As Kip Berman discusses the influences, motivations and history that guide his New York Indie Rock quartet, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the composed and intelligent frontman explodes in mock frustration.
“All my descriptions are really boring!” he says. “I should be like, ‘We wanted to turn the world upside down and reject all the fucking paradigms of society and be like, ‘Fuck you, Rock establishment,’ instead of, ‘We didn’t know how to record a snare drum.’ We don’t have a look-at-our-dicks mentality. Our music communicates what we’re about more than my ability to describe it. Feel free to liven up the conversation so your readers don’t fall firmly asleep.”
The Pains have progressed exponentially since assembling for keyboardist Peggy Wang’s birthday party in 2007. Since then, the rockers have released two well-received albums — including the acclaimed latest, Belong — and a few EPs and singles, attracting an increasingly rabid fan base across the country.
“We loved bands who never reached an audience beyond a narrow band of people who were passionately devoted to them,” says Berman. “There wasn’t a precedent for us (for being a band that makes) music that gets a national tour and plays well-attended shows. We’re just grateful that we get to be a band.”
During our chat, Berman name-checks several bands as influences (Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Nirvana, Jesus and Mary Chain) and reference points (White Stripes, Orange Juice, Velvet Underground), and it’s easy to connect those dots to the Pains’ sound. It’s easier still to identify where the band diverges. The group has been described as Shoegaze, but the Pains are delirious where that genre is dour — perhaps Skygaze is more appropriate.
Ultimately, the Pains aren’t particularly interested in opinions. They’re just happy in their work.
“I was in bands that never played a show outside of the zip code I lived in,” Berman says. “I didn’t have any expectation that this band would be any different. I feel proud that we accomplished something that is the full realization of the kind of people we are, the music we love and the things we want to express.”
THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART play the Southgate House Thursday, Aug. 4 with guests CRAFT SPELLS. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.