The Chainsmokers may have more people coming to their Sunday Atlantic City beach concert than previously expected. After Thursday's headliner Demi Lovato canceled because of an apparent overdose, Live Nation offered Lovato fans two choices: a refund, or entry to see the EDM DJ duo.
On the surface, the Chainsmokers are gloriously hedonistic types. Their merry, pulsing music is filled with frat-boy antics, booze, and sex with egomaniacal titles such as their 2014 breakout hit "#Selfie."
But perhaps that hedonism is really just a reflection of what the duo see around them. Take "#Selfie": In the clubs where they spun or the streets where they hung, all they saw were kids shooting photos of themselves. With the tartly direct hit, the Chainsmokers' Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart became keen observers of temporal, photographic self-examination, with lines such as "Can you guys help me pick a filter half? / I don't know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia / I wanna look tan/ What should my caption be? / I want it to be clever."
Simple, yes, but effective.
"That's certainly true of so many of our songs, although I do believe that there is something more to us now, something coming, something new," says Pall. He's referencing the poignant, recently released "Somebody," about money's inability to buy happiness.
Have The Chainsmokers happened on to the start of the new EDM — emotional dance music?
Born into NYC's Chelsea art and music scene in 2012, the pair made tracks with outside vocalists before becoming a self-contained unit by 2013. They truly realized they were onto something fierce when they began to play live shows, starting at Manhattan's Terminal 5. "Seeing and feeling an actual physical reaction to the music we were making definitely gave us a sign we were onto something," says Taggart.
"What we do is very physical," says Pall. "Having everyone know every word to every song helps that physicality — draws us together as a small community. Being closer to our audiences works for us. It is a more intimate process now than when we started as well."
The complex electro-pop of 2015's "Roses" helped to define their signature sound — "Not until that song did we own an aesthetic," says Pall — and its incumbent successes. But The Chainsmokers' pair are hoping to buck their own expectations, as well as those of their audiences with their upcoming album.
"We're always looking for something fresh, whether live or in the studio," says Pall. "But, now more than ever, we have to show off how we have developed. We know what sounds fun to us, musically, and that we have that formula down cold. I believe, though, that it is in the lyrics where we're progressing, and showing off the most emotion and depth."
New songs from The Chainsmokers, such as "Somebody" and "Everybody Hates," explore less-than-cheery themes such as unrequited love, boorish behavior with real consequences, and everlasting loneliness.
"Being introspective and expressing that in songs, along with this new quest for depth and meaning in our lyrics — the pieces of our lives that we believe are impactful for others — is where The Chainsmokers is going in 2018," says Pall. "It all happened so fast and so organically for us, this desire. Luckily everyone is on our side, from fans to the label. I can't put my finger on what we're feeling and how we can put that in words, but we just know that when we get into the studio that we can make it happen and have those emotions flow."