It’s been a wild year and a half for Passion Pit. In July 2012, the band returned to the fold with Gossamer, the long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s breakout hit Manners. Like its predecessor, the album was filled with sweeping, hyper-electronic rock ballads and ecstatic synths. The arrangements were sparkly and bold but juxtaposed with pained lyrics about troubled families, troubled loves, and troubled pasts. It didn’t take long for critics to herald Gossamer, both for its production and its subject matter. Popular radio and Billboard chart topping followed soon after. But as stories of the record’s lengthy making began to surface, so too did the tales of frontman Michael Angelakos’s ongoing struggles, which included grappling with a debilitating bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts.
In the many months since, Angelakos has sought treatment, returned to touring, and, eventually, married the fiancée for whom Gossamer was penned. “She’s one of these humans that deserves to be written about in a really wonderful way,” Angelakos told Interview last year. “I just hope that I did that and her justice.”
He’s also become a vocal advocate for the open discussion of mental-health issues. “I’ve kept so much inside that I’ve literally lost it,” he told Pitchfork. “I wish more people would get help when they feel like they need it — and not just to look to medicine, but to the support of others.”
This Saturday, Passion Pit headlines a show at the Santa Barbara Bowl. The concert is one of the last stops on the band’s nearly two-year tour in support of Gossamer. It also marks their first stop in town since 2010. I recently chatted with Angelakos about wrapping things up, what comes next, and his newfound outlook on life.
You guys are in the final month of tour for this record. Have you reflected on the experience? I think so, on some level. This was our first foray into alternative radio. We did a lot of really crazy things. We played to massive crowds and sold out shows that we never thought we could have. For me, I didn’t think this record was ever going to happen, but it did, and all of these wonderful things happened along the way. We’re really grateful, and we’re just trying to enjoy it as much as possible.
Have your feelings about the business changed? In terms of the industry, a lot has changed even in the last two years. I definitely have opinions about how I think things should be run just because I see bands getting screwed over and I see terrible bands getting way too much assistance. It’s a weird time, but I think the important thing to do is stay positive and be as honest with yourself as possible. If I was ever in a position where I had to compromise, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you right now. It completely defeats the purpose.
What crosses your mind when you think about going home? The word sleep immediately pops up. [Laughs.] But I’m never not working. If it’s not tour, it’s another project, and that’s just the way I am no matter what. I’m the kind of person who will probably never retire. I love being busy and having lots of things to do. I kind of go crazy if I have time off, but I am booking my honeymoon, finally.
Does it excite you to start thinking about a new Passion Pit album? Oh, of course. But the label isn’t pushing it. It’s kind of like, if you want to do it, then do it. I feel like some people don’t get it. I handed in Gossamer when it was done. [The label] was checking in early on, but I explained that it just doesn’t work that way. I’m very lucky to work with people that respect my space and know that I need time to compress and make sure that with all the other projects going on, Passion Pit stays Passion Pit. It’s very much a singular vision, and that takes a lot of concentration and a specific headspace. I have to be careful about when I execute it and how I execute it.
After a year and a half, does Gossamer still resonate with you? I mean, now all I hear are so many situations where I could have rearranged the song and just made it so much better, and it bothers me to the nth degree. After a certain point, the songs become dead and lifeless; playing it over and over again becomes torture. From a production standpoint, I think down the line, people will start to understand how really strange this record is, and that’s one thing I wouldn’t change about it. Looking back on it, I’m proud of the fact that I did certain things, but touring everyday … it’s maddening. Now I’m to the point where I’m trying to stop beating myself up over it and start thinking about what can I do in a preventative sense to make sure I never have to come across this again. And I will inevitably, but you know — that’s kind of my story.
Passion Pit plays the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.) on Saturday, October 26, at 7 p.m., with The Joy Formidable. Call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com for tickets and info.