Passion Pit boasts strong commercial appeal 

Some indie artists are extremely protective of their esoteric work, refusing to license even a smidgen of a song to anything remotely corporate.

That’s not the case with Michael Angelakos.

The quirky synthpop ditties the keyboardist pens for his Cambridge combo Passion Pit — such as “The Reeling” and “Little Secrets,” from the band’s surprise-smash debut “Manners” — are unusually addictive.

He wants as many people as possible to catch his earworm bug, and he’ll use whatever unconventional method he can to accomplish this.

Angelakos, 23, doesn’t care if hipsters snub him as a sellout. He has provided the music of Passion Pit — playing the Bay Area on Monday — to TV shows such as “Big Love,” “Ugly Betty” and “Gossip Girl.”

Tracks have also popped up in ads for gaming systems such as PSP and PlayStation 3, as well as Britain’s 02 Money cash card.

Palm Pixi featured “The Reeling” in its recent campaign, and “Little Secrets” is even played as the run-out music for L.A. Angels pitcher Dan Haren.

The singer’s crowning achievement? A brand-new song he wrote specifically for an American Express ZYNC Card commercial.

For Angelakos, the equation is quite simple. “People always ask me ‘Why are you doing these commercials? Especially for credit cards?’” he says. “But who cares? American Express isn’t some bank that’s going to do anything crazy to you — you go into it knowing that you have to pay the balance off each month, so I had no problem with it. And secondly, it gave me a great opportunity to go into the studio and record a Passion Pit song.”

The composer — who takes sole songwriting credit in his band — started scoring films back in college.

He always loved a good jingle, too, so he compulsively weaves hooks into all his electronic tapestries. He was particularly pleased with his Palm Pixi assignment.

“Our music matched these beautiful visuals really well. It was like a little music video that played between commercials,” he says.

The upshot: “Then people asked what song it was, we got tons of downloads, and everyone was really interested in Passion Pit all of a sudden. And we got paid for it! That’s the part that was really nice.”

Is advertisement and/or TV soundtrack placement the new radio? Angelakos has no other explanation for why “Manners” is selling so well without tangible airplay. So where’s the harm in hawking your wares? he wonders: “These companies are reaching out to younger artists who make interesting music for a living. So it’s a win/win situation — great money and people actually hear you!”


IF YOU GO

Passion Pit

Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $35

Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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