Just a few years ago, the Brooklyn-based outfit blew up the pop-psych-rock scene with their monster hit “Kids,” a relentlessly catchy, synth-heavy tune that would go on to be nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocals at the 52nd Grammy Awards in January.
But it wasn’t just American audiences that saw a hit in “Kids;” it also caught the ear of notable international listeners, specifically French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Last year, the band sued Sarkozy, claiming that he and his UMP party were using the song in online videos without permission.
The UMP admitted their wrongdoing, but maintained that it was unintentional (they had paid the initial standard €53 fee to the SACEM, a French association in charge of collecting and distributing payments for various artists’ rights, yet did not pay for repeated use of the song). They subsequently offered the band €1 as compensation. Yep, you read that right. One whole Euro. Isabelle Wekstein, the band’s French lawyer, would go on to call the offer “insulting” and “disrespectful of the rights of artists and authors.” Eventually, the suit was settled for just under $40,000 USD.
“We did not want to be ‘typical Americans’ and sue, despite the amazing monetary benefit and chinchilla coats and Navigators it would bring,” said the band in a statement on their website shortly after the settlement was reached. “Instead we are using the settlement fee the UMP presented and donating it to artists’ rights organizations.”
With their international legal issues behind them, the Brooklynites were free to work on what would come to be known as Congratulations, a sophomore outing that was well-received by critics, despite the band’s insistence on not releasing any singles (a la “Kids”) in order to promote the album.
“We’d rather people hear the whole album as an album and see what tracks jump out rather than the ones that get played on the radio—if anything gets played on the radio!” says Ben Goldwasser in a January interview with NME. “We’ve been talking about ways to make sure people hear the album as an album in order and not just figure out what are the best three tracks, download those and not listen to the rest of it.”
Being a band that has quite frankly blown the hell up in under half a decade, MGMT appears to have reached a level where they can afford luxuries like foregoing singles altogether, or streaming Congratulations in its entirety back in March after it predictably leaked (“We wanted to offer it as a free download, but that didn’t make sense to anyone but us,” the band would later say on their website, echoing similar tactics by their peers in Radiohead, who released 2008’s In Rainbows at a “pay-what-you-want” price.)
Having become virtual Coachella staples, not to mention headlining New Jersey’s version of the 2010 Bamboozle along with fellow hipster-faves Weezer, the pop-rockers in MGMT show absolutely no signs of putting the brakes on anytime soon—this weekend’s stop in Pomona will give IE fans a chance to see the duo in the flesh.
If their recent surge of newly-found megastardom is any indication, well . . . congratulations may just well be in order.
MGMT w/Francis, Helios Creed at the Fox Theater, 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona; www.foxpomona.com. Sun, July 18. Doors open at 8PM, $32.50 general admission, $47.50 VIP. All ages.