MGMT Started as a Joke in College as Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden Mocked Rock Stars

An indie rock band that has defied the odds in more ways than one, MGMT was founded in 2002. Created by two instrumentalists, the group gained early notoriety for their songs spoofing the rock star lifestyle and music business.

Paving their own way in the industry, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden might’ve started their band as a way to joke about the industry. But these days, they are still going strong — although their lifestyles have changed a great deal from those early days as indie rock darlings. 

When did Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden start MGMT?

MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser are photographed in a studio
Andrew VanWyngarden (L) and Benjamin Goldwasser of MGMT | Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

Goldwasser and VanWyngarden grew close as students attending Wesleyan University, reports AllMusic. The two discovered they enjoyed the same type of music. Over the next several years, they worked on a sound that combined rock noise and electronica. In 2002, they officially formed the band that would become known as MGMT.

Goldwasser and VanWyngarden wrote new music even as they studied. After they graduated from Wesleyan University in 2005, they started touring extensively to support their EP Time to Pretend. Oddly enough, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden never intended their group to be a “serious” rock band. Rather, they found that they loved toying with the idea of what a rock star should be.

“That was the whole shtick of the band when we started,” Goldwasser told The Guardian, referencing some of the lyrics on Time to Pretend that read, “Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.” He continued, “That we’d be playing in someone’s living room, wearing fur coats and drinking champagne in front of, like, 15 people.” 

MGMT is known for songs like ‘Kids’

Goldwasser and VanWyngarden might not have expected it, but MGMT became a sensation. They released a debut album in 2007, expanded their studio band not long after, and buckled down to write music almost continuously for the next few years. Publications like Rolling Stone noted that MGMT was a band to watch. Their song “Kids” became a pop-punk anthem with fans of all ages.

However, as the band grew in popularity, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden discovered that life at the top isn’t so bad. The pair stopped releasing music continuously. In 2015, they took a break from the grind in order to focus on their own interests. Then, they reunited in 2019. 

MGMT is now a part of the rock scene it originally mocked

MGMT began releasing music under their new independent label in 2019. But the band fans fell in love with has changed a great deal over the years. The Guardian notes that Goldwasser and VanWyngarden have a strained relationship with each other. VanWyngarden admitted, “We’ve gone through different phases of hanging out and being, like, normal friends, and that’s not easy these days because Ben lives in LA.”

With the two founding members of MGMT living in different times zones and even resorting to writing songs via email, as The Guardian reports, it’s safe to say that the comradeship might not be what it once was. Additionally, both VanWyngarden and Goldwasser are now wealthy men.

VanWyngarden’s net worth is around $14 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth; Goldwasser’s own net worth sits at around $12 million, reports Idol Net Worth. VanWyngarden once joked in his songs about finding models to marry. These days, he’s known for his relationships with several high-profile models, including Camille Rowe.

While MGMT might not be the same band they were in their heyday, diehard fans still love and support the duo through their ups and downs.

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