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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Interview Pt.2

Part 2, YEAH!

the pains of being pure at heart

Let’s go back awhile – you formed for your keyboardist’s birthday party, right? Do you intend to play at all forthcoming band birthday celebrations?

Kip: Well, we have, for the most part. I remember Alex’s birthday party in our first year, and we threw this big house party at the place I was living and A Sunny Day in Glasgow and Pants Yell came and played with us, and it was one of the most fun times ever. This year, there were noise issues around Kurt’s birthday party that prevented us from playing– but the party ended up getting noise violations from the police anyway, so our restraint was pretty much pointless.

This year, Peggy is curating a birthday show at cake shop and I think she’s trying to get Linton from the legendary Aislers Set to perform.

Alex: Yeah we always try to make band birthdays into some sort of popstravaganza.

Peggy: If not, I at least like to have a birthday party that involves lots of dancing to jock jams.

What music did you hear as a child? Do you think it had any effect on the music you create now?

Kip: Prince and David Bowie, mostly. I really love glam rock, though I suppose we don’t seem like a glam rock band. I love T. Rex and New York Dolls too, though I think I didn’t hear them until I was well out of my single digits.

My mom used to always sing me medieval ballads about lovers dying of broken hearts– I remember that very, very clearly, and that’s maybe why we’re so emo…

Alex: I listened to pop and rock radio growing up. My parents would play the Beatles all the time and I just got insanely sick of it. It took me until late college to even think about listening to the Beatles again. Starting around 15, I got into punk and hardcore and started going to local shows. That was really my gateway into non-commercial music and I never looked back.

Peggy: I really loved Madonna.  I used to watch the 24-hour Madonnathons on MTV and it’d be kind of embarrassing whenever my mom walked in and Madonna would be like, humping a chair and grabbing her crotch.  I also was a die-hard Debbie Gibson fan.  That was my first concert.  I owned Electric Youth perfume, and hand-embroidered her name on the back of a jean jacket I had.  I guess even at a young age, I had a really obsessive relationship with music.

“You’re my sister, and this love is fucking right!” – That’s a pretty shocking lyric, isn’t it? What prompted that song?

Kip: The use of “sister” is figurative. It’s a gesture of solidarity, of closeness of same-ness– not of physical relation. 

Do you enjoy the balance of sweet melodies and challenging subject matter? It’s a really good twee trick that keeps on getting renewed by acts like yourselves.

Kip: Is Nirvana twee? They did the same thing. It would be pretty sickening to write pretty songs with pretty words about how pretty everything is. It would be even worse to do the opposite– our songs are honest, and never strive for anything other than to be true and unafraid.

It’s sad when bands try to “polite” their way to the top by singing in universal, easily digestible language about the most generic situations that could possibly apply vaguely to everyone– but truly to no one.

Let us be not that.

What are your live shows like? Even noisier than the record?

Kip: We try to play really loud– I think people may expect a picnic on stage and it’s definitely not that…

Alex: Yeah it’s not really jangly or twinkly or anything, it’s big, big guitars. Also, Kurt might play harder than any drummer I’ve ever met.

Peggy: We’re louder than people expect.

You recently went on tour with The Wedding Present. One time, my brother got him to dress up as a bear (no joke, I’ve got a picture!). Did you manage anything similar?

Kip: David Gedge is wonderful, and a truly sincere and talented songwriter. I think I nabbed his BBC visitors pass as a souvenir, but he doesn’t seem like the sort of person to play practical jokes on or ask to perform as a clown at your cousin’s birthday party. I would like to see that picture, though….

“You’ve lost your love of fish, too much hibernation”

Alex: It was all I could do to muster up the balls to talk to the guy, let alone ask him to dress up in a bear suit, haha. I’m not sure I have the creativity or bad-ass streak it takes to be a true prankster. Gedge was an awesome guy and the Weddoes were really, really nice and accommodating to us.

Finally, Kevin Shields comes up to you and says “I’ve fired those other losers. Wanna join my band?” Do you leave The Pains behind? Do you become My Bloody Pains Of Being Pure At Heart? What do you do?!

Kip: I’d tell him “No thanks.” I’d much rather be in The Pains of Being Pure at Heart!!!

Alex: For real – Pains or bust!

Peggy: Yeah.  I’d still wanna bro-down with Kevin Shields though.

Who wouldn’t, Peggy? Who wouldn’t? Maybe he’ll read this and add you to the ever-excelling line-up for the MBV ATP in December. PM sure hopes so. Until December, reader, you should listen to The Pains here.

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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart Interview Pt.1

Here’s an interview that was supposed to be published but wasn’t. Whee!

the pains of being pure at heart

New York’s The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are distinct by their ability to totally transcend their influences. The husky, dreamy pop fury of their self-titled debut calls to mind any number of fuzzy twee and poppy shoegaze stalwarts as you’d care to trip over on your way to the NPL, but does that mean we have to continually view their music in comparison to their predecessors? Lord, no! Theirs is an energy and vim as powerful as anyone else’s, and theirs is a genuine, demonstrable enthusiasm owned by so few. More than that, the LP is a bracing thrash of positivity, an arm on the shoulder of your younger self telling you that it’s fine to feel like that. A comforting challenge, if you will.

To prove this, we got in contact with three out of four (it ain’t bad) of these pop-swilling diadems of restlessness on the head of post-pubescent insecurities and spoke about the demon of perceived over-influence (apparently not that bad), Madonnathons and the mental image of David Gedge dressed as a bear. 

What do you think about the comparisons you continually receive to shoegaze, twee and C-86 bands? Is it frustrating at all to be continually mentioned alongside the same artists?

Kip: We are a pop band. To us, it’s super flattering any time people compare us to something they feel positive about. It’s completely natural to try to compartmentalize and define music, but of course it’s not exactly how we see ourselves. We certainly wouldn’t say we’re C-86 (at the time I was about 6 and listening to Prince), and shoegaze doesn’t totally make sense as I only use about 3 guitar pedals (all of them distortion). But If “nu-twee-gaze-noise” is how people want to talk about pop, who are we to deny them the joys of hyphenation.

Alex: Yeah I think compartmentalization is a natural thing. Everyone’s guilty of it, it’s not annoying or anything. Also, we like all those bands, it’s not like we’re cringing when people mention us alongside Jesus & Mary Chain, even if that’s not what we’re explicitly going for.

Peggy: I definitely really like all the bands that we get comparisons to.  But we didn’t sit down consciously and decide that we were going to sound like any of those bands.  I guess I consider it very flattering in a way, and a sign of success that we managed to start a band that sounds like a combination of all my favorite bands.

Are you sick of answering questions about your genre and influences? People sometimes seem unable to focus on anything else with a band that has the sonic appearance of other, more established acts…

Kip: We’re just excited people want to talk to us. I grew up listening to Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Yo la Tengo, as well as American punk and hardcore. Nirvana was especially influential, as they championed lesser known bands like The Vaselines and Beat Happening. I don’t think a lot of 15 year olds in America would have otherwise gotten into that stuff without Kurt Cobain really using his celebrity to turn people our age onto it.

Alex: I think it’s interesting to see what people hear and why. I think it’s more interesting, usually, to hear what music makes people feel, though, rather than what 20-year-old bands use the same chord progression.

Peggy: Yeah.  What Alex said! Sometimes I just want to scream out, it’s pop music!  The kind of music I like listening to are tunes that get stuck in my head, with lyrics I can relate to. I love the Brian Jonestown Massacre, even though the influences might be really obvious.  It’s about the songs. And I think personality always shines through.

What strikes me most about your album is the energy. The musical language isn’t always as important in a record like this – what’s more prescient is how convincingly you fight your corner and how defiantly you express yourself. What motivated the songs to be this way?

Kip: We 100 percent love what we do so much. I guess (and I hope) it shows. We feel so grateful for the opportunity to play music together and are genuinely thrilled and surprised that people feel as passionately about our band as we do.

Alex: I think it comes from being genuine and having as much fun as possible. I like that – “fighting your corner.” We just wanna play these songs as big and loud as possible.

Peggy: I always have fun playing the songs, and we have fun together as a band.  I think it comes through in the music.

In the UK, we’re occasionally punished by a television show called ‘Don’t Forget The Lyrics’, in which Shane Richie (an English idiot) goads hapless members of the public into singing karaoke in front of the nation, the main objective being to remember certain lyrics without the subtitles to win money. The expressions on contestants’ faces when they have no idea of the song and claw desperately at half-melodies is frequently upsetting to watch. What would your ideal musical game show format be?

Kip: I think that speaks to a certain truth that for most listeners, lyrics don’t necessarily leave much of an impact. That is pretty much the opposite of how we feel– lyrics are so important and really make or break bands for me. Some of my favorite bands– like My Favorite, distinguish themselves from the countless, generic peers by the level of care and the emotional resonance of their lyrics. For me to fall in love with a band, it is as much to do with lyrics and music.

As for game shows, well– I’m a big fan of Wheel of Fortune, so perhaps if there was some sort of musical version of that. Or maybe, I would just like to go on Wheel of Fortune someday and meet Vanna White…

Alex: I think our ideal game show would be ’90s coming-of-age sitcom trivia. Maybe to make it music related it could be based on all the indie music guest appearances like R.E.M. on Pete & Pete and Julianna Hatfield on My So-Called Life? Clearly this is a half-baked idea, haha.

More tomorrow! Have a listen to the band here (as if you haven’t already, you MORON).

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How’s Your Week? – Precious Fathers

A few years ago (maybe 2005…) PM went mental for Precious Fathers, an instrumental bunch from Vancouver. They were a slow-burning affair, both musically and progressively, culminating in them taking a good four years to release to their excellent self-titled debut (thanks to stints in other bands, including Destroyer ferchrissakes). Alluvial Fan is coming out on June 22nd, but you can hear the whole thing streaming on Myspace. PM gave it a whirl yesterday and thought it was not un-excellent. In fact, it was excellent. Anywho, Paul Goertzen from the band was kind enough to answer a few questions. Not about the album or anything, just, y’know, how’s it goin’ sort of stuff.

precious fathers

In a word, how’s your week?

Clobbered!

What did you get up to last night and how was it?

Photographed a friends art, ate a delicious Empanada and shook hands. It was great.

What’s for dinner tonight and who’s cooking it?

Well I’m heading for practice in a barn in unincoporated territory outside of Vancouver right after work tonight so maybe a gas station dog. I guess the gas station guy makes them. Yea he does for sure. Not sure if those guys get the food safety training.

What have you listened to today and did you like it?

Coworkers saying good morning and my girlfriend. I’m kinda into those Blank Dogs.

What’s your favourite/least favourite thing that’s happened this week?

[livin’/lovin’]/[scrubbin’/screamin’]

Paul, thanks forever. Have a read of PM’s early forays into musalism – a review of the first Precious Fathers record and another interview with Paul – for this amazing old US site that’s now defunct. Needs to come back, I’d write my face off for those guys.

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Dananananaykroyd Interview Pt.2

MORE! Part 1 is here.

dananananaykroyd

Can you tell me about the importance of unity on the album? I can’t think of a band operating today that has more of a sense of all its members working for the same goals, everyone in it together.

DR: It’s just something we’ve always done.

JBJ: It’s weird, our opinions on certain things, our ethics, have always been defined from the beginning. Everyone always agreed on things strongly. It just so happens that our live show and the way we write and record is a result of us defining ourselves early.

DR: We didn’t hold auditions or anything like that, it’s just a gathering of friends. I think right there, right at the start, we’ve had that unity. Friends first.

So if it got to the point where people started falling out…

DR: We fall out all the time.

JBJ: It’s six people living on buses, you’re going to fall out with everyone. If we were a three-piece and there’s a falling-out, you can’t exactly get away from it. But if there’s six of you, then you can…

DR: Avoid certain members! Yeah… unity on the album, what do you mean by that?

Well, you chant your own name, you begin the album with everyone at once on one rocktageous note…

DR: The album was supposed to be a “hello” to the world. The idea is that it catches people’s attention, us shouting our band name is just telling them who we are.

JBJ: And a sly teaching people how to say it… our name just highlights idiots that can’t read.

Jim Bowen or Jim Davidson?

DR: Jim Bowen.

JBJ: Who’s Jim Bowen?

DR: The guy from Bullseye.

JBJ: Oh, so it’s him or Jim Davidson the racist homophobe?

Mario or Luigi?

JBJ: Luigi. I think Mario’s a bit of a wank. Luigi’s the underdog. On Mariokart 64 I would always go with Luigi.

DR: And he’s green for Celtic.

JBJ: And the IRA.

Now that the vocals in the band are split between John and Calum, do you find you play the drums less, John?

JBJ: When I joined the band, it was as a second drummer. The two-drummer thing is amazing, but it’s better if you show the contrast between one drummer and the reason it’s so amazing. The first idea was to drop drums from certain sections so the sections with two drummers would be bigger, like in [recent single] ‘Black Wax’. I think the first song with two vocals was ‘Watch This’, and we thought I’d just play drums in the chorus and make the verse really spacky. It boosts the crowd interaction thing, so there’s two people in your face. We sometimes write lyrics together. There are verses where I’ve written it all, there are verses where Calum has.

There are certain tweaks and differences in some of the older songs on the album, there’s that guitar line at the beginning of ‘Song One Puzzle’…

JBJ: The triplet-y crotchet bit?

DR: That’s Duncan’s part. I’ve been playing the exact same thing…

And you thought “What the HELL is that guy doing?!”

DR: The thing is, I tell Duncan what to play! Then sometimes he comes up with his own parts. He’s a lot better than I’ve given him credit for.

JBJ: It’s not even that, it’s playing the live so much. You start finding little shortcuts, little things to add. They’re never spoken of, it’s natural.

Matthew Horne collapsed on stage this afternoon, what would you do if that happened to someone in the band?

JBJ: It’s almost happened a couple of times, honest to God.

DR: I reckon if it happened it would take a while for someone in this band to notice that that person actually was in any distress.

What’s the nearest you’ve come to it happening?

JBJ: I’ve had proper dizzy spells, from screaming or just exhaustion.

DR: We don’t really care… not really, we’d call all the necessary authorities, clean away the body and get our old drummer back!

Good times. Goooood times.

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Dananananaykroyd Interview Pt.1

Dananananaykroyd are everywhere. Picking up critical acclaim for their hilariously good debut LP, touring the nation to ballistic acclaim and generally mucking about on the internet, they’re the “seriously fun” maxim personified. Much has been made of their relentless ability to appear boisterous in concert and on record, but it wouldn’t work unless they were attentive listeners and interepreters of musical gesture. Sonic Youth meet Fugazi while Don Caballero tell them to turn it down so we can hear the widdly bits, if you like. And Billy Corgan’s there too, but no-one’s really speaking to him.

Just before their sold-out show at the Hoxton Square Bar and Grill, we had a chat with guitarist David Roy and vocalist/drummer John Baillie Jnr. regarding their acclaim, their energy, their unity and some other guff.Dananananaykroyd

What’s your favourite bit in Robocop?

David Roy: “Can you fly, Bobby?”! You know, the guy from _That 70s Show_? I can’t look at that guy now without thinking “Can you fly, Bobby?”! He probably looks in the mirror every day and thinks, “I swear I’m a nice guy.”

Yeah, I remember him, Clarence something-or-other…

DR: Yeah, Clarence Boddiker. I sometimes imagine the guy from _That 70s Show_ is actually the guy from _Robocop_ later on in his life when he’s settled down with a family.

I bought some tablets in Superdrug yesterday. The dosage said take five at a time, but it’s only a packet of twenty-four. What’s that about?

John Baillie Jr: What were they for?

A stomach complaint.

DR: They do that on purpose. You don’t need to take five. But when you get to the last four, you’re gonna need to buy the next pack.

JBJ: In paracetemol, it’s mostly shite. It’s like filler so you can hold it, because it would be microscopic. Well, not microscopic. Fucking tiny. Inconveniently small. So you think, instead of taking five, why can’t they just double the strength?

DR: What, so you take two and a half? Is it not the way the NHS need to make money?

Do you like how I’ve got a page of serious questions and a page of silly ones?

DR: What are you talking about? “What’s your favourite bit in _Robocop_?” That’s a serious question! You know, I haven’t seen that film since I was about 8… my uncle showed it to me when I was a wee boy, it scared the living crap out of me.

That’s the first film I ever saw that had an 18 certificate.

DR: Me too! That bit where he gets shot to pieces is horrible… “Can you fly, Bobby?”

When I saw it, though, it was taped off ITV and they’d censored certain bits of it, so when this one henchman drops a load of scrap metal on Robocop, instead of shouting “Die you bastard!” he shouts “Die you blackguard!”

DR: Haha, “Die you blackguard!” “Forget you!”

JBJ: When we were in America I realised that the only version of _The Karate Kid_ that I’d seen was taped off the TV. So there’s these little bits that I’d never seen before, like, you know when he’s in the shower and Johnny’s rolling a joint, and he gets the hose and fucks him up? There’s a shot where the camera’s down, and Johnny’s rolling a joint, and they don’t show you that on TV. I never understood how he got wet, ever. He just seems to turn a tap on and run away.

DR: Not the back-firing-toilet-wet-his-joint trick? Sorry, your interview.

That’s fine, it’s all part of it. I was reading the NME review of your album, and it tries to place you in the context of some sort of scene, it didn’t really talk about the music at all. What did you think?

DR: (sounding resigned) It’s funny you should ask. We were talking about this earlier today. Personally, James McMahon who wrote it is a really good guy. He asked to do the album, so we were dead chuffed, we thought were going to get a proper, good review in the NME and we wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m really gutted. Really gutted. It goes back to my teenage years when the NME actually meant a lot to me, and I would buy every 9/10 or 10/10 album. I always dreamed that one day… you know, because the NME’s going downhill a little, I don’t read it so much anymore… I’d always dreamt of having a great debut album score, a well-written review. It kind of broke my heart a little, because I’d waited fifteen years and it’s a bit of a let-down. He didn’t mean it. He didn’t. He was asking why we were gutted, ‘cos we told him.

JBJ: He said he really loved the album.

DR: But the review wasn’t about our album.

JBJ: No. It felt like at the end of it he was like “this album will add to this scene that I’ve just explained to you”.

DR: I know it’s kind of sad, a band like us waiting for a big NME review. It’s because of my age, and I am a little older, so I read the NME when it was at its peak. And that’s that done. That’s our debut album in the NME done, and we can’t ever get that back. I just wished it could’ve been better. This is on strictly personal level, it doesn’t reflect the opinions of the band! Most of them don’t care, we don’t really read our own reviews. But personally it was a little bit of a downer.

Aww, oh no! More tomorrow, when our subjects talk about what they’d do if one of them died. But it’s funny. Have a little listen then!

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How’s Your Week? – Malcolm Middleton

Malcolm Middleton. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? PM is honoured to have a few words from the ex-Arab Strap-ee and truly excellent solo artist. Despite what you may have read, he’s not disappearing.

Malcolm Middleton

In a word, how’s your week?

Not good. Ups & downs. I’ve been rehearsing with my band and I find these things stressful, it’s like recording the album again, every day. I’ve probably had 3 successes this week, and about 9 failures, so all in all things are on the decent. On the bright side, I just received the finished CD version of Waxing Gibbous and it looks great, I’m very proud of this album. Although I wish I’d never said I was taking a break as that’s not doing me any favours. To be clear, I’m not taking a break, it’s just going to be that my next couple of albums will be under different names and styles and collaborations etc. If anything I’ll probably be doing more. Just not anything under my MM moniker for a while. I’ll still be touring till the end of the year though.

What did you get up to last night and how was it?

 
Last night… Wednesday? …home from rehearsal at 6, did some e-mails, picked girlfriend up from work, went to highly-recommended authentic Indian restaurant, didn’t like it, came home, messed around, read book, put on black polo-neck, stared at ceiling (upper right), the abyss, did some work on an overdue remix, bed?

What’s for dinner tonight and who’s cooking it?

I’m cooking tonight. Schnitzel with asparagus, broccoli and potatoes.

What have you listened to today and did you like it?

 

I listened to the She & Him album which I really like. It’s on the verge of being annoying but I’m in the mood for that at the minute.

What’s your favourite/least favourite thing that’s happened this week?

 

Favourite: Rehearsing the song Carry Me and realising that I love it and it will sound good live. Least favourite: Hearing Zoe Ball on Radio 2 and realising that now I have to move onto Radio 3 probably. First Wiley, then Cox, now Ball. Get out of my radio!

That’s the longest ‘In a word’ we’ve ever encountered, but who’s complaining? NO-ONE, divs. Anyway, see Malcolm’s excellent album reviewed here, and have a listen to him doing a noise here.

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How’s Your Week? – Steve Abel

This week, the escalating-in-excellence Steve Abel has a go. His latest album is really good, and you’d buy it if you knew about how good it was. Here’s how good it is. Anyway, recovering from the torrential water attacks from nature which habitually bombard our fair capital, here’s Steve.

steve-abel-band

In a word, how’s your week?
 
Bustling.
 
What did you get up to last night and how was it?
 
Gig in North London at The Steeles with Dan Mangan. Good scene.
 
What’s for dinner tonight and who’s cooking it?
 
Very large bowl of miso and veg care of the Fujiyama in Brixton – superb! Ray cooked it apparently. Tomorrow I make Brazilian black beans and rice.
 
What have you listened to today and did you like it?
 
Forgot the stuff I didn’t like. Listened to some new Bill Callahan online and I did like it. Also The Specials Do Nothing‘ and Ghost Town (genius) and a Dennis Wilson track from ‘77 called Moonshine – lush, expansive, beautiful.
 
What’s your favourite/least favourite thing that’s happened this week?
 
Found a new chord for a new song – favourable. The least would be waiting cold and weary in the Camden night for the last bus to Brixton, though not complaining.

Hope you got dry quick and that the Brazilian black beans were a solid success, Steve! Hear, here.

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