MGMT has come a long way since forming on the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT in the early 2000s, just a stones throw from ESPN headquarters.
The "dazzling electro-psych" band, as described by Rolling Stone in a review of the their 2008 debut album "Oracular Spectacular," has since opened for Paul McCartney at Fenway Park, released two more critically-acclaimed albums and been nominated for two Grammy Awards. Back in the Nutmeg State for a tour stop, we caught up with lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden to ask how he got Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on stage at a show back in November.
Andrew, thanks for the time. So let’s get right to it. MGMT and Andrew Luck on stage together. Set the scene.
We usually have some kind of contest in each city and the winner gets to play the cowbell. Or we might bring out a friend. Our tour manager had played at the same venue with another band and Luck had come to that show. They were still in contact so we asked Andrew if he wanted to play and he did! Him and Anthony Castanzo came and played. Andrew seemed like a pretty hip dude. I had a great time and it was amazing just to stand next to him. The cowbell is like 75 pounds and it comes with a giant drumstick. Seeing this mega-man doing it was pretty funny to watch.
You’re not a huge sports fan though, right? Did you realize who these guys were?
James Richardson, our guitarist, was even more into it than me. He’s obsessed with everything NFL and fantasy football. He’s a Redskins fan, but he was still really into it.
Do you guys still get excited by finding out who listens to your music or in what areas of the world you are most popular?
Definitely. It’s always exciting. We’ve gone to places like South Korea where people are singing every word. It’s amazing to see. It’s fun to know when a celebrity or athlete likes our music.
What was it like playing Fenway Park when you opened for Paul McCartney?
We’re not really a stadium band. It was amazing to see Paul McCartney with all his pyrotechnics and stuff. I think a stadium like that is more suited to legendary acts like him. Being on the field at Fenway was very cool though.
Coming back to Connecticut must be a bit of a trip down memory lane. As was your recent show in Pittsburgh where you grew up. What has the last week been like?
Pittsburgh really was a trip down memory lane. We hadn’t played there since I think 2005. I haven’t really been around there much since I grew up. I went out with my tour manager just driving around to see the school I went to and the house I grew up in. And the place we are playing here in Connecticut, I think I went to a show or two there when I was in college.
Coming up you have the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That’s still a fairly new venue, not a ton of artists have played there. Are you particularly excited about that show?
We’re really stoked about the Brooklyn show. It will be our first show in New York in over three years. It’s nice for that to be the closing show of this big US tour. We’re playing with Dinosaur Jr. and Kuroma. It’s going to be pretty sweet. I hope all my friends can come.
Are you going to get some time off after that show?
We don’t get much time off until mid-January. We are going to Australia and Japan over New Year’s. I hope I can get some surfing in. I have some friends in Sydney and I hope we can get in the water.
What is it about surfing that you fell in love with?
I already loved the ocean and being in nature. I was into skateboarding and snowboarding when I was a kid, so this is the perfect thing for me. It’s therapeutic to just sit out there, even by yourself in 30 degree water.
What should people expect when they go to a MGMT show?
It’s gotten to a good point where it’s a combination of songs from all three of the albums we have put out. We play with a six-piece band. It all works well together, especially the visuals behind us. We’ve been having some of the best shows we’ve ever played in the last couple months. I’m anxious to show everyone in New York how far we’ve come since 2010.