Interview Pure X: ‘It Was A Fucking Shitty Time’

The road leading to Pure X’s second album has been a tough one.

Putting together an album can be a torturous process. The act of recording a defining work finds your whole being consumed. It’s all encompassing and enveloping. It’s inescapable. Often, the torturous process of creation is characterised by some sort of trauma either personally, emotionally or creatively. Pure X’s second full-length ‘Crawling Up The Stairs’ is one of those intense records defined by turmoil and uncertainty. The cumulative effect of three years of doubt and, at times, despair is an incredibly powerful album with dark overtones superseded by an overwhelming feeling of redemption.

The carefree Nate Grace we find in a Brooklyn cafe while on tour is very different to the character he describes attempting to record the album. Grace spent the whole of 2012 incapacitated by a serious leg injury with doubts over whether he would ever walk again, or find the money to fund his treatment let alone record his band’s second album. “I was laid up for six months. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t do anything,” he candidly reveals. As well as Grace’s physical issues the rest of the band, bassist Jesse Jenkins and drummer Austin Youngblood had their own demons to fight as they pondered growing older and the rigours of life as a rock band. “We were all going through bullshit,” he continues. “I was going through this bullshit and Jesse was going through this bullshit. We were stuck, we couldn’t tour, we couldn’t do anything. We had just released an album and couldn’t even tour on it. It was a fucking shitty time.”

Now, upon the album’s completion Grace looks back on the band’s malaise as a positive thing and a creative spurt. Their enforced period of inactivity following the release of 2011’s debut album ‘Pleasure’ provided Pure X the time and opportunity to create something truly special. “From the outset we were going for something different. We were coming at it from a completely opposite angle,” he reveals. “With this new one we just had nothing but time. All I could do was work on the album whenever we could get into the studio.”
‘It took me a little while to come back to reality.’
Nate Grace is certainly an interesting and engaging character; from speaking to him, you get the impression he doesn’t have a care in the world, his lovely lazy drawl lulls you in. It’s clear from his words though that recording ‘Crawling Up The Stairs’ was an intense but ultimately beneficial period. “But now looking back on it I’m 100% thankful because I see that prior to that all I had wanted was time to record a real album. I love ‘Pleasure’ and I think it is a real album but the album in my head and the album in dreams that I’ve been trying to record for twenty years seems like this,” he says with an audible sense of rapture in his voice. “I did get that time, and we did get that time but we just had to pay the price for it. Having to pay the price and all that shit just got sucked into the album. To me it manifested in this fucking insane now-ness, I can’t even explain it, like wanting to be alive very badly.”

That aching yearning to be alive is perhaps the emotion that defines the album. It’s present in Grace’s tortured screams and howls on the dense and ultra heavy lament of ‘Someone Else’ as he pleads “Make me feel something, baby. I don’t give a fuck.” “That was hard,” he confesses. “We worked on that song literally for a year and a half. From the very first initial recording to the final zone that it ended up in. It went through a thousand transformations and I could never put the vocals on it. I could never get myself into that zone because that song requires being in a very specific zone.” He goes on to describe the intense feelings the song induces. “It’s still kind of hard to sing sometimes. To me that song has a very powerful dark magic to it. I could never really get to it and I felt like I had cast a curse on myself or some shit with that song. It took me going through all the bullshit that song is talking about before I can sing it. Then when I did sing it was just like, ‘Damn!’ I was brought to tears during the actual singing of the vocals. It took me a little while to come back to reality or something.”

If song writing in its primal form is an act of catharsis then Pure X’s second album is catharsis taken to another level. In many ways, it is perhaps a spiritual record. Each song deals with heightened emotions ramped up to almost unbearable levels. “That was the only thing I had going on in my life,” says Grace. “It was beyond cathartic. It was completely transformational in every fucking way. My life has been changing up so much and the music is doing the same thing. It was definitely cathartic in the sense that on some songs I just get to scream. That feels good to get that shit out.”





Pure X’s new album ‘Crawling Up The Stairs’ is out now via Merok.

Read the full interview in the 20th May edition of DIY Weekly, available from iTunes now.

Tags: Pure X, Features

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