Pure Bathing Culture: "We finally have our heads above water"


  • Photo by Parker Fitzgerald

Portland dream-pop duo Pure Bathing Culture is creating quite a stir on the good ol' interweb lately, for mixed reasons. The band's debut full-length, Moon Tides, is a hazy folk-pop record that seems to embody the mood of a shimmery summertime evening; plenty of critics pass it off as a Beach House rip-off.

On the surface, there are plenty of similarities to that other dream-pop duo - but the surface is pretty much the end of it. Daniel Hindman and Sarah Verspille drop little hints of Laurel Canyon folk along with gauzy early '80s synths into Moon Tides. Verspille's vocals are featherlight; her voice seems to follow you around, rising airily above the electronics. For a first effort, Moon Tides has plenty of merit on its own.

Ahead of Pure Bathing Culture's show at RecordBar this Wednesday, The Pitch dialed up Hindman to talk about the record and what's next for the band.

The Pitch: How is the tour going so far?

Hindman: Tour's great. It's long. It's the longest tour we've done as a band, and I think that's been really great for us. It's helped us to sort of open up in new ways, and it's been really fun playing every night. We're just excited to be playing to these last few shows.

Moon Tides is your debut record. Are you satisfied with it? Are you happy with how it's turned out?

Yeah. We are happy with how it turned out. I think it's maybe not common for people to listen to their album a ton after it comes out, but I listened to it in a radio session we were doing the other day and I was really proud of it. It was recorded really quickly, and I think that's something that'll change about the next record. But I think the record is a really honest expression of where we were at a point in time.

As you're out and performing these songs live, has anything surprised you about them?

Even the way the music fills up the space of the room versus recording it, it's such a different experience. I think playing live, you want to push more energy to the audience, whereas when you're recording something, you'll play for the sound alone.

You and Sarah were involved in other bands and projects before you started Pure Bathing Culture. How did you guys decide to work together?

Looking backwards, I guess Moon Tides is really our first full-length record, and it's a culmination of a few different things. It's a continuation of our first EP, not really a departure, and it signifies when we first started going full speed ahead with the band. We started writing songs together in 2010, but it was just songs here and there, not really enough to make a record. Then, in 2011, we were writing a bit more together, but it wasn't really until 2012 that we were moving faster and doing the EP. Now, here we are with the full length.

Do you guys have plans for new material yet?

It's really in a fragmented state right now, but we're really focused. We came out of that last record and feel like we finally have our heads above water as far as understanding how we work as a songwriting team, and now we're just excited to take things further. I think the new album will come together over the next year.

What is your songwriting partnership like? How does it work?

Usually, I'll start the process and bring something to share and bounce off her [Versprille], and then we'll finish the song together. There's not much to how it works. Only being two of us, there's a ton of space for ideas. We don't really step on each other's toes.

Critics are very fond of comparing your sound to Beach House. Are you bothered by those comparisons?

Well ... we don't like the comparisons. It's often used in negative reviews. Not all reviews... . I believe it's the way that people who don't like the record find a quick and effective way to write it off. I don't think our music sounds like Beach House's music at all, so we don't agree with that comparison. I think it's hard, because people are looking for a mechanism to express something, and I think if someone wants to write negative stuff, they will write clichés.

I mean, I think Beach House has had such an amazing couple of years. Actually, when we played in Baltimore, I talked to Alex [Scally, of Beach House] backstage, and Alex also agreed that we didn't sound alike, so that was interesting. People are going to say what they're going to say.

It's interesting. I was talking to our publicist over at Partisan Records, and I'm pretty sure for the next record I don't want to have any press pictures. I think it's a bummer when the concept of an image of a band is more interesting than the music. People were like, "Oh, boy-girl duo, trying to rip off Beach House." It's a shame, because every band gets press photos done and every band has to have a cover, and it's a shame when the music that people are making becomes not the thing that people are talking about.

Pure Bathing Culture at RecordBar on Wednesday, November 13. Details here

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