Though Pendulum is accustomed to performing in front of arena and festival crowds in Europe and Australia — and has done two sellout club and theater tours in the United States — the band's direct support slot on Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns world tour puts the electronica act in front of its largest stateside crowds to date. Combining live rock instrumentation with jungle, drum & bass, dubstep and electro house beats, Pendulum is known for putting on live shows as visually stimulating as they are aurally pleasing. As the band’s tour with Linkin Park and Does It Offend You, Yeah? comes to Philips Arena (in support of its own recent release Immersion), front man Rob Swire talks about graduating from local clubs to playing larger venues, translating studio-driven music to the stage and how U.S. audiences compare to those in other parts of the world.
Your first show in Atlanta was in 2008 at the Loft, then you came back in 2009 for a show at the somewhat larger Center Stage. This time you’re playing Philips Arena with Linkin Park.
Yeah, that’s quite a step up. I’m not quite sure yet how that’s going to go, but I think good things are going to happen on this tour.
You guys are used to headlining arenas and festivals in Europe, but you’ve had a pretty rapid ascent in the U.S. as well. How would you say your popularity here compares to your success elsewhere?
In American, it’s always felt like a work in progress to some extent. It requires a lot more work and effort given the size of country. The U.K. and Australia are much smaller countries. But we come out and we learn something each time we tour the U.S. Only a handful of electronic bands have actually sort of made it in the States. Hopefully we learn something new this time around.
How would you say the actual crowd reaction in America compares to the bigger audiences elsewhere?
I think they react quite similarly in America to the way people reacted to punk shows in the past. There’s a lot more energy than when we play in Scotland or Australia. It’s surprisingly rowdy. The first time we came to the States we thought the audiences might be a lot calmer than what we were used to. But we’ve played to some much rowdier crowds here.
You have more of a rock vibe than most electronica acts, and it helps that you’re an actual band and not just a DJ duo or something. How do you translate what you do in the studio to the stage?
I think the first step is to always break down the elements and think about which elements are actually going to be playable by humans. Occasionally synth lines or whatever end up being unplayable and you have to sort of figure out how to translate that to the stage. But we try to keep everything live. We don’t like relying on backing tracks and feel like any electronic band that’s still relying on backing tracks is just lazy. We use some of that, but it’s way in the background and if any one of the members of the band stops playing, you’ll hear a massive cutout. And if we all stopped playing, there’d be very little left. We try and keep it as live as possible.
You’re known for putting on over-the-top, energetic shows. How are you adapting your stage show to go from clubs and theaters to arenas on this tour?
We’re going to have a completely different show for this tour. Supporting Linkin Park, we’ve only got about half an hour, so we’ve got to keep the set moving and pack as much as we possibly can into half an hour. With our own shows, we have more license to do and play whatever we want.
Linkin Park seems to sort of be transcending the nu metal/rap rock genre with its latest album and, in turn, was a little more adventurous in choosing opening acts like Pendulum and Does It Offend You, Yeah?. Do you know why they chose decidedly electronica acts for this tour?
With this last album, they’ve just basically done whatever they wanted. I think they probably went with that same mindset when choosing the opening bands. I think they’ve been fans of these opening bands for quite a while, but just haven’t, before now, had the opportunity to tour with them.
Have you done any remixes or other collaborations with Linkin Park?
We do some live remixes of theirs from time to time and we did a cover of one of their tracks [“The Catalyst”] on the Radio 1 Live Lounge last year. But we haven’t done anything else in the past.
Have you talked about doing any sort of live collaborations during this tour?
We haven’t actually talked to them about anything, but a lot of the time once you get on tour with guys you end up talking about all sorts of stuff and working from there. So I’m sure something will be in the works by the end of the tour.
Pendulum with Linkin Park and Does It Offend You, Yeah?. $38.50-$84.20. 7 p.m. Jan. 23. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive. 404-878-3800. www.philipsarena.com.
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