Why the Chainsmokers Disappeared, ‘We Were Becoming People’s Dirty Little Secret’

During the 2010’s, The Chainsmokers found music industry sucess with songs like “Closer” and “Selfie.” In preparation for their first new music release in the 2020’s, the duo embarked on a different creative path, taking the lessons learned from their first go-around into the next chapter. 

The Chainsmokers, who disappeared to make a new album, pose on the red carpet of the MaximBet Music event in LA.
Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers | David Livingston/Getty Images

The Chainsmokers pressed pause in order to create new music

The EDM duo of Drew Taggert and Alex Pall, better known as The Chainsmokers, started making music when they got out of college. Within a few years, they spent 12 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the massive hit, “Closer.” 

From 2014 to 2019, The Chainsmokers played 180 tour stops a year. At the end of their tour in 2019, they sat down with their manager. In an interview with Billboard, Adam Alpert said, “They said to me, ‘We just want to go away and make stuff and not have to worry about deadlines, or if it’s a pop song or a dance song.”

The duo told him, “We just want to do something with no rules, no pressure, no preconceived notions, and if it takes us a year, fine.’”

It took more than a year; The Chainsmokers disappeared. A few weeks in Hawaii with daily surf lessons proved transformative for Taggert and Paul. They continued to record in New York, Joshua Tree, and London, taking all the time needed to perfect each song.

What to know about The Chainsmokers’ new album

Set for release on Friday, May 13, So Far So Good will sound different than the Chainsmokers’ older material. Instead of recruiting A-list singers like Halsey, Taggert will sing all the songs. 

The group’s manager is hoping the new direction attracts other fans. “New people that don’t like ‘Closer’ or ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ are going to hear these songs and say, ‘This I can get down with’ — especially in the subgenres of the dance music community.” 

He added, “To me, these songs sound like they took two years to make.” Billboard reports, “the album demonstrates a new level of technical proficiency and artistic verve in terms of The Chainsmokers’ capabilities as music-makers.”

The Chainsmokers know that people hate them

Although commercially successful, somewhere along the line, it became cool to hate The Chainsmokers. A 2016 Billboard article painted them as bro-dudes taking tequila shots and saying things like “we rage every night.”

“I remember reading that and thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is what people are going to think of us,’ and ‘Do we come off this way? I don’t want to be this person, you know?’ ” says Taggart. “That was the biggest thing. The guys we read about there, I was like, ‘I don’t like these guys.’ ” 

They tried to rebrand their image, but the public can be unforgiving. 

The Chainsmokers’ manager said, “They certainly stumbled along the way, for lack of a better word. They played into that hate, in a way that is understandable for a person in their twenties to do.” 

Perhaps the bro persona hasn’t entirely left but morphed into something new. According to Billboard, they now spend most of their days on Zoom calls for their venture capital firm, Mantis. 

‘We’re in on the joke, we get the joke, we love the joke’

The Chainsmokers seem very invested in changing their image. As part of the rollout for the new album, they returned to social media after a two-year hiatus in January. They posted an Instagram clip that ended with, “Sorry, The Chainsmokers are back. “

Pall said, “Part of the thing with The Chainsmokers is, we felt on some levels like we were becoming people’s dirty little secret.” He continued, “By being like, ‘We’re in on the joke, we get the joke, we love the joke,’ it disarms people and allows people to enjoy the music for what it is… I think it was really important to kind of reset the tone.”

He finished his thought, “I definitely think we won people over, and that was 100% the plan.” 

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