ATJ presents the PAINS of BEING PURE at HEART, Wed, Oct. 22, 2008, for After the Jump’s CMJ Showcase at the Knitting Factory NYC, performing at 11:15PM inside the Tap Room, along with Best Friends Forever, the Depreciation Guild, My Teenage Stride, A Sunny Day in Glasgow & Ringo Deathstarr.
Listen :: Everything with You
MIA: Musically, how did the band form, what past experiences do you carry with you?
KIP: We were all friends and we formed in order to play at Peggy’s birthday party. Peggy and I were obsessed with Black Tambourine, The Pastels and Dear Nora, and spent much of our early band practices listening to their records. When each track started, one of us would say, “oh wait, this is my favorite song!” This was occasionally interrupted by talking about how amazing it would be to someday meet Stephen Pastel and how the Vaselines were the coolest band ever. Alex and I would both geek out over old noisy indie pop like 14 Iced Bears and early Paint a Rainbow-era My Bloody Valentine, but were also really into The Exploding Hearts.
PEGGY: Yeah, our early practices were more just hanging out and listening to records for hours. Our live shows probably didn’t start getting better until we stopped doing that… probably around when Kurt joined.
ALEX: Haha — yeah… Kurt was way better than the rest of us at actually knowing how to play when he joined. He came to all our early shows and impressed us with his homemade Blueboy and Field Mice badges.
KIP: Plus, he beat me mercilessly at “Galaga,” which is my favorite arcade game ever. Though to be fair, we only played on Nintendo — I still think I can do better on an actual machine…
MIA: Describe the feeling of living and making music in your city, feel free to share a memory or a certain place that makes you feel like home.
PEGGY: The best thing about making music in NYC is getting to do it with your friends. I’m from New Orleans, and it was always so hard to find people to play with.
KIP: Yeah, I think there is a strange stigma about New York as this hyper competitive, unfriendly place — but to us, we feel the opposite is true. There are so many bands here that are making incredible music that are actually friends with each other. We play a lot of shows at a small pastry shop/record store/bar called Cake Shop. It has a genuine DIY attitude about booking, and it Almost feels like a house show, as the room is tiny, there’s no stage and the audience is right on top of you. One of our favorites, caUSE co-MOTION, is more or less the house band there, and a show there is always guaranteed to be fun.
ALEX: I think New York is, and probably always will be, an exciting place to play music. There are just so many good bands, different types of music/scenes, new venues popping up — and, maybe most importantly, LOTS of people who are interested in music and giving new bands a chance. I think people here are way more open-minded about that sort of thing than people would expect.
MIA: Do you enjoy to perform live? How does the band like to get ready and is there a favorite song that you like to play for your audience?
PEGGY: Most Pains shows are really fun, and it’s gotten to the point now where I’m not nearly as self conscious as I used to be. There’s few better feelings than playing to a crowd that’s really into it. It’s life-affirming.
Kip: Definitely! I can’t think of an “unfun” song to play live — I mean we’d never play something that we weren’t really into. Also, writing songs that are about real things, real feelings and experiences, each time we perform they carry a sense of emotion and meaning that makes it more than just singing words and playing guitar. It’s hard to explain without seeming emo, but each time we play a song, it feels so immediate and necessary — the words are fresh and the feelings are true.
ALEX: Yeah, playing live gets more fun all the time — the more we play, and especially after adding Kurt who’s an amazing drummer, the easier it is to feel confident and assured. Even though we’ve played it at almost every show we’ve ever done, my favorite song to play might be “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.” It’s just such an epic jam and probably the closest thing we have to a “singalong.”
MIA: What has been the most impacting compliment, or criticism, your band has ever received?
KIP: In Sweden, someone came up to us after the show and said we sounded like “My So Called Life.” I think you can’t get a better compliment than that.
MIA: Within your songwriting, is there some type of element that has brought about a certain mood in yr writing, making you feel more/less different than when you started? How long has the recording process taken to complete your album and to finally believe that it’s ready?
KIP: I think our songs are for people like we were in high school — I had two best friends and we just hung out all the time, listening to music, talking about anarchy and staying out all night, but not doing anything particularly cool or rebellious — just sort of drinking a lot of coffee, hanging out at the park at night and feeling pretty much cut off from the more popular cliques in school. I guess that sounds like a teen drama — but music was and still is so important to us in dealing with life. As for our upcoming record on Slumberland, we were so grateful that Archie Moore (Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl) wanted to mix it with us. It was incredible to have someone who was actually in two of our favorite bands take such an active interest in our record — we were a bit star struck, like “oh my god, ARCHIE MOORE is turning up the low end on the floor tom!” Also, he was really familiar with the bands we liked (again, having been in or personally knowing several of them) so it made things easier than if we were with some dude with a ponytail telling us about creamy tones or whatever.
MIA: What qualities do you hope listeners may take from listening to your music?
KIP: It’s not really for us to say. All we can do is play the songs and what it means to people is really something personal. I’d hate to meet my favorite band and have them tell me that i didn’t “get” the songs or
something like that.
PEGGY: I hope they appreciate our simplicity. We don’t have a lot of shredding guitar solos or weird time signatures — it’s mostly just the E chord and a lot of fuzz and reverb.
ALEX: I would hope people experience more of an empowering, “eff yeah!” kind of feeling. And, most importantly, that it’s FUN!
MIA: Any recommended records so far of ‘08?
PEGGY: I like the Crystal Stilts a lot. And Pants Yell! I can’t think of anything else that came out in 2008, that I’ve been listening to anyway. I’m always at least 2 years behind.
ALEX: Vivian Girls, S/T: Can’t stop listening to this – Heavily reverb’d with a punk/lo-fi take on the girl group sound. Really catchy, immediate and unique. Low Motion Disco, Keep it Slow: I guess “balaeric” or “space disco” is all the rage right now, but this, to me, nails it best. It’s sample-heavy, but subtle — everything sounds kind of goofy and big and heartfelt. Thee Oh Sees, Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion: I guess reverb is a theme here, haha. A little more bluesy take on Velvet Underground-y skeletal rock. It’s funny how in 2008 something so simply made, can still sound so different and moving.
KIP: Yeah, I love the Crystal Stilts so much, and the Vivian Girls record is an instant classic too (Frankie played drums on my two favorite records of 2008 — I have such a band crush on her). But I was also super into Titus Andronicus’ LP, which I think is such a powerful and remarkable record — totally amazing start to finish. Patrick Stickles is one of my absolute favorite songwriters/lyricists/interview-ees, and that whole band is just so lovable. Plus, caUSE co-MOTION!’s new album/singles collection on Slumberland (which I need to buy NOW) is gonna rule for sure. I know I’m biased, but Kurt’s other band, the Depreciation Guild, is really incredible heavy dream-pop. Their debut, “In Her Gentle Jaws” is like everything about being a teenage boy turned into music — heavy guitars, video games, loneliness — sort of like if Brian Wilson was born in the 80s.
MIA: Name a visual artist or piece of work that inspires you.
ALEX: I just got into this photographer named Roger Ballen. His book Shadow Chamber is really, really stark and creepy. He was a geologist working in Africa before he started photographing, and ended up capturing some truly amazing images.
PEGGY: I like Egon Schiele, and I thought it was really cool that the Rachel’s scored a play about him, but otherwise, I don’t really look for higher meaning in art, it just kind of fulfills some kind of aesthetic sensibility.
MIA: Please share a mixtape with a theme of your choice.
PEGGY: Songs I listened to in 8th grade (Yeah, I was totally ALT)
ALEX: My “Over the Top Synth Pop Mixtape
KIP: Swedes Make The Best Music in the World Mix (Sadly, Cats on Fire are Finnish, so I can’t include them, but otherwise I would…)
Claire by Japan Air
There and Back Again by the Legends
The Boy I Wish I’d Never Met by A Smile and A Ribbon
Koca-Kola Veins by Tough Alliance
Violation by The Bridal Shop
I Don’t Need Love, I’ve got My Band by Radio Dept.
Kate by Sambassadeur
Young Girls in Town by Cloetta Paris
Stage Persona by The Embassy
Downhill by Days