No 'Time to Pretend' as MGMT gear up for Asia tour

Pretending to be obnoxious rock stars in the belief their band would never get noticed only became a problem for Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser when they suddenly became famous.

For the two core members of the psychedelic New York-based band MGMT, sharp and fast fame brought by the success of their 2007 debut album Oracular Spectacular also tested a friendship formed at university.

"It was a running joke for us when we would perform in college that we'd adopt these fake rock star personas when we played live, thinking that we were never going to get noticed," said Goldwasser on the phone from New York.

"But then we got noticed. And then we kind of freaked out."

MGMT (pronounced M.G.M.T.) are set to embark on an Asian tour that begins in Japan on Tuesday.

That will be followed by appearances in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hong Kong and South Korea, having navigated the tricky follow-up to a successful debut album.

Fame, fortune and recognition as indie heartthrobs has drawn a complicated response from the band formed at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, a liberal arts and sciences school where the pair met as freshmen in September 2001.

An early song, Time to Pretend, was both a fantasy and satire of rock stardom written at a time when neither took seriously the idea of being in a band, Goldwasser says.

But Columbia Records thought differently and signed them, forcing the two fans of uncommercial psychedelia from late reclusive Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, or self-destructive Dan Treacy of indie band the Television Personalities, to take life a little more seriously.

Which in part meant not playing the Ghostbusters theme for 45 minutes straight, as was reportedly their wont to do during early live shows.

Most musicians would dream of a record deal being handed to them, but keyboardist and co-composer Goldwasser says he and VanWyngarden, both 28, were troubled by the idea despite it parachuting them from students into stardom.

"We were in denial about it for a long time and didn't believe it was real," he said.

The band won audiences the world over with a debut album packed full of intricate pop melodies with a nod to psychedelia, rock and electronic music. Oracular Spectacular has sold more than one million copies worldwide.

But Goldwasser says he and VanWyngarden found themselves instinctively shrinking back from their success.

"We were getting bigger and bigger crowds but we felt it was just a phenomenon and not actually about what we wanted to be doing," he said.

"It felt like it was getting out of control," he adds. "It did affect our friendship - we had to take something seriously that for such a long time was just a way to blow off steam for us."

Last year began amid accusations MGMT were about to commit commercial suicide with their follow-up album Congratulations and that they sought to pare away the fame and fairweather fans that their debut had brought them.

But it was far from the disaster predicted by some corners of the music press, instead a slow-burning homage to the band's core - albeit distinctly uncommercial - influences.

"There wasn't any sort of analytical or calculated side to it, we weren't trying to throw off fans," said Goldwasser. "That was kind of a tough period."

Congratulations went on to receive positive reviews from fans and critics, and Goldwasser says he and VanWyngarden have come to terms with the knowledge that ideas they might not take seriously nevertheless have a mass appeal.

"Having all this turn into a big deal was a test on our friendship but now we agree how ridiculous it all is. We know to keep at the back of our minds that no matter what happens, none of this is supposed to make sense."

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy