The Brooklyn indiepop band are about to finish their large tour and found some time to talk with us about how the whole tour has been, their experiences and how’s life in their famous neighborhood.
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart released their second album last year and will now have some rest before getting into the studio to record the 3rd LP.
ROCKAST talk with singer Kip Berman right after their last shows in Spain. This is what he told us:
How is the Tour going so far? Is it over or are you still planning an extra leg somewhere?
It’s all finished. We’re playing a Christmas show in New York, but aside from that there’s nothing planned except working on new songs and recording.
You started playing in Birthday parties and just after few years and only with 2 albums and an EP released, you have pretty much played all over the world. Europe, Japan, Malaysia, Brazil China… Was that huge change or did you see it coming?
It’s actually been nearly 6 years that we’ve been playing as a band. Peggy’s birthday party was March of 2007, and we formed a couple months before that.
I don’t know how to say how thoroughly unexpected even playing a show outside of New York was for us. I don’t take anything for granted, as most of the bands I grew up admiring never really got much attention or got that far out of their hometown. I hope we get to keep being a band and making records, it’s all I want out of life.
I read somewhere that you were working in a call-centre before starting the band. When was the moment you realize that you were going to follow other path?
Kip: Well, I did work at a call center out, but I had another job when I started the band. I got fired right before our first real tour (supporting The Wedding Present) so I didn’t really have much of a choice. I had no job, no prospects, no other option than to try to play music and exist that way.
“Maybe people think I walk around in a cardigan all the time crying in my tea.”
How do you think the listeners or fans feel your music? I mean, at the end of the day, do you think your music it’s seen like an escape from routines or hectic big city life?
Kip: That’s a good question. I don’t know how the people who listen to our music feel about it, or what it means to them. To me, our music feels like the opposite of escape. It’s very much connected to the things I’ve lived and the things I’ve felt.
I’m pretty sure you’ve been labelled or stereotyped a lot within the last 3 years. But which one was the most original or the weirdest one?
Kip: Maybe people think I walk around in a cardigan all the time crying in my tea? I mean, I’m drinking some tea right now, but my sweater is crewneck and I am far from tears.
I must admit that your debut album was like an instant classic since the 1st time I heard it. Many people thought it wasn’t possible to make a second album as good as the 1st one, but you did it. Is there any pressure for the 3rd one? Do you already know how would you like it to sound?
Kip: Thank you very much. Well, I’m glad you think what we’ve done is worthwhile. But I don’t think we’ve really put it all together yet. Classics can never really be instant – it requires time to reflect and see if a record sounds good in 10 years, in 20 years. I don’t know if anyone will even care about us next year, let alone that far in the future.
As for the next record, we haven’t started recording it yet so it seems to soon to say what it will sound like. Every band eventually says “our new record is our best record,” which sounds like a stale sort of publicity statement. But we’ll probably say something like that at some point, so pardon the hypocrisy. Hopefully it’ll be true.
“There are no cons, only pros. I wake up and get to be in the band of my dreams every day”
Alan Moulder (Depeche Mode,The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentince) and Flood (U2, Nick Cave, Smashing Pumpkins) produced Belong. How was the experience of working with such a big names? How do they work?
They work hard, but still have fun, make jokes and all that. It’s probably the same as anyone else who is committed their life to making records. The reason their names are big is that they’re really talented at what they do and have worked with lot of great bands. But they are not arrogant or jerks or anything like that. I think it’s a good lesson to learn for a young band. People that are really good at what they do, don’t walk around and shove it in your face all the time. I’m really grateful we got to work with those guys, it was a special time for sure.
Could you tell me the pros and cons of being in TPOBPAH?
There are no cons, only pros. I wake up and get to be in the band of my dreams every day. I can’t think of a better life than that, there’s nothing I’d rather do.
There’s no doubt Brooklyn is one-of-a-kind and every year there is loads of good music coming out of there, and many bands pushing to be the best one. Does the fact of being from Brooklyn help somehow to be a better band? as Brooklyn neighbour, what are your impressions?
Brooklyn is wonderful because it forces you to do your best just to survive. If you want any attention or recognition, you have to really focus and make your work the best it can be. It’s not really competitive – we love lots of other bands that live here, but it does compel you to make something that’s remarkable, something out of the ordinary.
As for living here, it’s wonderful because you get to see so many great bands all the time. If you’re a fan of music, there’s never a night where there isn’t something happening. Plus, when bands tour the US they usually don’t skip New York, so there’s always the opportunity to see bands from all over the country and world.
What’s the best Brooklyn act you’ve listened to lately?
I love Cults a lot, they’re cool. Kurt’s new band, The Ice Choir is really fantastic as well. My Teenage Stride, The Secret History and Hooray For Earth are really good and pretty underrated (at least in my view). Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls are great, as are Twin Shadow, Violens, Beach Fossils and Twin Sister. There’s so much great stuff here, I feel pretty lucky just to see these bands play so often.
“All the marketing in the world can’t make someone like something that isn’t good.”
You’ve played all over the world and in many festivals also. What’s the best thing you’re learning?
There’s no quick path to success, or at least for us it’s a slow thing. I don’t know if it even ends in a good way, but you just have to stay true to the things you care about and make music you believe in. I know that sounds like a cliche, but to me there’s no other way.
I’ve seen you guys 4 times already, and I always manage to bring new people with me as they never get disappointed whenever they discover your music. Do you believe in the word-of-mouth or is the internet these days the best way to get attention?
Well, the best way to get attention is to do something worthy of attention. All the marketing in the world can’t make someone like something that isn’t good. I find out about bands a lot from my friends recommendations, so I think that’s a good way. But there’s also so much you can learn about music through the internet, and I’ve certainly found out a lot about new or old bands from mp3 blogs or a site like Allmusic.
I know you’ve visited Spain many times, Did you get to listen any Spanish music by any chance?
Tachenko! We love Sergio so much, he’s the coolest. We’ve also played with Odio Paris and Los Dolores last time we were in Spain. We were also fans of the band Aias and Le Mans, though I don’t think either of those are still around.
Which band or artist or would you like to share stage with?
T-Rex, The Pastels, Huggy Bear and Felt.
Any projects for next year? Is there any particular goal in your mind?
I just want to make a record. Hopefully we will.
Last question… Are you happy?
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong (2011, PIAS/Fortuna Pop!)