15th Mar2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The Interview

by Todd
Let me preface this by saying that lead guitarist/ lead vocalist Kip Berman could have easily taken a pass on this interview.  Their self-titled new album has already received tremendous buzz.  Rather than playing it safe (White Lies), they’re playing a zillion shows at SXSW and really putting themselves out there.  Let me clue you in on a secret…psst….this band will be number one on our “must see” list for SXSW.  The band most likely to: be named the “best of” by the majority of publications reporting at SXSW, have their album in every end of year top 10 list that has any credibility….ladies and gentleman….The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
TDOA: The album certainly touches a lot of C86 references. Coincidence or are you fans of that era of music? I hear Psychocandy and a little bit of Shop Assistants (which may be too obscure) which are certainly due to be revived for a new audience. Am I close?

KB: We are flattered to draw comparisons to bands like that, but it’s not the sort of music we listened to most growing up. I think we had pretty typical American teenager experiences of listening to Nirvana and Sonic Youth, as well as punk and hardcore. Kurt Cobain always would champion bands like Beat Happening and The Vaselines, so through that we started to learn about underground pop. I definitely love The Pastels and Teenage Fanclub, as well as Rocketship and Aislers Set. Peggy’s a big Bratmobile, Polvo and Dear Nora fan, and Kurt loves a lot of Sarah and Postcard bands, like Aztec Camera, Blueboy and Orange Juice. There’s a lot of overlap in our tastes– especially around that noisy pop sound, but i think we all bring something slightly different and that’s a good thing.

TDOA: Kurt’s drum parts are tremendous. Does he write his parts after the rest of the music has been written or do you ever start with his drum riffs and develop from there?

KB: Kurt’s by far the best musician in our group, and his drumming really brings the songs to a special level of awesome. His parts are pretty crazy, but are so essential to the sound. On “Stay Alive,” the song was built around a beat he started playing at practice one day.

TDOA: Can you indulge the guitar geeks in the crowd and tell us what guitars, amps and effects pedals you’re using?

KB: This sort of stuff isn’t really that important either– too many people try to find the perfect delay pedal to express how sad they are that their girlfriend dumped them. I use a Fender Jaguar and a big muff pedal. I usually borrow a guitar amp, but when I bring my own it’s a Fender Twin Reverb. Good songs sound good no matter on what instruments they’re played. (Ed. Note: Usually I’d delete an answer that essentially says, “that’s a dumb question, who cares?  But the answer is so brilliant given the weight most bands put on it and further proves the genius of the bands songwriting abilities.  This isn’t a “studio trick” band.  The comment about the delay pedal is spot on.)
TDOA:  Can a couple of you list your top 5 albums of last year?
KB: Ladyhawke “s/t”
The Crystal Stilts – “A Light of Night”
Let’s Wrestle “In Loving Memory of” EP
Days “Downhill” EP
Manhattan Love Suicides “Burnt Out Landscapes”

TDOA:  Any discussions with major labels and any interest on your part?
KB: We’re on Slumberland records, and quite happy about that.

TDOA:  You’ve been hyped in a number of places lately. Does it impact you when you play live by putting added pressure on you? Does it impact you when you think about writing on the road?

KB: No, not really– we are having a lot of fun and we’re just grateful that people are into it. All that’s happened and yet to happen– it’s beyond any kind of expectation or thought or possibility– it’s all so cool and we don’t take it for granted. We really enjoy being together– we’re all best friends anyway, and the chance to play music together and get to go places and have adventures– it’s totally the best!

After playing at SXSW, TPOBPAH will be touring throughout the U.S. and abroad.  They’re album is available to order through Amazon.  Buy it, see it, live it!

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