August 28, 2018 - Northwest Music Scene
Gillian G. Gaar
You can tell The Purrs are from the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, specifically), because Destroy the Sun opens with a line that references the dislike some of the region’s residents have to warmer temperatures: “Destroy the sun/and my mood gets better.” A sentiment served up alongside a bank of thick, chewy, guitars, topped with some nice alt-rock dissonance and pop harmonies that’ll get your toes tapping, even as you’re reaching to switch on the light to ward off the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The band’s sixth album is a cascade of sounds. Most notably a twanging surf rock-esque guitar that keeps resurfacing throughout the album’s twists and turns; not in the nimble Dick Dale mode, but taking a more melancholy, even mournful, tack. (In other words, you won’t be frugging to it.) Not that things are depressing, by any means — despite the presence of lyrics like the cynical “Don’t play by the rules/you’ll just get burned” in the bluesy “Here For So Long.” It’s better classified as “down, but not out.”
The vocals (male lead, female harmonies) are wry, sardonic, dispassionate (the almost bored recitation of an evening’s violent events in “Late Night Disturbance”), even verging on nihilistic (the bitter “Now You Know”). But there’s no callous hostility, and if there’s an oh well, whatever, never mind resignation at times, there’s also just enough light to keep you wondering what’s going to pop up next.
“Bitter pop” might be a way to sum it up — and how better to describe a song like “Lifetime of Wrong Turns,” which has the song’s narrator accepting his lack of good fortune with good grace? (And speaking of titles, it’s a nice little tweak to name the album’s ninth song “Track 9.”) Then there’s the frisky “Walking Out the Door,” the brusquely cheerful (cheerfully brusque?) “What Ever Happened to Billy Boy,” and it all wraps up with a beach party.
Yes, you read that right. “Wave Tale” puts you right smack dab in the middle of a gathering on the beach; you hear the waves rolling in, a crackling fire, and snippets of indistinct conversation, until the music kicks in at around the five-and-a-half-minute mark. Then it’s a long, slow burn for another seven minutes. Dig it.
08/02/2018 - KEXP
Love, Loss, Crime, & Hedonism: The Purrs Return with New Album Destroy The Sun (KEXP Premiere + Q&A)
Seattle band The Purrs have a long history of crafting supremely enchanting psych rock opuses. Just how long have they been at it, exactly? They won’t say except that it’s “long enough to order a whiskey straight up from any bar in Canada.” It’s that hardened, confident attitude that’s served the band throughout their career, channeled into records like The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of and The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together. Now they’re taking their already massive, ever-growing sound beyond the Earth’s atmosphere with their latest release, Destroy The Sun, out tomorrow on Swoon Records.
As the name implies, the album finds The Purrs at their most explosive. Riffs rip of the fret boards like solar flares burning your corneas on the opening title track. But the band’s sense of nuance is heavily featured throughout the record as well with the simmering sonic explorations of “Late Night Disturbance” and the haunting drone noise of closer “Wave Tale.” They’re the kind of band that functions exceptionally both for late nights driving in the scorching heat with the windows or meticulously studied with your headphones.
Prior to the release, KEXP has an advance stream of the album below. We also caught up with bassist Jima about making the record, learning to let go, and the capitalist structures they would utilize to actually “destroy the sun.”
KEXP: Destroy The Sun is your first album since 2013’s The Boy With Astronaut Eyes. What were you up to in that interim between records?
Jima: We toured a bit. The we started tracking and writing a new album. About five songs in we had a personnel change - which necessitated ditching all the work done up to that point. Then we auditioned a replacement for several months. Then we rehearsed with the new member, Dusty Hayes (Nevada Bachelors, Ruston Mire, Shake Some Action) to get back in gig shape. Somewhere in there was a month-long sabbatical to Maui. We played a bunch of gigs to get the songs into recording shape. We started in on the new album, which we tracked February 2017 - May 2017 in several Seattle studios. Then we put out a single on Mike McCready’s Hockeytalkter label in February 2018. Then we finished the album. Whew!
Your music has often been built on grand, expansive sounds and surrealist imagery. Just going off the title alone, it gives the impression that you’re reaching even further out than ever before. What ideas were you trying to crystallize and embody with this new record?
That is a very nice thing to say about our sound. All the usual rock music themes apply: Love, loss, crime, hedonism, etc. I don't think there is any specific message to the songs really. Some hints of dystopia leak through every once in a while even though I try to keep that to a minimum. It is too easy these days to slip into that negative scene. I recently moved to the north after being priced out of Wallingford/Fremont like most other people. So I'm drawing from a lot more Northgate type visual cues these days.
The title track isn't really about Armageddon or anything. It was more about how happy people make me nervous. I think they must be either crazy, stupid or both.
You worked with Johnny Sangster on this album, who has worked on all your records since 2009’s Amused Confused & More Bad News. What do you like about working with him and how do you feel he compliments your sound?
Johnny has a vast knowledge of music. Consequently, when I try to describe the kind of sound I want using band names as adjectives, he knows what I'm talking about. He has the studio chops to make the sound happen. He won't let me go down a rabbit hole with vocals. Additionally he is an awesome percussionist. “Destroy the Sun” is the first record where we passed on the recording duties to someone outside the band. Johnny had us play live, recording all primary tracks to tape. We think this was a good call.
Stylistically, there’s some really lovely and exciting textures and riffs interspersed throughout this record. I’m fascinated by how you all continue to find new ways to experiment with sound. How do you keep yourself fresh? Where do you look to for sonic inspiration?
Again that was a very nice thing to say. In our case what it mostly takes is repetition, repetition, repetition. The bones of a song come pretty fast. Often significant changes will happen during our demo process, where we get a chance to pull apart the individual pieces and examine them up close. That happens again in the studio.
Everyone in the band likes music but I don't think we draw much inspiration from it. I'm pretty sure Jason does quite a bit of woodshedding with his guitar, working on sounds and parts. I read quite a bit and I'm one of those people who carries a notebook. Sometimes I even write in it.
We had time on this record to experiment. Between recording sessions we experimented with delay pedals and Rheem organ. Johnny had Moogerfoogers and some weird old vintage trinkets in the studio that came in handy. When recording and given several options we went with what was “wrong”.
You’ve been coy about not wanting to say how long you’ve been together as a band, but you’ve said it’s “long enough to order a whiskey straight up from any bar in Canada.” What lessons have you learned as a band in that length of time and how have they informed your approach to this record?
Destroy The Sun is the first record where I made a conscious effort to let someone else (Johnny Sangster) produce us and tell us what to do once we hit the studio. I think that was a good move. So I stopped trying to control so many things. Let others do stuff. Letting go of being a control freak is hard but so much better. I'm still trying to do that more. So the lesson I learned was 'Trust the process’, trust the people you've got in your band. Also, a balance needs to be struck between not rushing things and not wasting time.
While we’re at it, what drink do you think pairs best with the new album? (Bonus points if it’s extra Canadian.)
Like Lemmy, I recently switched from Brown to Clear for health reasons.
Given the album title, what do you think would be the most interesting way to “destroy the sun?” Or how would you go about it?
How about the most certain way? The most certain way would be to let Amazon move there and build a bunch of soulless glass towers all over it to house their HQ3 expansion. Let them build and build with no restraint or concern for the locals, serving only it's own self interest until no light can escape and the whole solar system collapses into entropic heat death.
What’s next for the band? Are already you working on new material? Plans for a tour?
We are always working on more songs. In a couple months we're packing up the van and heading out for a bit of touring. I'll probably let someone else drive the van this time...
RIYL: The Black Angels, Jesus and The Mary Chain, Spiritualized
It’s no secret that we love a great tune that mixes eerie, spine-chilling atmospherics with even more gripping storytelling. As such, it should be no surprise that we were immediately enchanted by “Late Night Distrubance”, the brand new single from the underrated Seattle rockers, The Purrs.
The track is brilliant. There is no other way to describe the tune. It combines the psychedelic wonderlands of The Black Angels with the alternate realities that Spiritualized have perfected in their storytelling. The intro sets the stage for the “Late Night Disturbance”, as the chiming guitar opens eyes and grabs everyone’s attention. When the rhythms emerge, the suspense builds, and you’re permanently engaged. This is the sound of a dystopian world, where everything is about to change. Where everything has changed, as in this authoritarian place “it is open season on us again”. Maybe this isn’t so much an alternate reality, but it is reality. It is the life that many people live today across the world, including in the country that prides itself as the “land of the free” and the “land of opportunity”.
The band consists of Jima (bass/vocals), Jason Milne (guitar/backing vocals), Liz Herrin (guitar/backing vocals), Dusty Hayes (drums/backing vocals).
. -- BEN YOUNG
March 26 2014
There was a moment in my conversation with Jima, frontman of Seattle band the Purrs, when I expressed how inadequate it is to simply call the Purrs a psychedelic indie rock band. While that might be ultimately accurate, it just doesn't quite do justice to what the band does. Let's take a moment, for instance, to consider the bands that the Purrs have shared stages with: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pearl Jam and Okkervil River, just to name three markedly disparate acts. The Purrs are able to drift among scenes in a manner befitting of their intangible sound.
"I don't think it does a band very much good to just play with bands in your own genre," says Jima. "You're not going to ever be exposed to new sounds, and you're not going to be exposing your band to new people."
While the Purrs certainly do adorn their songs with psychedelic fringe, there are deeper ingrained layers of influences at play, here. On the top level, British post-punk is what most readily pops out, inspiring the comparisons the band has long received to bands such as the Church and Echo and the Bunnymen. Comparisons to the Verve are reductive, but somewhat accurate in the way that the Purrs similarly mine classic rock for inspiration - picking up heavy blues, mod attitude and bright jangle along the way. Meanwhile, the spirit of Tommy James and the Shondells lingers in the background.
Psych rock may not define the Purrs, but the psych that skirts the edges lends a woozy appeal to their music. In the end, maybe it's best to just throw up your hands and say what the Purrs really are: a damn good rock band. -- REV. ADAM McKINNEY
March 20 2014
Purrs Promise New Songs!
Seattle psych-pop outfit the Purrs are headed to Tacoma to share a bill with local favorites Trees and Timber and People Under the Sun on Saturday night at the New Frontier Lounge.
Last summer, Fin Records delivered the quartet's "The Boy with Astronaut Eyes,"among the best regional recordings of 2013. This weekend, the band will showcase a few things they've been working on since.
Lead guitarist Jason Milne and singer-bassist Jim Antonio, the band's primary songwriter, checked in to give us the skinny. Here's some of what they had to say.
Read the full interview here:
January 14 2014
Best of 2013
The Purrs deliver again with another hallucinogenic masterpiece. Guitars swoop and dive in and out while singer and bassist Jima takes you on a ride in a derailed monorail to some seedy interstellar locale. The perfect soundtrack to navigating globular clusters.
The fact that this month the Purrs are releasing their seventh full-length album might lead one to believe that the band hails from the ’90s era of psychedelic rock that gave us the Dandy Warhols, The Verve, and Brian Jonestown Massacre, and its sound—spacey dueling guitars hugging the leader’s bratty vocals—fits in nicely with that contingent. Yet the Seattle band is simply prolific; its first six titles came in a six-year span. The Boy With Astronaut Eyes, the band’s perfectly titled latest, arrives after an unlikely three-year breather and finds the band more aggressive and powerful than in the past. That might be thanks to new mate Liz Herrin, who plays a mean rhythm guitar and adds harmonies and some back-and-forth vocals to those of guitarist Jason Milne and bassist Jima—or maybe it’s just because the band’s angst has been building over those three interminable years. - MARK BAUMGARTEN