Sports

The Chainsmokers Tell Us Why Having The Super Bowl In LA Is So Special

The Chainsmokers are no stranger to big events. Between Super Bowl events, shows at major golf tournaments, a long-standing Vegas residency, and a presence just about anywhere parties are found, they know their role and play it willingly with an energy that’s never lacking. They know not everyone is there to see them when there is so much going on. But they also know this might be a chance to give someone a good time they weren’t expecting if given the chance.

Alex Pall and Drew Taggart took most of the last two years off from recording following World War Joy, the album they dropped at the end of 2019. They went dark on social media. There was backlash to the July 2020 outdoor show in New York that prompted an investigation. They tried their hands at collecting, both digitally and tangibly (including dabbling, yes, in Fabergé eggs). All of this allowed the group to enter what they’re calling a creative high when they recorded new music in Hawaii late in 2021. And they’re excited to share that energy — along with their latest track, “High” — with the crowds coming into Los Angeles for the Super Bowl.

The duo are playing TikTok’s Tailgate Party and are serving up Palomas from the tequila brand JAJA they helped launch at the MaximBet Music at the Market Party. They’ve already been along for the ride with the Rams, having performed at the NFC Championship game, but they’re not counting out Joe Burrow and the Bengals, who continue their storybook season a win away from a title.

Taggart talked to Uproxx about Super Bowl week, the high of making new music, the chance to convert new Chainsmokers fans, and more.

Martin Rickman: You guys have had an opportunity to do a lot of big events like this around sports. I mean even the NFC championship was something that you all were a part of. How important is it to kind of have your foot in the sports landscape and to be a part of major kind of cultural events like this?

Drew Taggart: I mean, it’s been amazing. We’ve been fortunate enough to play at multiple Super Bowl surrounding, like, weekend events for the past, probably six years, which has been super fun. Any big sporting event, whether it’s the Super Bowl, or we’ve done stuff with the PGA or we’ve done F1, it’s just fun when everyone’s there together to have a good time and in a not a typical location, and the vibe’s always great. Everyone’s just super hyped up for the game, whether they’re die-hard fans or not. There’s just always really good energy. So we’re fortunate that we get to be a part of that scenario.

What’s your sports background personally? Do you have rooting interests just generally or is it just one of those things you try to have a good time?

I mean, I’m way too skinny to play football. So I had to stick to soccer growing up, which was my full-time passion. That’s one thing, I would love to do the World Cup and the Champions League. So if any of those people are going to read this interview, we’re down.

But yeah. I mean, this is going to be really exciting. We’ve got the LA team and the Super Bowl in LA, which is super fun. Playing the NFC championship was an absolute blast. The energy in SoFi stadium is unparalleled. And so it’ll be really exciting, and I think this is kind of a win-win Super Bowl. I think everyone’s really excited for the Bengals and Joe Burrow might be the most popular man in America right now. And so I know everyone’s kind of rooting for that from the underdog side. And then you have us as Rams fans in LA, the great team this year and they’re playing at home. It’s just going to be a pretty uniquely fun onsite Super Bowl.

What’s your approach to parties like the ones that you guys play during Super Bowl weekend, where you have an opportunity to take some fans who are diehards, but you’ve also got some people, maybe it’s the first time they’ve ever been exposed to a Chainsmokers performance. How do you tow that line between fan service, but also just making sure everybody has a good time?

I think what you just said now hit that on the head. I mean, we play in Vegas, we’ve been playing at the Wynn at XS for the past five years. And I mean, we’re doing 50 shows a year and we always have a good assortment of fans at every show, but you got to realize that everyone’s there for their own specific reason — they’re there for a bachelor party, or a birthday weekend, or they’ve never been to Vegas before. And they might know some of our music, but they might not be a diehard fan. So we have a lot of experience playing to those rooms. And I think the most important thing is just to remember that everyone’s there to have a good time. And you do your thing as an artist, but there’s a lot of fun tricks that we’ve kind of picked up from doing 200 shows a year from the past decade that like, we know how to make it fun for everyone, even if you’re not a full Chainsmokers fan.

You mentioned the grind that is performing so often, so consistently, and that’s something in live music that had been lost in the pandemic and is now brought back. Things have happened slowly to get back to it. But when you look back on your rise as a group, how have you guys learned from that experience? And what are some of the things that looking back, it’s just kind of funny thinking about the smaller rooms that you were playing to now having events like this, where consistently you’re able to kind of go full throttle like this?

I don’t think the size of the room ever matters. And you can never really predict what a show’s going to be like until you’re there at it because it all comes down to the audience and how people are feeling in the room. And once you’re on stage, I mean, you hope you develop the skills over time to know how to pull out the best energy from that crowd, no matter what the vibe is, but in addition to doing the Super Bowl Tailgate, I mean, we’re doing the Maxim party, we’re doing the TAO party, we’ll be around.

There’s going to be a lot of different type of things with a bunch of different types of people in the room. And you always see it as a challenge to get up there and be like, how do I make this next set the most exciting part of the night? Even when you’re on stage and you’re performing, Alex and I always feel like hosts, how do we pull people into our world? How do we kind of break the third wall from the stage to the audience and make people feel like they’re performing as well?

Who did that for you growing up and got you hooked on the scene?

In dance music?

Yeah.

I mean, I grew up in Maine and so the dance world was something I discovered when I was a teenager, that just seemed so foreign to anything I had ever seen growing up. I played dance my entire life, but the first DJs I listened to were Deadmau5 and Trentemøller and Daft Punk. And watching the rise of Avicii and having the whole sound change. And I would just sit on YouTube and watch iPhone rips of them performing, wherever they were being booked and watch that kind of emerge in the States. And that was something that looked like the most fun thing I could ever imagine. And I’m very grateful that here we are, 10 years later that we get to be a part of that scene.

When you guys look back at kind of the last couple years, and then being able to release new music again and create this continued evolution of the Chainsmokers and the sound that you guys have, how proud are you of the latest stuff that you guys have done – “High” specifically – and what is next?

We finished our album, our fourth album. “High” is the first single on it that we’re super excited for. It was a really fun first one to put out. There’s a lot more depth on this album that I can’t wait for our fans to hear and surrounding people, but yeah. It is a little weird. We’ve been silent on social media. We haven’t put out any content, music’s changed so much, social media’s changed so much since 2019 when we were last active, but it’s fun to experiment. And I feel like everything these days is so less precious.

You can kind of leak some of your songs on the internet before they come out. You have an idea, a discussion about your stuff before it’s officially released with your fans, which is very new. And we’re still kind of getting acclimated to that. But so far it’s so fun. And I think as people that we were creating music all the time to be able to have an open dialogue and not just hold on to things that only we and our friends can hear until they are out in the world is a really exciting new landscape to come back to.

What were you inspired by in creating the new album? Was there anything kind of surprising that you drew from?

We started making this album in Hawaii and we went to Hawaii with a lot of our music-making friends, brought a bunch of gear down. We kind of gave ourselves permission to not make anything if it didn’t come out. We really relaxed and kind of deescalated the vibe that we had just put out an album, we’re on an arena tour right before that. And really just listened to so much music that we loved growing up, like Daft Punk and The Postal Service and stuff that really struck a chord with us. I mean, Daft Punk isn’t really an example of this, but some of the other bands, we didn’t feel like that sound had been heard in a while and we wanted to kind of reimagine it, and infuse everything together. And I feel like this album is very genreless, and it’s going to be really fun to have everybody hear stuff that still feels like Chainsmokers, but pulls in a lot of other things that we’ve loved over the years.

Speaking to pulling from all over the place, you guys have really had this experience of collecting lately, whether it’s through NFT stuff or any of the other things that you have gathered. Do you have that spirit of collecting in your DNA and what are some of the things that you just realized that you’re obsessed with, because you’ve got more time and access obviously to start grabbing that stuff?

Yeah. Alex and I started a venture capital fund called Mantis in the beginning of 2020, right before the pandemic. And that’s given us so much exposure to so many amazing new companies that are being built and in the kind of the focus. We’re on our second fund now, and we’re looking at Web3. It’s everywhere. NFTs are everywhere. We don’t traditionally do that out of our fund, but we’ve learned about that space. And the people that are building the infrastructure around it have been really inspiring to learn from and be a part of. And there’s a lot of opportunity there. I think the world’s still figuring out what it is and it really is a smaller population in the space than it seems via all the memes on social media about NFTs. But I think there’s a really promising future ahead of us in that space. And it’s exciting to be able to participate in some ways.

And then along those same lines, you have an opportunity to partner and be a part of things like JAJA Tequila, and other brands. When you look at projects like that, what is interesting about something like that?

It’s hyper-competitive but Alex and I always say whether it’s the VC fund, or our TV and film production company [Kick The Habit], or JAJA Tequila, we don’t do things that don’t feel like an inherent extension of who we are. I think that’s made them feel really organic and JAJA especially, we’ve been working on that project for so many years now. We’re so happy where it’s at right now. That’s a brand that embodies the fun nature that we were talking about earlier, about whatever scenario you get into, let’s make it as fun as it possibly can be. And we wanted to create a brand around that vibe and just an awesome tasting, tequila that we can drink every night with friends.

And then finally I got to ask just to finish it, what’s your Super Bowl prediction? What do you think is going to happen?

This is a dangerous question.

I know. I’m sorry.

I automatically piss off 50 percent of the people there. But they’re both great teams. I think the energy of the Rams being at home and that stadium is going to really play in their favor. I’ve been really impressed watching them. I’ll admit it, I’m not the biggest football fan. I’m definitely fair weather when it comes to the end of the season. But I know I love being a part of it. I love being part of the events and I’ve been really impressed watching [the Rams] and I think they can persevere in the Super Bowl.

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