When Passion Pit‘s Michael Angelakos learned that his label chose “Take a Walk” as the first single from his band’s upcoming Gossamer album — the follow-up to their breakout debut, Manners — he was understandably nervous. Though not for the reasons you might expect.
“It was really odd when they said it was going to be the first single, I was like ‘I don’t know if anyone’s going to get it,’” he told MTV News on Wednesday (May 9). “And then I thought everyone was going to think I was being really political, and I don’t think it is political, it’s more about family to me. I really don’t consider myself a very political person; I really don’t like political songs, frankly.”
It’s not difficult to see why he was concerned. After all, with its mentions of disappearing pension funds, overdrawn accounts and “socialists and all their damn taxes,” “Take A Walk” seems very much to be a political anthem — one that could only have been written post financial crisis. And, since it premiered earlier this week, most have viewed it as such. But, as Angelakos said, the song is really about his family; each verse is about a member of his family at one point in their lives — from an immigrant selling flowers outside Penn Station to a well-heeled (though financially strapped) member of society. And, in a way, the song is also about him.
“It’s about very specific family members, the male hierarchy, and how the men in my family have always dealt with money. I’ve always been really fond of a lot of my family members and not so fond of others,” he laughed. “All these men were very conservative; socially very liberal but for some reason, they all came here for capitalism, and they all ended up kind of being prey to capitalism. And I’m not making any political statements or anything, but it’s ironic and it’s sad.
“So when people started talking about it as an ‘immigrant song’ or whatever, I was like, ‘OK’ … I didn’t want to make it into a greater political issue, especially considering the timeliness of it. I didn’t want people to read it the wrong way,” he continued. “I was more or less interested in analyzing my own family, and that was my way of talking about myself, because I’m a product of these men; I’m their blood. And that was a new way for me to express something.”
And that new way of expression also helps shape Gossamer (due July 24), which sees Angelakos coming to terms with the failings in his own life … for reasons he’s not entirely sure of (“I don’t know why I felt the need to write so much non-fiction,” he laughed). And it’s why, for the first time, he says he’s endlessly proud of the finished product. And not overly concerned with whether it manages to match the commercial success of Manners. To him, Gossamer goes much deeper than any of that.
“This record was a struggle, that’s for sure. At the time of making it, [I was in] a relationship that just felt like, ‘Things are perfect, things are falling apart,’ and it was mostly of my doing, because it was such a hard process making this record,” he said. “Everything on the record’s true, everything happened to me, I’m the one that made the mess and everyone else had to clean up around me. And the guilt and the pain that I felt throughout the record is definitely evident.
“It’s about the ways of dealing with pain and anxiety. Social issues are dealt with today in a variety of ways, of which I don’t need to indulge in for you to understand; and I kind of gave in to those things, and I just lost control at a certain point,” he continued. “And it was about regaining control. Once I did, that’s when I finished the record. You can’t make a record when you were in a terrible place, and most of the time, I wasn’t finishing a record, I was treading water, and finally at a certain point, everything kind of clicked, and I saw what was happening. It involved being very open and honest, but that was my therapy in a way. I’m really proud of it.”
What do you think of “Take a Walk”? Leave your comments below!