” gushed Ayad. “I’ve got Stevie, Justin, and Bob. You’ve got a bunch of geeks,” taunted Ian. But, Ayad wasn’t phased. “It’d be a party. Strings and theremin.” Yes, a party indeed.

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