THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART INTERVIEW
Here, on mopinion.ru, I prefer to do personal interviews with real-life conversations. This one is exception. In December 2016, I wrote an e-mail to Kip Berman to clear out the details for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s discography review . An explicit character of the answers made me realize, that I cannot leave this text for individual use – as far as the main article is in Russian, I just ought to publish this correspondence for English-reading fan base.
Let’s start from the band’s live activity. How many times did you play this year – I mean the whole line-up of four?
Kip: In 2016 we only played one concert in New York for the 10 year anniversary of our US Press Agent's company, "Force Field PR." We performed with The Blow, Guerilla Toss and a solo set from Real Estate. At that show we played a cover of "Daniel" by Elton John, because our press agent's name is Daniel Gill. We also covered Queen + David Bowie "Under Pressure" and were joined on stage by a guest vocalist, Teenie Lieberson from the New York band TEEN.
Last year you planned the gigs in Australia. Did it happened or were they cancelled?
Kip: We did hope to tour Australia following the release of Days of Abandon, but we weren't able to. The gigs weren't cancelled, as we never confirmed the gigs or accepted the offers - our booking agent was just talking to some promoters about the idea. It was going to be a difficult time for the band to tour the region at that time, so we decided to postpone that until our next album.
As far as The Days of Abandon is concerned, how did it turn out that Slumberland didn’t release that album?
Kip: Slumberland released our first album, Higher Than the Stars EP and the 7" singles from that era (all the singles from the first LP and "Say No to Love/Lost Saint" etc). They also released our Magnetic Fields/East River Pipe cover 7" in 2012 (I think). The second album, Belong, was a partnership with Slumberland and The Collective in the US, and it was mostly The Collective that handled the day to day of releasing and promoting the record, just because they had more resources. Slumberland helped with the layout/design of the record and created a lithograph that was given away for pre-orders at indie record stores. I don't know how else to say it, but the promotional work for that one was just a bit much for Slumberland (who is really just one person) to handle and Slumberland needed the help of a larger label to make it happen. Mike was totally cool with it, so there wasn't any kind of bad feeling at all. But our relationship with Slumberland is still great, and I'm in touch with Mike Schulman all the time. We'll likely do some future releases with him if possible.
And where did Yebo music deal originate from?
Kip: The Yebo deal came about because someone at EMI left that company and started a new independent label and was interested in having us as their first release. Also, our deal with The Collective had expired, so we were free to make a decision with who would release the new album.
I beg your pardon for touching this sad theme, but still. What was the reason of the first line-up disbanding? Peggy got editorial director position and is that all? Why did Alex and Kurt leave as well? Are you still in touch with Peggy and Alex?
Kip: It's totally fine to ask about all that, it's not a sad thing at all. We're all good friends, and their decision to leave the band was really in both their best interest and the band's. Peggy and Alex left so they could focus more on their lives outside of music – both had jobs and the time commitment to the band was too much to balance. Kurt left to pursue professional sound design, music production and engineering. His interests were far more focused on studio work and writing music than traveling and performing live. He's an exceptionally talented artist in his own right, and the time commitment of playing in The Pains of Being Pure at Heart prevented him from doing the artistic and professional things he wanted to do. But I've since recorded with him and we've worked on things together, and we're good friends. And of course I'm still good friends and pretty frequently in touch with Alex and Peggy too. Sadly Alex lives in Los Angeles now, so I don't see him that often.
It's always hard to explain this in a way that people outside of music can understand, but what those people wanted out of music was different than my hopes for the band = and that's totally fine. Most people don't want their lives to be all music . Peggy and Alex love music, but for them it's something they want to do in their free time, and they have other things they want to do with their life. They are deeply intelligent and kind people who are capable of so much. Kurt is a genuine artist in his own right – The Depreciation Guild was a great band, and his new band, The Ice Choir is fantastic too. It was hard for him to be in a band that took him away from his own artistic ambitions as both a songwriter and a producer/engineer.
So I'm grateful that they helped me so much at the beginning and for generally just being wonderful people in my life. But now I am equally grateful that I've found other friends who happen to be great musicians to help make the songs I even better than I could on my own. Christoph Hochheim has been in the band since our first album came out in 2009, and his twin brother Anton Hochheim is an incredible drummer and an equally lovely person. He actually toured with us around that time when we were on the road with Depreciation Guild, so he was certainly no stranger to Pains. They have another band together called Ablebody that showcases Christoph's writing – they're really good and just put out their debut "Adult Contemporaries" on Lolipop Records this year. Jacob was my friend and a fan of Pains early on and played in a band I loved called Dream Diary (we even did shows together). So it felt natural that he was keen to join me starting in 2013. And Jess Weiss has her own amazing band Fear of Men where she's the primary songwriter and a real visionary, but she has also been an awesome collaborator, doing the majority of Days of Abandon touring and I hope will be able to join us on our new record, as she works on writing and recording Fear of Men's new music.
How many gigs did you play in 2013 – only February ones or more? Was there a tour across the USA and France in September 2013?
Kip: I believe our only 2013 gig was the inaugural Indiepop Prom, we performed in Brooklyn at 285 Kent (w/ Pottymouth, Swearin, Weedhounds, and Waxahatchee).
Going deeper into history. Why you didn’t include Contender and A Teenager In Love in The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart ÅÐ-2007? Were those songs recorded at that time?
Kip: Those songs were written when we did our first EP in 2007. There is an earlier version of A Teenager In Love on the "What's All the Fuzz About" [Cloudberry Records] compilation) that was also up on our myspace for a while that a friend of mine still likes more than the album version. I guess the EP centered on songs where I could program the drum machine, as we didn't have a drummer at that point. Songs like Come Saturday and A Teenager in Love were written, but required a live drummer to record them properly – something we didn't have until Kurt Feldman joined the band.
I’d like to focus on some rare songs. The situation with Gothenburg Handshake is clear, but what year was Happy (Yo Gabba Gabba! TV series soundtrack) recorded?
Kip: I can't entirely remember, but it was mostly recorded with James Brown who also engineered Say No to Love/Lost Saint single and Belong. I imagine it was sometime in middle 2010.
There are two titles you mentioned in your interviews: Run Away (2009) and Your Filthy Hand In Mine (2012). Do they exist?
Kip: We recorded Your Filthy Hand In Mine for Days of Abandon, but it didn't turn out well enough for album inclusion and was never even mixed. As for Run Away, I don't think this song is real, or maybe it was typed into the database incorrectly.
Due to setlist.fm, you once played Seeing Other Girls (July 18, 2010 at Latitude Festival 2010). Any ideas of what song it may be?
Kip: I think this must be a then-unreleased version of "Girl of 1,000 Dreams" as we've never written a song called "Seeing Other Girls" but may have played "Girl Of 1,000 Dreams" at Latitude Festival, as we had just been in the studio recording that song around that time.
Please, add some more rare stuff.
Kip: There’s Sure (demo of "Simple and Sure") on "Indiepop Lesson" – a Japanese indiepop compilation released by Violet + Claire.
We've covered The Ramones "Don't Go" (appeared on a compilation on Precordial Catch Records).
Then again, we did play a song I can't even remember on our very short 2007 tour to Athens Popfest - it was called "Fight On" – but I have no real memory of it other than the title. Obviously it wasn't very good... ha.
© V. Piniaev 29.12.2016