Checking in with Pure Bathing Culture

This Saturday, April 2nd, Philly is hosting a lot of PHILTHY’s favorite musical friends, including Worriers at Boot & Saddle and Sleepy Kitty at MilkBoy, but there’s nothing we’re...

This Saturday, April 2nd, Philly is hosting a lot of PHILTHY’s favorite musical friends, including Worriers at Boot & Saddle and Sleepy Kitty at MilkBoy, but there’s nothing we’re more excited about than our good buddies Pure Bathing Culture, the Portland-based ethereal pop duo, who will be playing a sold out show at Union Transfer, supporting another one of our favorite indie pop outfits, Lucius, on their current tour.  Last month I got to catch up with Sarah Versprille, one-half of Pure Bathing Culture (alongside Daniel Hindman) for the first time in about a year and a half.  The band are currently touring behind their second LP, Pray for Rain, which dropped last Fall on Partisan.  During our recent chat, Sarah tells me that she and Daniel are not only super excited to be touring their latest record, which they feel is something new for them, but that they’re over the moon about being on the road with Lucius, one of their favorite artists as well.

“We’re huge fans of the band, and have been from the beginning.  We’ve known them for a while and are great friends.  Their live show is so inspiring and the music is so impactful.  Our very first show as Pure Bathing Culture was opening for Caveman and they were there as well.  We’re so thrilled to be on the road with them.  I can’t say enough good things about them.  It’s really cool to see how bands develop and change and their process, like we have with them.  It’s one of the most amazing and beautiful things about art in general.”

I ask what have been some of the highlights of Pure Bathing Culture since Fall of 2014, the last time we chatted, as they were preparing to hit the road supporting Tennis, and Sarah tells me that the new album stands out, but also that the opportunities it has afforded them have been quite significant: “We did our first, proper headlining tour and we’ve been having a lot of fun.  The LA show at the Echo was really awesome and the New York show at Baby’s All Right definitely stood out as well.”

Pure Bathing Culture’s debut LP, Moon Tides, which hit shelves in 2013, garnered quite a bit of critical acclaim (I characterized the album as, “essentially an ethereal wave gospel.”), but for Pray For Rain Sarah, Daniel, and producer John Congleton wanted something a little less easily pigeonholed as “dream pop.”: “The concept of recording Pray For Rain was really minimal.  There was a lot more layering on Moon Tides, but John pushed us to make something that was more immediate and impactful and it really informed our process and especially the live show – we don’t use a drum track anymore.”

I ask Sarah how she feels about the album and how it compares to Moon Tides and she tells me she enjoys the fact that the sound is something new: “I know it sounds a lot different from our EP and Moon Tides and I like to hear people’s reactions to that.”  I tell her that my own, personal favorite album track is “I Trace Your Symbol,” which I tell her reminds me of Chrissie Hynde fronting a ‘90s dream pop band, before asking the origins of the track.  She laughs, flattered: “That’s rad!  That’s one of the last songs we tracked going into the studio.  It’s really autobiographical; that one, for us, is really about our process and how we work together, an unspoken connection that has to do with intuition and love.”

Of her actual influences behind Pray For Rain Sarah tells me that most of the things that most impact her are non-musical, but that my assessment of “I Trace Your Symbol” is certainly not at all unfounded: “I’m really interested in a lot of astrological things, like taro, but also poetry and books and reading and writing; that’s what inspires me, personally, but musically, Dire Straits, The Pretenders – we were just freaking out listening to ‘Chain Gang,’ and like, ‘They’re so good’ – and also Cyndi Lauper, she has some amazing stuff, like this live recording in the ‘80s (You can totally tell it’s from the ‘80s.) of ‘All Through The Night,’ which I can’t stop watching recently.”

As our conversation begins to wrap up Sarah tells me that Pure Bathing Culture are at work on a new record and that, at the time of our chat, are already three songs into, but she tells me that they’re hoping to continue touring and that they’re enjoying their current tour more than anything: “We’re having so much fun playing live.  You can expect a lot of passion and maybe some guitar solos.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.