September is here, and Seattleites know that means it’s time to soak up every last bit of sun that comes our way. The latest release from psychedelic rock band, The Purrs, entitled Destroy the Sun, banks on this knowledge and helps prepare, or even excite us for the inevitable gloomy Washington winter that looms ahead.
The Purrs’ hard rocking psychedelic riffs make being stuck indoors far more bearable and interesting. Additionally, this local band’s unique brand of surf rock is just as at home on a hot day at Golden Gardens Park as it is bundled up with rain pouring down. This album is perfect to listen to with a thick sweater on and a pot of soup on the stove.
Perhaps the band members do such a great job of capturing the angst, weather and vibe of the region because of their long-term history here. Lead vocalist and bassist James “Jima” Antonio and guitarist Jason Milne have been playing music in Seattle as The Purrs for nearly 20 years. This fact is evident in the band’s tight, regionally appropriate sound. The Purrs’ psychedelic sound may also very well be a result of the years they’ve put in on Seattle’s trippy streets. There are few Seattle rock bands who produce tracks better suited to getting stoned in the rain than The Purrs.
Destroy the Sun, the band’s fifth and most ambitious full-length album, has a distinct cannabis-oriented sound that is especially evident on the title track, “Destroy the Sun,” and the somber but kicking track, “Late Night Disturbance.” The track “In an Unknown Field” conjures up images of an end-of-summer adventure, complete with getting caught in a warm, humid rainstorm in a meadow on the edge of an industrial area.
The band members consist of Jima on bass and vocals, Jason Milne on guitar and backing vocals, Liz Herrin on guitar and backing vocals and Dusty Hayes on drums and backing vocals. After releasing Destroy the Sun in early August, the band has had a pretty full schedule. But Jima made time to chat with CULTURE about the band’s origin and relationship with cannabis, with input from the band, of course.
We know The Purrs is from Seattle, but is that true for all of the band members as well?
The group’s core members are from the Pacific Northwest. But of the band’s near-20-year existence, certain past members have been from elsewhere. For instance, former rhythm guitarist Jason “Dose” Clarke was born in Jamaica.
How did The Purrs form; what’s your origin story?
Funny story—After the usual “Musicians Wanted” ad completely failed (the first bass player and drummer were seriously not up to snuff) I ended up connecting with some musicians at Seattle Hookah Lounge in the university district. We started jamming at open mics, eventually building a loyal fan base by playing local clubs, eventually Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Seattle HEMPFEST. Meeting other like-minded bands on the way to book shows at better clubs, including a residency as a house band at the legendary Monkey Pub and landing our first appearance at Bumbershoot Festival.
“In short, yes. Our creative process and sound have benefited indubitably by our experiments with cannabis in our rehearsals and in the studio. It offers new perspectives and allows for new ideas to seep into the arrangements.”
Who are some of your musical influences?
Oh man, that’s always a tough one. I mean we are all inspired by different music and also the same. Where do you start? For me it was Rush. We are influenced by everyone from Sonic Youth to The Grateful Dead to Yngwie Malmsteen.
Has Seattle’s cannabis culture influenced The Purrs’ sound, creative process or anything else?
In short, yes. Our creative process and sound have benefited indubitably by our experiments with cannabis in our rehearsals and in the studio. It offers new perspectives and allows for new ideas to seep into the arrangements. Experimentation is required to find new sounds, to find the correct “wrong way” for perspective, for musical ideas and keeping focused and coherent as well as other things.
What’s your favorite album to listen to when you’re super baked?
Oh man, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Although I can’t deny chilling out to some Jack Johnson or [Red Hot] Chili Peppers sometimes!