I just had the pleasure of talking with super-chill and very amenable Jeff Apruzzese from Passion Pit. When he answered the phone, he had only recently awakened on the road somewhere in the southeastern corner of Oregon. Passion Pit, touring heavily since January, continues to play their joy-infused, electronica-enhanced pop music to sold-out shows around the world. If the sound of Jeff’s voice is an accurate indicator, then the Passion Pit 5 are gleaning every last drop of enjoyment from the experience.
JA: Hi, how’s it going?
LW: Hi, doing well, how are you?
JA: Great. I’m on the road. I actually just woke up. We’re driving through Oregon…
LW: What’s it like there?
JA: It’s pretty beautiful. There are some pretty amazing mountains and grassy fields.
LW: What part of Oregon are you in?
JA: We’re driving from, where were we last night? Oh, yeah, Salt Lake City. We’re somewhere in the Southeast part. We’re driving through from Salt Lake City to Eugene, where we have the night off but we’ll play tomorrow.
LW: That should be awesome.
LW: Are you guys having fun?
JA: We’re having a great time. We’re on the 13th day and we’re still in good spirits. After a couple of weeks we’ll probably be getting sick of each other. But we always have fun.
LW: I read on your Twitter that you’re looking for free tattoos.
JA: (Laughing) Yeah, we thought we’d exploit the band. (More laughing)
LW: Any luck so far?
JA: No, no luck so far.
LW: Maybe in Eugene tonight.
JA: Maybe. Maybe it’s for the better that we haven’t had luck so far. I could have ended up with a collection of stupid tattoos to add to the ones I’ve already got.
LW: What did you want to get?
JA: I wanted to get a high wheeler bike.
LW: A bicycle?
JA: Yeah, a high wheeler, you know, the old-timey kind with the large wheel in front and a small wheel in back. I’m into cycling. I thought that would be cool.
LW: Where would you get it?
JA: On my tricep – the back of my arm.
JA: Yeah, just another dumb tattoo to memorialize my young times. (I could hear him smiling a shit-eating grin when he said this.)
LW: Almost everywhere you go, you’re playing to sold-out crowds, at least in America. Is it the same when you head overseas?
JA: Yeah, we’ve been so blessed. People are so gracious everywhere we go. We do have a similar turnout over there. We are really blessed. We’ve had less than a dozen shows that were not sold out and we’ve been touring since January.
LW: I read about the beginning (or supposed beginning) of the band – that Mike supposedly wrote some love poems that turned into songs to give to a girl….
JA: Yeah, do you want me to expound on that?
LW: Well, sure, if you feel like it, unless you’ve already told the story a thousand times.
JA: I have told it thousands of times. It was love stories. I’ll tell you the abridged version. He wrote a collection of songs to give to his girlfriend at the time as a Valentine’s present to apologize for being a bad boyfriend. I think, in his style, it was about 2 months late, too. The songs got around, people at school began to hear it. Then he and the guitarist /keyboard player started a band.
LW: Did you ever expect the band to take off like this?
JA: No, not at all. I literally had just graduated college. We started playing all these shows and going on tour right after I graduated.
LW: Pretty amazing
JA: Yeah, absolutely insane. There are so many other bands that deserve to be in our position. We feel so lucky, even in a bad market and a bad financial climate, we are lucky enough to go on tour.
LW: What did you guys study in school? Was it music related?
JA: Well, Mike went to Emerson and I and the others went to Berklee. I graduated in music business. I started out in music business and performance, but I dropped performance halfway through because I thought it would be too much work. I planned to graduate and get a job in the industry. It was funny, when we signed to French Kiss, I had actually interned with some of the guys there previously at Kemado Records, a small label in New York.
LW: Many will try to pigeonhole bands in order to describe their sound. I saw somewhere that you were called “Electro Rockers”. How do you describe your own music?
JA: In the simplest form. It’s pop music. They’re pop songs that happen to be performed with a lot of electronic gear. I get a kind of bad taste when I hear terms like “electro rockers”. I just feel it’s pop that happens to be played with the addition of some electronic sounds.
LW: I loved the video piece of you guys working in the studio with the kids’ choir.That looked like so much fun.
JA: Oh, yeah. That was a blast. I wasn’t there at the studio that day. Mike was the only one who was actually there.
LW: How did you find the kids?
JA: You Tube.
LW: You Tube! Really?
JA: Yeah, because none of the people we asked were going to bring down their professional choirs to sing in the studio on somebody’s record. These kids were in an after school program in Long Island that meets once a week. They were already singing The Beatles, Tori Amos, a bunch of popular music.
* Our ten minutes went fast. We got the signal that we had to wrap up the call. There was so much to talk about and Jeff seemed friendly enough to keep going. Nevertheless, I chose the obvious for a final question:
LW: You’re on a long tour now. Then what?
JA: Then lots of rest. We’re on our longest tour to date. We’re all trying to rest. When we start to see the light at end of the tunnel, maybe a new record will start to be talked about or even thought about.
LW: Thanks, Jeff. Thank you so much for your time!
JA: Alright, bye.
Watch Fader’s inspiring video below of Michael Angelakos with Long Island’s PS22 Chorus in the studio recording for Passion Pit’s Manners album:
Juan’s Basement (keep watching, 3 songs plus 2 brief interviews):