It’s probably fair to say that no-one has released a single on cassette (Google it if you’re under the age of 25) since about 1995, but London-based electro rockers PURS are defying the modern digital age.
The funky synthy rock band will be releasing two new singles, Girl In Love and Crush, on limited edition cassette at the Independent Label Market in Old Spitalfields Market on November 26th through Blak Hand Records. But that fact alone is not where the intrigue ends with PURS.
The five-piece of Serra Petale (guitar and vocals), Andy Becker (lead guitar, vocals and producer), Chris Prosho (guitar, synth and producer), Mandi Goodier (bass) and Mattias Bhatt (drums) joined forces this year and aptly describe their sound as “distorted shoegaze outros.”
We spoke to former drummer turned lead singer Serra this week to find out more about PURS and first asked her about how the band came together, given that she is Australian and drummer Matthias is Swedish.
Serra said: “PURS initially began as a recording project from Andy. Chris, who had just moved in with me, showed me some tracks that they had been working on and as soon as I heard it I knew I wanted to be involved with it. So the three of us just started recording and writing together, which was a great experience seeing as Andy and Chris are absolute masters at rock production, and I learnt a lot of things as a vocalist after being behind the drums for so many years.
“The next step obviously was to take things live, so we were lucky enough to have Mattias step up to the drums. I’d known him from Kid Wave (Heavenly Recordings), he was playing guitar in that project so it was pretty cool to be able to swap things around and to see him behind the drums. He definitely brings a great energy, especially with his epic 80’s metal style drumming (he’s a huge Iron Maiden fan), which of course we try to use as much as possible.
“Mandi is a friend of Andy’s from up north and joined the band earlier this year. This is her first project playing bass, which totally surprised me when she came into jam at our studio in Manor House, because as soon as we had played through a few songs, it felt like she had always been a part of the project and you could really feel a great gel between her and Mattias’s playing.”
Given Serra’s description above – a drummer on vocals and guitars, guitarist on drums and a debut bassist – PURS sounds like a whole host of people playing instruments they’ve not been used previously, but somehow they not only make it work but sound great.
Surround is a superb example of this, with funky guitar riffs, random bursts of synth and rocky drums supporting Serra’s deliciously inviting vocals – not bad for a reformed drummer eh? This is supported by PURS’ excellent, atmospheric cover of Autolux’s Here Comes Everybody. Check out the cool video for Surround below:
Serra told us: “It’s so great to be a part of this project, and the best thing is how much fun it is to rehearse, play shows or even have our ridiculous 80’s metal / reggae / shoegaze jams at our studio.
“We are still at the early stages of our project, but we just want to keep putting out music that we love and getting it out there to as many people as possible. Going back to our home towns and touring the project would be an absolute dream but our next steps are definitely to record an album and follow through with smashing some festivals. Ultimately it’s just about enjoying ourselves and seeing where things can take us.”
Listening to their music it’s clear they’ve been heavily influenced by alternative music from the early 90s, like Sonic Youth and Smashing Pumpkins, but there’s a heavier edge beneath their brand of synthy alternative rock.
Serra said: “Our lyrics are quite ambiguous, and I guess key themes so far include the usual, relationships, lust, love heartbreak. We tend to focus on the music and melody for the most part. For us it’s about developing our sound as a band, we’re interested in a juxtaposition of simple song structures and complex soundscapes.
“We all grew up listening to 90’s alt rock, for us it was the golden era of guitar music: progressive and exciting. That’s a feeling we’re trying to capture with this project, although we are very focused on creating a forward facing sound and not interested in being a retro 90’s throwback band. Right now we are all so psyched for the Phil Colins comeback tour, so I’m sure that’s bound to creep into our next few tracks. Hopefully we can combine that with mine and Mattias’s 80’s hair metal obsession.”
I’m generally intrigued by PURS. Their music is really cool and fun, almost hippy-ish, but they also seem like a really interesting group of people, as evidenced by their take on the music industry and their approach to promoting their emerging band.
Serra explained: “There’s a lot we could say about the music industry, but the bottom line is it’s easier for new bands to get their music heard than ever before. There are so many sites and blogs championing new music and with social media you can reach thousands of potential fans instantly.
“We’re interested in DIY culture, which is one of the reasons we’re releasing our first single with Blak Hand Records on cassette this month. For us music is more than listening to a Spotify playlist at home, although there is nothing wrong with that. It’s about getting to record shops and gigs and markets, socialising and supporting other artists and labels.
Amen to that. PURS have three more gigs coming up before the end of the year, at The Finsbury in Manor House on Saturday (November 12th), The Victoria in Dalston on November 29th and New River Studios in Manor House on December 20th.