INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Mojo MAY 2009 - by Andrew Perry
ENO! TREACY! SONIC BOOM!
MGMT's synth/psych heroes.
In their quest for post-millennial psychedelic truth, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser tracked down some figures from the past, darkly. To co-produce the album, they unearthed Sonic Boom who, alongside Spiritualized's Jason Pierce in Spacemen 3 (and beyond), was one half of a key guitar/synth-blending influence. His input included playing them hip music, availing them of items from his vast cache of vintage gear and providing "deep and meaningless" liner-notes, in the style of Andrew Loog Oldham. "Sunday bacon for the Monday generation", indeed!
"He had this rare digital reverb unit called thew EMT250 or something," VanWyngarden recalls. "It was like this little robot with a red handle, and it'll go to the next delay or reverb. He'd just be sitting in front of it, pulling the handle, and it'd click to the next setting and it'd suddenly go CHK-CHk-Chk-chk-chk... He'd always be making crazy noises."
The duo also drafted in Jennifer Herrema from avant-garage rockers Royal Trux to provide backing vocals on two tracks.
In 2008, they hooked up with Dan Treacy from Television Personalities, author of '78 indie-classic single Part Time Punks and numerous albums packed with lo-fi neo-psych originality and loving '60s pop-cultural reference. Treacy is known these days for his Syd Barrettesque waywardness. He recently fell off the stage after an erratic set at All Tomorrow's Parties. (Andrew: "I don't think he's necessarily got, like, a home right now...") He supported MGMT at two UK gigs, but was not involved in the record, instead being celebrated on Song For Dan Treacy.
A more ambivalent tribute is served up on rollicking tune Brian Eno which, says Ben, "pokes fun at the concept of the übergenius producer". According to Sonic Boom, the story runs deeper.
"They apparently asked Eno to do some track with them a while back. He was too busy, or said he'd never heard of them. Then Coldplay heard the song. I'm not sure if they played it to him, or told him about it. Last I heard, he was all interested in working with them suddenly. Thinking about it, I suspect he hasn't actually heard it, but I hope he has a sense of humour."