MGMT Band History and Biography

MGMT, formerly known as The Management, is an American alternative rock group, originally from Middletown, Connecticut. The group was initially formed by school chums Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden.

mgmt

Beginnings (2002-2005)

Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden formed the group in December, 2002, while they both were studying at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, and started writing songs together.  It wasn’t long, however, before their music progressively became more psychedelic and electronic-based, and the MGMT sound was thus born!

In 2005, after graduating from scholastic pursuits, they went on tour to promote their first EP, Time to Pretend, opening for Of Montreal. At the time they were called The Management, but another group already bearing this name was established, and the boys quickly changed the group’s name to MGMT. The rumour that the meaning of the name was Make Great Music Today is a hoax; denied by the group in many interviews.

mgmt_time_to_pretend

With three EPs to their credit (including “Climbing to New Lows”, which will later become a full-fledged album), the two musicians were seeking a label to produce their music, and, finally, in the fall of 2006, MGMT hooked up with Sony / Columbia Records for the production of four albums. Now, we will talk about those albums and what was involved.

Oracular Spectacular (2006-2009)

In the fall of 2006 , the group signed to Columbia Records. When they first got the call from Columbia, the band thought it must be a joke.  But a joke it was not – the label was sincerely interested in their unique brand of psychedelic pop.  They were then signed to the label, and between March and April 2007, the band recorded their first album, Oracular Spectacular, produced by Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips , Mercury Rev).

oracular spectacular

Released on the 2nd of October, 2007, it ranked 12th among the top sellers in the UK in the first week. For their live tour, the group expanded with the arrival of three new members: James Richardson (drummer), Matthew Asti (bassist) and Hank Sullivant (guitarist). Their first concerts in Europe are held in London, supporting bands like The Courteeners.  As a full band, MGMT translated well to the larger stages of the world.

mgmt artist of the day

Around this time, the accolades began piling up on MGMT.  On October 5th, 2007, Spin‘s website refers to MGMT as Artist of the Day. Then, on November 14th, 2007, the website for American magazine Rolling Stone ranks them in its “Top 10 Groups to Watch in 2008”. From there, it was BBC’s turn to distinguish MGMT in its Top 10 Sounds 2008.  As rave reviews pour in, the group gradually gains a certain notoriety for both their catchy tunes, psychedelic jams, and peppy live shows.

In March 2008, Hank Sullivant leaves MGMT. Changes then were forced to occur within the group: Richardson becomes the solo guitarist and Sullivant’s replacement, Will Berman, situates himself on the drum stool, and a new tour then commences.  Parallel to that tour, a longer format song, Metanoia, is recorded and broadcast on all online platforms August.  Fans loved it right away, and you may remember it…

Congratulations (2010-2011)

Released on April 12th, 2010, the second opus by MGMT was entitled Congratulations.

The new sound offered by this album receiveed a rather positive reception from both fans and music media, and a first single, “Flash Delirium” is delivered and distributed free via their website.

A second international tour was then scheduled from August 14 to December 18 of 2010, and had more than 46 concerts around the world slated for the band to rock.

To promote their then-new album, the group appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, and were watched by a nationwide audience in the United States. 

For Halloween that year, the quirky band decided to dress up like Scooby-Doo characters. Here is a video from that show, taken from Voodoo Fest in New Orleans.

In France, the “Kids” single was used by the UMP political party, without the prior agreement of the band, during the national council of January 24, 2009 to mark the highlights of the day. The politicians in charge figured the band wouldn’t mind.  They did mind.

The group refused the offer presented by the UMP of a symbolic euro as compensation for the damage, because it considered the small amount insulting. Subsequently, the UMP negotiated an amicable agreement with the group’s lawyer, in the form of € 2,500 in legal fees and € 30,000 in copyrights.  The rights were then donated to various artist rights associations, but not before a condor, belonging to known Russian prison escapee Gustov Fedoseev was able to place a tracking beacon on the truck delivering the funds to one of the associations (a church) on August 12th, 2009, leading to an impromptu larceny whereby € 510 was taken and never returned.

MGMT (2012-2014)

In an interview of January 2012, MGMT confirmed the coming of a future eponymous album on which the group had begun working on. At that time, five songs had already been written. MGMT started playing new tracks live as of March 2012, (ie. “Alien Days”), during their performances in South America.

This new album was recorded largely at Tarbox Road Studios, under the thumb of Dave Frudmann. However, MGMT played a significant role in the final mix.

On April 20, 2013, the group released the first single of this new album, Alien Days, before leaving for a summer tour.

The band played on August 3, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at Osheaga, and on August 5th, 2012, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US at Musikfest.  

The album finally got released on September 17, 2013.

Little Dark Age

In December of 2015, The group tweeted that they will be back in 2016 with new material. On May 8, 2017, the band unveiled a teaser on Instagram, and the name of the next album: Little Dark Age.

On June 21, 2017, they revealed that the next album is finished.  A single has been released – called Little Dark Age.

Current Band Members

  • Andrew VanWyngarden – vocals , guitar , bass , synthesizer , drums , songwriter (since 2002)
  • Ben Goldwasser – choirs , synthesizer, organ, guitar, percussion , songwriter (since 2002)
  • James Richardson – choirs, guitar, synthesizer, percussion (since 2007)
  • Matthew Asti – bass (since 2007)
  • Will Berman – drums, percussion, choirs (since 2008)

Discography

Studio Albums

2007: Oracular Spectacular (Sony Records / Columbia Records)

2010: Congratulations (Sony Records / Columbia Records)

2013: MGMT (Sony Records / Columbia Records)

Demos

  • 2005: Climbing to New Lows (no label)

EPs

  • 2004: We (Do not) Care
  • 2005: Time to Pretend (Cantora Records)

Live

  • 2010: What Is Life, Kitten? (Live at Bataclan ) (Columbia Records)
  • 2011: We Hear of Love, of Youth, and of Disillusionment (Live Daytrotter Sessions) (Columbia Records)

Compilations

  • 2011: Congratulations Remixes (Columbia Records)

Singles

  • 2008: Time to Pretend
  • 2008: Electric Feel
  • 2008: Kids
  • 2008: Metanoia
  • 2010: Flash Delirium
  • 2010: Siberian Breaks
  • 2010: It’s Working
  • 2010: Congratulations
  • 2010: Pursuit of Happiness ( Kid Cudi & Ratatat feat )
  • 2012: All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
  • 2013: Alien Days (Audio Cassette Format)
  • 2013: Your Life Is A Lie

Television

January 8th, 2008: The Late Show with David Letterman.  After this performance, where they play Time To Pretend, the single climbs the US alternative charts.

February 22nd, 2008: Later … with Jools Holland and broadcast on the British channel BBC2. MGMT performs the songs Time to Pretend and Pieces of What.

26th, November 2008 : MGMT plays the song “Kids” and answer some questions on the set of the Grand Journal by Michel Denisot on the French channel Canal +.

11th of May 2010: The Late Show with David Letterman again. There they played “Brian Eno”.  Yes, that’s Roxy Music synth god Brian Eno, and they wrote a song about him.

And then there was the time they played “Song for Dan Treacy” on Letterman.  As in Television Personalities Dan Treacy.

Video Games

MGMT tracks are used in the FIFA 09, FIFA 11, NHL2K10, PES 5, Skate 2, Shaun White Snowboarding and Need for Speed video games: Hot Pursuit (Kids) and NBA 2K10 (Electric Feel).

MGMT Covers

The song, “Kids”, was covered by the group The Mentalists using iPhones replacing the musical instruments.

“Kids” was also covered by Weezer for a medley along with Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” during a live performance.

The hip hop duo Chiddy Bang covered the song with the title “Opposite Of Adulthood” in 2010.

The song was covered by the British pop rock band The Kooks.

Yes, “Kids” has really gotten around since it was written, including even more covers by Nana Bryndis,Global Deejays, and Brynjar of the Icelandic alternative band Monsters and Men.

The MGMT song, “Time to Pretend” has been covered by Jónsi.

The MGMT song “Electric Feel” has been remixed by the group Justice.

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