The Chainsmokers ascend in Vegas as EDM crusaders

The Chart-Topping Duo The Chainsmokers Headline at XS Nightclub inside Wynn Las Vegas_Photo Cre ...

Sitting across from The Chainsmokers is experiencing a billboard come to life.

Or finally seeing those faces so often obscured by strobes and party cannons.

Drew Taggart and Alex Pall, the XS Nightclub and Encore Beach Club resident headlining duo, seem as comfortable inside an Encore resort suite as they do inside the DJ booth. They have a chance to be heard, verbally, as they recount their latest album, “So Far So Good, and their ascent to chart success. The Chainsmokers remain one of Vegas’ best-known superstar acts. Wynn Nightlife exec Ryan Jones says they are not going anywhere anytime soon. “We really do look at them as our partners, and they will be here for the foreseeable future. We look at each other as business partners, and they are here to put on a great show for us and for our fans.”

Johnny Kats: First, I have to ask about your schedule, how hard you guys run. How are you able to keep yourselves fresh mentally, physically, artistically? You always play hard and into the early morning.

Alex Pall: We’re getting asked that a lot recently. It’s a tricky question because I’m not sure if we have exactly figured it out. I think we’re lucky that we love what we do, and I think that makes any hardship we face relatively easier to overcome. You know, we both have worked pretty (lousy) jobs in the past, and we’ve kind of taken this, you know, opportunity for granted. The people on our team are some of our best friends, and working at places like the Wynn that takes good care of you makes it easier.

What’s a lousy job? Any examples?

Pall: I was a receptionist at an art gallery before this. I don’t know if that makes it a lousy job, but it wasn’t, like, an exciting thing to come to work every morning, for sure.

No party cannons?

Pall: Yeah, yeah (laughs). No party cannons. It was a gallery, in New York. I mean, Drew worked at a hot dog stand, and I was a landscaper.

How about a first visit to Vegas, either in tandem or separately?

Drew Taggart: I think the first time I ever came here was in college. I went to school for music business at Syracuse and we came here for some Billboard conference. We used to go on a lot of field trips for that, but I wasn’t 21 so I couldn’t drink or gamble. Little did I know I would be here every weekend for the rest of my life (laughs). But before we started, I feel like Alex came a few times.

Pall: I came here on kind of a team tour camping trip. We stayed at the Excalibur. I didn’t have any concept of the place, and it was crazy, this giant castle. Now that I’ve stayed here, I can say, it’s not the best (laughs), but it’s also one of the first things you see when you land. It’s MGM and Excalibur, and you’re just like, “Oh (expletive), this place is going to be every Vegas cliche.”

The team that runs nightlife here says you fit the property’s brand and marketing. What does that mean, exactly, to be on brand in a Vegas resort?

Taggart: I think, specifically, it’s about our show, which has been really great here. I think our sets are a little different than other DJ sets. I’m up there singing. I’m jumping in the crowd. I’m interacting with people. A big part of The Chainsmokers is about inclusivity, making people feel acknowledged and welcome. I feel like that’s something that this hotel has done really well, and we’re really grateful that they’ve kind of let us put this different type of show on and be able to do as much as we have.

What was the inspiration behind the title “So Far So Good”?

Pall: I actually have it tattooed on me. But I’ve had it tattooed on me for like 12 years.

What was the inspiration for the tattoo, then?

Pall: There’s this great French film noir, from the ’90s (“La Haine”), and the opening scene is a guy who leaps off the top of a building. As he passes each floor, he says to himself, “So far, so good,” until he hits the ground, then says, “It’s not how you fall; it’s how you land.” And we just love that sense of optimism, but also the reality of the situation, because we’re all gonna die someday. You might as well enjoy the ride while you’re on it.

I have always felt, at least in Las Vegas musicians, a lot of skepticism from rock musicians, classical musicians, all types of musicians, about EDM. Do you feel that, as performers?

Pall: Well, we haven’t done any favors for ourselves, in general, as a genre.

Are you interested in trying to change people’s minds about what you do?

Taggart: I think if we were trying to correct anyone’s opinions, we’d have a really bad time. The big thing about dance music is the arena that it lives in. It’s often these massive festivals and parties, and drugs and drinking and kind of letting go, which is what most people on planet Earth indulge in. Maybe not the drugs (laughs), but rock ’n’ roll is no different. That’s what’s so exciting about rock ’n’ roll and EDM, they both pushed the sound of music to a place that it had never been before.

You had inspirations in EDM in the same way a music fan would get into a rock ’n’ roll artist?

Taggart: I remember hearing in the beginning David Guetta, Daft Punk and Deadmau5 and being like, “What are these sounds? How did they make them?” I spent years just studying how, just sonically, how they accomplish that. … Let’s face it, you have to kind of be a nerd to make this stuff. A lot of us think the whole DJ scene really gets along because we’re just a bunch of nerds. But we love DJing and being in an arena where people are having a great time.

Pall: I understand the perception of what we do. You spend the same effort going in to making the songs, but then the performance of it — if you’re an amazing guitar player and you’re watching some DJ in front of 40,000 people, you know, press buttons up there, you don’t really understand the disconnect. But there is a creation to it and an energy that’s infectious.

I think a lot of this perception is because what you generate is beyond what many musicians, at least who play in Las Vegas, will ever see. A world-class cellist, for example, is never going to play a residency for the type of crowds you draw at these clubs.

Pall: I wish they could. I mean it. There are amazing musicians everywhere. We’re always working on music. It’s what we love to do. We’re excited to start the process of figuring out what’s next.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.