Passion Pit comes to Iron City Live on Thursday, October 3. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show beginning at 8 p.m. The Joy Formidable opens. A very limited number of tickets still remain for $32 and can be purchased online or at the venue.
I spoke to bassist Jeff Apruzzese about how the band chooses songs to remix, how they will scale down their set from Hangout and Bonnaroo to fit Iron City and frontman Michael Angelakos’s public battle with mental illness.
Blake Ells for Birmingham Box Set:
How do you choose songs that you want to remix? I have a difficult time finding them packaged, but I really enjoy some of them, like “Tonight, Tonight” and “Dreams.”
The covers are more of a long, ongoing discussion than a back-and-forth argument. With “Dreams,” we were on tour and listening to that a lot and it worked out. We’re starting to talk about new covers for the Fall tour; we’ve had ideas from Weezer to Ne-Yo to Miley Cyrus. We try to do stuff that people will know; we don’t want it to be something obscure that no one gets. And we hope that we can do something unique with it and take it to another level.
I saw you do Hangout and Bonnaroo sets this year, and you had a sprawling, massive backdrop for those huge stages. How do you scale that down for theater shows?
It’s actually the opposite with that problem. There’s more production. Usually, with Bonnaroo or another festival, we’re not headlining and they limit what you can bring when you’re sharing the stage with Paul McCartney. He gets what he wants. [laughs]
We’ve played festivals in Europe and Australia and we’ll walk around and you don’t recognize a song, but maybe you see the band name on a huge marquee above the stage and you say, “Oh, yeah!”
We realized that we were the only band that didn’t have that. For theater shows, we have upgraded and integrated production videos that create a unique experience for the crowd.
I’ve been told that the band uses Sitori Sonics, a pedal made here in Birmingham by Emmanuel Ellinas. How did you hook up with him and what can you tell me about that relationship?
I think we actually found out about them through – at one point we were really interested in St. Vincent – and she was using them. She has such a crazy guitar tone and we sought it out. We love guitar pedals. Every campaign we start, I build these boards that I think we will use. But usually, the simpler the better.
How do you feel about winning new fans through licensing?
I think it’s cool. It’s kind of an adaptation of touring in a way, especially the way it was back in the day. Nineties bands were touring to get their music out there, unless they had huge radio hits. Touring was helping do that. When you can get your music in a television show or a commercial, it’s kind of accomplishing the same thing.
People have a misconception that it makes a band super rich, but in reality, it’s presented as more of an airplay thing. It takes on a life of its own.
Michael hasn’t really shied away from discussing his battle with mental illness that ended the 2012 tour. How did that affect the rest of the band?
If anything, it was good to get it out. We had canceled some shows and that led to having to cancel the tour. His brutal honesty was all that could save us at that point. I think it’s cool because people aware of it can associate themselves with the music. People have reached out to him that don’t know how to deal with their own battles. His coming forward made it possible to help others.
Everything is great now. To navigate a healthy lifestyle for anyone being on the road all the time – it’s not easy. You just need to sleep a lot and relax. It’s exciting to check things out when you go to new cities, but you have to take care of your body. You have to eat well and sleep well and not go out every night; your body can suffer. You have to step back and make responsible decisions, like, who care if you watch three movies at night? As long as the show was good, you did your job.
Are you guys Boston sports fans?
Well, we’re actually in New York now. We went to school in Boston, but it was time to move on. I’m not a big baseball fan, but I’m a huge football fan. I love the Giants.
Who are the top five American rock bands of all time?
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for me. I saw him on his five show run at the Beacon, and it was awesome.
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – they’re still out there playing so many shows, and it’s a crazy, crazy show. Like three hours.