A passion for the sound
In the recording studio, Passion Pit is Michael Angelakos, pop singer, songwriter, one-man band.
On stage, Passion Pit is Angelakos and a stage full of musicians. Angelakos and his on-stage players re-create the many layers of instrumental parts he originally produced largely on his own.
Guitarist and keyboardist Ian Hultquist is a core member of the stage version of Passion Pit. Before Passion Pit existed as performance entity, Angelakos recorded and released 2008’s “Chunk of Change” EP. Hultquist heard the EP, approached Angelakos and suggested that the songs be brought to the stage.
“Michael is a songwriter,” Hultquist said. “The rest of us are a band. We’ll take those songs and do whatever we have to do with them to make them work on stage.”
Hultquist’s degree in film scoring from Boston’s Berklee College of Music doesn’t qualify him to write songs for Passion Pit, he said.
“Because all of the songs are personal to Michael,” he said. “I wouldn’t know how to write a Passion Pit song. And if we all wrote the songs together, they might not have the same effect.”
Translating Angelakos’ arrangements to the stage can be challenging, Hultquist said. Learning to play the songs on Passion Pit’s latest album, 2012’s “Gossamer,” was especially difficult.
“There is such complexity in the sound of ‘Gossamer,’ ” Hultquist said. “It took us longer than we thought it would take to really nail it, but, honestly, things sound really good now. There is such intensity and energy when the music is performed on stage.”
The ton of touring Passion Pit is doing this year follows a troubled 2012, when treatment for Angelakos’ bipolar disorder led to a succession of Passion Pit cancellations.
“It was difficult at first,” Hultquist said of the scrapped performances. “But I’ve known about any issues Michael has since I met him, seven years ago. We’ve been through everything along the way.”
Passion Pit’s rebound in 2013 includes a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden and a hit single, “Take a Walk.” The group’s fall tour includes the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and the newly renovated Civic Theatre in New Orleans.
“Once we did get back out, we hit the road hard,” Hultquist said. “We’re still hitting it hard.”
Whatever bumps in the road Passion Pit struck haven’t been disappointing enough to lessen Hultquist’s admiration for Angelakos and desire to work with him.
“He’s a great songwriter. I’d like the music of Passion Pit even if I were removed from it. It’s an amazing job for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another opportunity to be in a band for this long and see such a rise of success.”