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Passion Pit sums up a big year, pick their faves of '09

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer It happens every year: some bands make it, others don't. Boston quintet Passion Pit lands fortunately on the side of success, showered with critical praise for their album Manners and its star entry "Sleepyhead," aside from playing the year's coolest outdoor festivals and trading small clubs for small theaters in a single year for their own headlining gigs. By appearance, the group looks like an updated version of Dead Poets Society. Sound-wise, they've got a rather unique style - a potpourri of saucy keyboards, jumpy guitars, lots of interesting percussion, and high-pitched vocals. In a small dressing room backstage at the Moore Theatre last week, hours before the band played to a packed house, I sat down with guitarist-keyboardist Ian Hultquist and drummer Nate Donmoyer to talk about the past year. As an exclusive to our Best of Music 2009 wrap-up, here's what these guys shared with me.



Albert Rodriguez: What are your picks for the year's best music?

Nate Donmoyer: No list could be considered complete without Phoenix's album [Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix] and Dirty Projectors. Ian Hultquist: I would say Grizzly Bear. I love "Empire State of Mind" [by Jay-Z with Alicia Keys].

Donmoyer: [Thinking.] All of the Hard House Banton stuff, it's a UK funk-house producer - his EP Sirens, I've listened to it nonstop, because I play it every night when I DJ. That kind of sums up my year.

Rodriguez: When you look back at 2009, what were the musical highlights?

Donmoyer: The festival circuit. Sasquatch was probably our first proper festival and an introduction to a whole summer of new dates, especially in Europe playing the festival circuit. Meeting so many bands, learning from them and seeing so many people - a lot bigger crowds than in the clubs.

Rodriguez: Have you guys ever played to a big Gay crowd - maybe at a Gay club when you first started out?

Donmoyer: We played this club Heaven in London, which I heard is a Gay club. Hultquist: There's always a mix. There's always a good number of people from any sort of group at our shows.

Donmoyer: Our aftershows are usually at Gay bars or clubs, and I'm usually DJing. Hultquist: A large number of our aftershows are, actually.

Rodriguez: What's the last item you downloaded for your MP3 player? Hultquist: Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." It was stuck in my head and I didn't actually have it.

Donmoyer: The Washed Out CD [Life of Leisure]. I haven't listened to it, I just downloaded it.

Rodriguez: What happens when you guys run out of clean socks and underwear on the road? Hultquist: It depends on which member does. Uh & Jeff [Apruzzese, bassist] will recycle.

Donmoyer: [Laughs.] There's this bike messenger thing where they have to be dirty to be cool, and he was a bike messenger. So you can guess the underwear situation.

Rodriguez: Ever had a wardrobe malfunction?

Donmoyer: No, the only thing is the sweat. Sometimes you get sweat in the weirdest places, like crotch sweat. Luckily, that doesn't bother me because I'm behind the drums.

Rodriguez: What's next for Passion Pit?

Donmoyer: Um, touring. Hultquist: We're finishing up this run - we have two more shows after tonight - and then we're done until the New Year. We're going to Australia, playing [at the festival] "Big Day Out," then going to Japan for a week. We have a UK run in March, and we're putting together a US run in April.

Rodriguez: What do you remember most about the holidays as a kid?

Donmoyer: Getting together with family, seeing cousins from far away, parents forcing you to dress up.

Rodriguez: What do you plan to be doing at midnight on New Year's Eve? Hultquist: Ayad [Al Adhamy, synthesist] and Jeff are DJing in New York at Pianos, a small club that we played at a long time ago. So I'll be there with my girlfriend.

Donmoyer: I'll be at home in Maryland, probably asleep. I might ring it in when it strikes early in Melbourne or something, start drinking at like two in the afternoon.

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