Listening to psychedelic pop band Pure X‘s new album, Crawling Up The Stairs, is pure ecstasy.
Whether inducing orgasms or weaving hypnotic spells over their audience, Pure X’s noise-sound is as undeniably dreamy and addictive as any drug. Here guitarist/vocalist Nate Grace goes deep and divulges why Crawling Up the Stairs, the band’s new, profoundly personal album, took two years to finish. As with any intensely crafted, long-desired labor of love, it was totally worth the wait.
Describe the band’s music in five words?
Atmospheric, unconscious, inter-dimensional sound-realities… Forever.
Do you consider yourself a member of the psychedelic pop scene in Austin?
I wouldn’t call myself a typical psychedelic rocker. My music scene are people I’ve been jamming with for ten-plus years, like Survive, Silent Diane, Troller, and Thousand Foot Wave Claw.
What’s the story behind the band name?
Our original name was Pure Ecstasy but we had to change it because of copyright infringement laws. Everyone was already calling us Pure X anyways.
Can you name some musical influences?
Everyone in the band is a little different, but we’re all influenced by golden-era country music, dudes like Townes Van Zandt, Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. Also, a lot of ambient music.
Tell us a bit about the new album.
I’m really excited about it; we spent almost two years on it.
Why did it take so long?
A big factor was that I injured my knee badly. Because I was laid up for so long, we had nothing more to do than to nitpick every single little detail. Now the sound is a crystalline, magic thing unto itself.
How is it different from your previous albums?
Jessie sings more, there are a lot more diverse and upbeat songs. The production is a lot better. It’s mostly due to this old Nashville guy with nine Grammys, who is a straight-up genius. He came in and helped us with the mixing and mastering. The last album was done more on the fly, we didn’t have the same level of craftsmanship then. This time we often pieced songs together in the studio. We’ve also become better musicians.
Where did the new material for your songs come from?
Like I said, I went through that shit with my knee, not knowing if I would ever walk again. Everyone in the band had problems at the time, so it got mixed up and reflected in the music. The new album is about diving down, real deep, then coming up and ending on a high note. It’s a complicated beast that reflects the lessons and changes that we’ve been taught over the last few years. People will listen to it on repeat to digest it; it’s like eating a heavy meal.
Does your music have a spiritual dimension to it? Are you religious?
No, but I was brought up with a very religious background. My father was a preacher, and so was my grandpa, uncle, and stepmum…
Which is your favourite song on the new album, and why?
The last song, ‘All the Future/All the Past’. Because it starts one way but ends in a completely other way, but came together beautifully and easily. It encapsulates the whole album in one song.
Any non-musical influences?
Carl Jung’s The Undiscovered Self, which blew my mind off its hinges. I’m into the idea of the unconscious speaking through dreams, music.
Are you trying to produce a similarly altered mind-state in the audience?
Once a guy came up to me after a show and told me that it had literally put him into a physical trance, where he lost all concept of time, space, even his own body, and started passing out. I wouldn’t call what we do casting spells, but when we are tapped in, when we are IN it, then the crowd is transformed like alchemy. You take their energy, put it through us, and something changes the whole atmosphere, ideally.
Is it similar to the effects of taking psychedelic drugs?
It’s like an orgasm, in that its a loss of self. It happens naturally in a show if things are going the way they should.
Pure X’s new LP , Crawling Up the Stairs (Acephale/Merok) will be released 14th May.
Words: Christine Jun (Follow Christine on Twitter @christinecocoj)