As far as legend goes, Pumarosa probably take this year’s unofficial biscuit. The group first formed when they piled into a beat-up van together on a total whim, driving off to set up musical camp at an eccentric Italian bloke’s dilapidated cinema the other side of Europe. As you do. Taking up a residency at Palma Violets’ infamous 180 HQ on their return - slap-bang in the middle of a “super wild, young and drunk” rabble making a right racket in Lambeth - Pumarosa set about concocting their strange, ritualistic rock music with meticulous precision. Fast-forward to 2016, and Isabel Munoz-Newsome is still fresh from the band’s latest pinch-yourself moment; a sell-out show at the cavernous arches of London’s Village Underground.
“We loved it,” the mallet-wielding front woman enthuses, still recovering from the rammed-to-the-rafters live affair. “It was quite a lot of pressure, I ‘spose,” she admits, “because it’s our first really big show. It was quite shocking that there were so many people there. I was not confident about that happening!” she hoots. “That’s probably not the right thing to say, but it’s true.”
Massive rooms like this - y’know, rooms with actual walls and stuff - are certainly a far cry from Pumarosa’s favoured surroundings. Fittingly for a band that bleeds hypnotic tinges of dance music with grating, abrasive noise without a second thought, Isabel and Pumarosa’s other founding member Nicholas Owen met the rest of their tight-knit band when they were living in - or rather, on top of - a Manor House warehouse.
“We ended up living on a roof, in a yurt,” starts Isabel, casually. “It was beautiful, and it wasn’t even cold,” she adds cheerily, “we just had a little heater.” Bear Grylls, eat your heart out.
“You have to be super open and impulsive.”
Pumarosa’s passion for The Great Outdoors was not without its hazards, Isabel concedes. “One night we were asleep and we suddenly just heard someone climbing up onto the roof and we thought ‘this is it, this is the end,’” she says, a hint of drama in her voice. “Nick suddenly jumped out and grabbed a piece of wood, because someone was trying to get in. Anyway, it was just this guy that was tripping,” she sniggers. “A sweet, very harmless, very dangly-eyed guy.”
After giving just a few early glimpses - in the shape of ‘Priestess,’ ‘Cecile,’ and ‘Honey’ - Pumarosa have already nailed the kind of distinctive, unmistakable hallmark sound many bands spend years shooting for. And in the process of wrapping up their album with production maestro Dan Carey, the band aren’t honing in on polished perfection. Rather, they’re aiming to bottle their potent live energy into their first full-length, and slap the here and now onto black wax.
“Usually all at the same time, we feel when a take is good,” Isabel says. ‘We just all know it, and we respect that more than getting a melody utterly perfect, or whatever. You have to be super open and impulsive at the same time, but doing it like that, you can get a perfection of a kind,” she adds, “but not Mozart style. It’s more of a vibey thing.”
Photo: Provided by Pumarosa. Taken from the December 2016 / January 2017 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe below.