Pure Bathing Culture
Bio Pure Bathing Culture
The world of Pure Bathing Culture is not the real world. It’s a world filled with characters like Scotty and the Bubble King and a place called the Ivory Coast, that’s not the real Ivory Coast. It’s also a world created for its protagonists, Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman, to travel to communicate abstract thought and remember all the things they want to remember. It’s a place where the night is magic and it will transform you.
In the humdrum everyday world, the corporal version of Pure Bathing Culture has for the last few years been growing naturally and at a steady pace. However, new album Pray for Rain sees them make an evolutionary leap, taking their finely honed metaphysical pop to a new level.
You can hear it in the opening notes of their anthemic title track: in Hindman’s clean yet serpentine guitar lines interacting with the live rhythm section and Versprille’s lucid vocals cutting through it all as she asks: “Is it pleasure? Is it pain? Did you pray for rain?”. You can hear it in the sweet pop perfection of ‘Clover’, and the trembling beauty of ‘She Shakes’, a story of two fantasy characters from different worlds being brought to an intense, fragile state through the experience of falling in love.
The roots of Pure Bathing Culture stretch back to 1999, when Versprille and Hindman befriended one another on the first day of freshman orientation at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. A decade later, they became bandmates when they both joined Vetiver for their Sub-Pop albums Tight Knit and The Errant Charm. It was while playing in Vetiver that Pure Bathing Culture emerged as its own entity.
When it came time to write and record the follow-up to last year’s Moon Tides, the duo knew what they didn’t want. “We didn’t gravitate towards someone making indie dream-pop records,” Dan said. That was when producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans, Angel Olsen, The Walkmen) reached out to the band and invited them to come record with him in his Dallas, TX studio.
“John pushed us to not make clichés, to not play into the style of other bands,” Dan said. The challenges came right away as Congleton pressed the group into unfamiliar and at times uncomfortable territory in the studio. “He tricked me with the guitars on the album,” Dan said. “We got the basic tracks down and he asked me to do scratch guitar and then John wouldn’t let me go back and do the guitars again. He refused to do any layering.”
As a result, everything on Pray for Rain is pretty much as Pure Bathing Culture actually sounds, all analog gear, with virtually no plug-ins or effects added afterwards, no hiding behind multiple layers. “There aren’t a lot of tricks; What you hear is naturally what’s there,” Dan said.
It was a taxing yet ultimately rewarding experience when the album was completed. “It was shocking to hear what the finished product was,” Sarah said. “It was like being in a vortex and then we came out with this record.” She adds with a laugh something John Congleton told her when all was said and done: “You were very brave.”
Pray for Rain is the sound of Pure Bathing Culture transforming from who they were to who they will be, of finding their way, ready to take steps both small and momentous on their musical path.