The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Bill Cummings 23/11/2008

Fresh out of New York city and armed with only four chords, the wonderfully named four piece, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, are lifting spirits this winter making us swoon for by gone days with their scuffy indie pop sound. These 'perpetual teens' creatively join the dots between C86, the shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine and latter day indie torch-holders Belle & Sebastian and Teenage Fanclub. Their rather fine new single Everything With You is out now and they're coming over to tour with The Wedding Present in the UK this December. So GIITTV's Bill Cummings and Fliss Collier thought what better time to catch up with the band's co vocalist and guitarist Kip Berman for a few words…

Hey, hows things?

Things are great! Thanks for asking!

How did Pains.... form, was it really to play as a birthday party band?

Yeah, it's totally true. Peggy and I were big fans of The Manhattan Love Suicides first LP, and when we saw they were coming to New York, we wanted to set up a show for them. This coincided with Peggy's birthday, so we thought it would be cool to learn some songs and sneak onto the bill. It was held at a big warehouse in Brooklyn and the party got more out of hand then we expected—which was pretty awesome. Any additional memories of that night are now lost…

Are you excited to be coming to the UK to support the Wedding present?Are you fans of the band? What's your favourite Wedding Present album?

Watusi, is my favorite. But honestly, they're so consistently good that to choose just one of their albums doesn't do them justice. Getting the opportunity to do this tour with them is just almost too great to be true. I know bands throw around terms like "honored" and "dream come true" really lightly—but we super mean it to say that this is probably the best and coolest thing we've gotten to do, and sort of unfathomable when we were playing at Peggy's birthday party a year and a half ago.

You've been signed to Slumberland Records, that's exciting, they're a quality label. Are you a fan of the bands they've put out over the years, who are favourites? How do you feel Pains... fit in?

First, to be fair, our album in the UK will come out on Fortuna Pop (who are also really awesome!)—Slumberland is our US label.

But yeah-- we are HUGE Slumberland fans!!! Seriously, to be putting out our record with them is just amazing. Rocketship, Velocity Girl/Black Tambourine, The Aislers Set—they have such a remarkable history and a definite aesthetic-- to be part of that is amazing. And now they're putting out a new generation of bands I'm really into, like Crystal Stilts, Sexy Kids, caUSE co-MOTION! —it's just a perfect fit for our noisy pop sound and it's an honor that Mike Slumberland believes in us the way he does.

Which band's would you pinpoint as an influence for Pains...?

First off, we're all huge record nerds, so it's really hard to identify that without leaving someone totally deserving out. But I think the idea of being in a band with your best friends is the most influential idea for us. There are bands that we like the sound of—early Teenage Fanclub, The Pastels, Rocketship and Velocity Girl. But honestly, it's more a set of principals that the best music is made by the best friends— we believe in that completely..

What's the inspiration behind the song Kurt Cobain's Cardigan? Have you seen the recent Kurt Cobain documentary based on unreleased(till now) interview tapes? If not I recommend it.

Kurt Cobain is infinitely cool, and the bands he championed when he was famous were definitely stuff me and my friends checked out when we were 14, 15—that really influential age. The one that to this day I love the most was The Vaselines, so the song sort of sounds like The Vaselines. I admire how Nirvana was influenced by pop bands like that and used their celebrity to champion stuff that might not otherwise get the attention it deserved. So thank you Kurt Cobain—you're cool forever and ever.

I haven't seen the documentary—but honestly, the most important thing to me is the music that he made— and I like my vision of him to remain that of an awestruck 15 year old who looked up to him as heroically perfect. I don't want to lose that…

Some people think it's too soon for a C86 revival, how do you feel to be classed as C86? Do you consciously think of yourselves as C86 style?

I don't know a lot about C86 honestly. I like that song "Velocity Girl" by Primal Scream and The Jesus and Mary Chain were remarkably cool—but I kind of think we're not in that school so much… I think in 1986 I was listening to my mom listening to Prince.

What do you think about retrospective C86/twee indie club nights, such as Twee as F*ck? You've played at least once for them, how did you find it? Is that kind of culture more popular over in the UK than in the US?

The music they play is great—that kind of stuff really doesn't exist in the US. So to think there are kids in London dancing to Orange Juice and Shop Assistants is almost surreal! While I think it's super important to perpetually acknowledge all the great bands that came before us, I also think (and I know Twee As Fuck does too) that pop music and club nights should focus on what's happening right now. There are so many amazing bands that deserve to be heard. Ringo Deathstarr, Crystal Stilts, Titus Andronicus, A Sunny Day in Glasgow or Sexy Kids—there's nothing I like more than hearing a new great song played at 4 times the volume of my home stereo and a huge crowd getting into it.

When you formed you could only play four chords - these days you're a mega live prospect and really professional, how has the learning curve and progression been?

Um, we can still only play 4 chords—we're just good at switching them around so no one catches on...

When you do something like play music with your best friends—it never feels like work. It's always exciting to learn new songs, or record or work things out— I honestly think we're not all that super pro, but we care so much about what we do that we spend a lot of time trying to make things as best as they can be. We're flattered that you think we're a "mega live prospect"—but honestly, we're just hoping to not embarrass ourselves when we open for The Wedding Present.

What would your advice be to people who want to form bands but are still learning or perhaps struggling?

Only play with people you'd be cool with being stuck in a car for 8 hours with. That's the most important thing—being with your friends! Still learning and struggling never really stops— nor should it. But so long as you're with people you really enjoy being with, it all feels worthwhile.

You describe yourselves as perpetual teens, do you think its important to retain that energy and naivety when you're in a band?

Yeah! Who wants to go out and see some sad businessmen staring at their feet??? You can see that at a bus stop or on the subway.

Can you tell us a bit about your album due out in Feb?Do you have a title yet, will it contain older songs or mainly new?

Our album is self-titled, mainly because Peggy wanted to call it "cumming of age" but that title had been taken by a series of pornos—not surprisingly. All 10 of the songs on the album are new recordings, though a handful in alternate versions have appeared on a split 7" and our self-released and more or less out of print EP. I don't think it's right to speak well of your own recordings really-- that's for listeners to decide—but we're all so excited to finally see the LP—to hold it and just feel like "Wow, we made a record!" I mean, it's just so—real.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Thank you!

The band's new single "Everything With You" is out on Fortuna Pop! in the UK. Their debut album is due out in February 09. You can see The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart on the following dates supporting The Wedding Present:

Dec. 2 - Colchester, UK - Arts Center*
Dec. 3 - Portsmouth, UK - Wedgewood Rooms*
Dec. 4 - Oxford, UK - Academy*
Dec. 5 - Leicester, UK - Princess Charlotte*
Dec. 6 - Manchester, UK - Academy*
Dec. 8 - Cork, IRL - Pavillion*
Dec. 9 - Dublin, IRL - Andrews Lane Theatre*
Dec. 10 - Belfast, UK - Limelight*
Dec. 12 -Glasgow, UK - Captains Rest
Dec. 13 - Leeds, UK - The Cockpit
Dec. 14 - Nottingham, UK - The Social
Dec. 15 - TBD Dec.
16 - London, UK - “Twee as Fuck” @Old Blue Last
Dec. 17 - London, UK - TBD
Dec. 18 - London, UK - Forum*

* with The Wedding Present