Hype, Retro wave, back to the roots – whatever one might name the ongoing tendency towards low-fi productions, vintage equipment and a pleasant way of reducing music to the essentials. Lessening their own possibilities, so to speak, many a band maybe finds a more immediate approach to its own skills. Among those PURSON seem to stick out, not so much concerning the fact that the band is led by a woman – the, both incredibly young and talented Rosalie Cunningham – but far more with their sound. Specially this kind of genre holds many female musicians and names such as BLOOD CEREMONY, JEX THOTH, JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES, SPIDERS, ROYAL THUNDER and many more come to mind. All of those are associated with the Rock/Metal scene, while PURSON seem to inhabit their own alcove, full of 60s vibes and bright colours.
To talk about a current matter at first: You have just been on the road supporting ASTRA, but had to cancel quite a few dates, among them your participation at this years’ ROADBURN in Tilburg. Do you want to tell the reason(s) for this?
We had a wonderful time on the road with ASTRA and would have loved to have joined them on the rest of the tour but we simply couldn’t afford it. With van hire, hotels and everything, we would have lost so much money.
PURSON (l.t.r.): Samuel Shove – Organ, Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Justin Smith – Bass, Rosalie Cunningham – Vocals, Lead Guitar, Jack Hobbs – Drums, George Hudson – Guitars, Backing Vocals – Courtesy of Ester Segarra
Are there any plans so far to tour outside the UK in the near future?
We have a few things on the horizon but once again, that depends on how much we will be paid for the gigs. If we can’t cover our costs, we won’t be able to tour.
PURSON seems to be a band with a strong virtual concept – is this just my personal impression or do you actually plan in things like stage clothes, vinyl-colour ect?
We wear the same clothes on stage as we do off stage. We love to dress up, myself and Sam especially, and it’s part of the fun of being in a band for us. We get to live out our wildest wardrobe dreams as part of the job description! I think it’s important for the visual side to reflect the world we create with our music. The vinyl colour isn’t much to do with us… it’s something that Rise Above like to do.
Do you collect records and what do you think about this, let me call it, policy of Rise Above to publish things as very strictly limited editions that sell out so fast, most people won’t even be able to pre-order upcoming releases?!
I know that this policy upsets a lot of people and I have to agree, it doesn’t make much sense to me. I am not an avid collector, I have what I need. I am not concerned about having first pressings or a certain colour of vinyl. The music itself is far more important to me.
The Heavy Metal-scene has changed quite a bit during the last… I don’t know ten (?) years. There’s the heck of a lot of vintage sounding bands around right now. Do you think a band like PURSON could’ve been around ten years ago?
I was pretty much a child 10 years ago so I can’t say exactly. I have also never been involved in the heavy metal scene. I have liked certain heavy bands but have never considered myself part of any scene associated with it.
At best (or earliest) the 70s have been present in Heavy metal/hardrock music pretty much, but the 60s never seemed to be much of an issue – cept for HENDRIX – your sound (e.g. “Leaning On A Bear”) seems to have more of a 60s (pop) vibe than it’s common for bands outside the Garage-Punk-scene. How important is that period for you?
Debut album, “The Circle And The Blue Door” released 29th April 2013
This period is especially important for me in terms of songwriting. I was into 60’s pop before I was into anything heavier or prog. Bands like THE BEATLES, THE MOVE, THE SMALL FACES, THE KINKS and a lot of obscure pop psych bands are more of an influence for me and I will always appreciate a well crafted pop song more than any riff. I suppose that is what sets us apart from the other vintage sounding bands around.
There are two aspects about your music that might (judged from my experience as a record dealer) make it not that easy to sell your records to the average metal or even rock-fan; groove and female lead vocals in combination. A couple of buyers have already turned the single down when I recommended it to them. One reasoning it would be “too funky”.In my personal opinion the amount of shuffle is what makes the song cool. I love the short stop on the bass drum and hihhat during the chorus.
Would you consider Purson as being “funkier” than the average metal or rock band? And did soul music or jazz have any sort of influence on any individual in the band?
Haha, I’ve never thought of us as funky but I suppose compared to classic metal we are. We like to play with a bit of swing and groove which I think is quite typical of rock music… I mean BLACK SABBATH! They definitely have a jazzy feel sometimes, especially early stuff. I think the jazz influence comes more from things like that and other jazz-rock and prog rather than jazz itself, which I don’t really listen to.
Rosie Cunningham – Courtesy of Ester Segarra
(to Rosalie) You been referring to yourself as a ‘control freak’ several times. How far do you take that? And is that habit only related to music?
I’m pretty chilled out with everything else actually. The first album was made under very difficult circumstances and I was determined for it to turn out the way I had planned and so I did become a control freak there. I don’t compromise at all with my music. I do have a tendency to want to do everything myself but I’m slowly learning that it’s not how a band works…
Thanks a lot for this Interview – if there is anything else you want to send out into the universe, feel free to do so right now!
Not that I can think of right now…
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