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Monday 7th March, 2011 8:45AM

On the back of their sophomore album Congratulations, awkwardly received by many members of the listening and critical public, Ben Goldwasser, one half of psychedelic pop duo MGMT is understandably defensive when dealing with the press. UTR talked to Goldwasser about defending something they’re proud of, dealing with the haters and keeping it real.

Where in the world are MGMT at the moment?

Vienna at the moment, we are the in the middle of a European tour. We’re done with this tour at the end of this month and then we’re taking a little bit of time off for the holidays should be well rested by the time we get down to New Zealand. It’s gonna be really good we had a great time we were in NZ last time.

Tell me about Congratulations. It was considered a massive departure from Oracular Spectacular. Do you agree?

Not really and I don’t think we were trying to intentionally trying to confuse anybody with this album. It just represents us more than some people’s descriptions represented us. For people who have been following what we’ve been doing the last few years it’s not that different. I guess for people who are only familiar with the stuff we had that went on Oracular spectacular – ‘Time to Pretend’ or ‘Kids’ – it’s definitely different from that.

From someone who has only listened to Oracular Spectacular how would you describe MGMT as a band?

I don’t know the best way to describe except to describe our influences. We listen to a lot of sixties psychedelic pop music like Love and The Beach Boys and also a lot of 80’s post punk.. We’re inspired by sixties music a lot though, and I think it’s this music that really stands up as a reference.

Were you trying to get anything specific across on the album?

No particularly I guess, the album kind of represents how we were feeling about things last year rather than any point we were trying to get across. We were just focused on making good music. I think that it’s pretty personal - probably more so than the one before – it’s about every day life experiences and things.

It must have been hard to deal with the reception to Congratulations?

I think it seemed like there was kind of a knee jerk reaction when we put out the album coming from people who expected something different from us and thought we were letting our fans down or something. We weren’t really trying to loose our fans or anything. We just kept telling people to give it some time and let it sink in, which is not something you can tell people these days because people expect to have something put on the internet and to get it right away and move onto something else. I think by now the record has been out long enough that people have started to get quite excited about it and starting to get it.

It almost seems like a lot of people didn’t give it much of a chance?

We tried not to pay much attention to it, but it’s easy for bands to fall into the trap of playing to the media. No offense, but any time somebody reacts to something the media does they change their story or change what they’re doing in order to make everybody happy. It was most important for us to not lose track of ourselves and what we are actually trying to do. We’re not doing this in order to gain a massive audience, if a lot of people like what we’re doing that’s great, but we’re doing it because we think it’s good music and we love doing this.

And you guys were obviously happy with the album, so it must have been frustrating to get the response it did?

Yeah totally - it was really frustrating! Like you said lots of people didn’t give it a chance and blatantly said to us “come on you know your first album was better than this” and we were like “well, our first one had hits on it and this one doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad album.” Most of the music I listen to falls into the category of not being a hit or never having been a hit.

Going forward, are you moving anywhere differently musically?

I donno, I think in some ways what we do next might be more pop in a way but not the kind of pop music you would be expecting from us. But we are inspired by a lot of really simple pop music with amazing structures - not like sugar coated pop music but stuff that unwittingly gets stuck in your head.

And I guess it must be nice in a way to have gone through the criticism with Congratulations so now you can do what you like and not pay as much attention to the white noise?

Yeah I hope it will start to be taken for granted that there are more dimensions to what we do than just the first thing people heard from us. Then I think people will get that what we do next might not sound like what we’ve done before but it still might be worth checking out.


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