It’s been a little over two years since The Pains of Being Pure at Heart‘s gently lovelorn indie-pop brought Brooklyn swooning to its knees. Now far past the initial goal of snagging their dream label, Slumberland, they’ve been praised in every publication out there, gigged around the globe a time or two, and are now itching to debut the strongest, most assured music they’ve made yet. The new record in question, Belong, just happens to come straight from the hallowed production decks of Flood and Alan Moulder, two men as responsible as anyone else for the world-conquering hugeness of 1990s alternative rock. The brakes aren’t exactly being pumped. They seem pretty chilled out about the whole thing, at least. We sat down for tea with singer/guitarist Kip Berman and bassist Alex Nadius, in a momentary post-SXSW, pre-U.S. tour lull.
The L: I saw you guys on Letterman last night. Afterwards, I think you were the most giddily happy band I’ve ever seen on late-night television.
Alex Nadius: I didn’t even think about the fact that we’d still be rolling. Milliseconds after they cut we were all insanely hugging each other like idiots.
The L: Totally. It was charming.
AN: It was hard to contain, really. It was such a relief by the time it was done. You know, you have rehearsal and then you sit around for an excruciating hour and half of trying to control your stomach from popping out of your body.
The L: The first time you meet Dave is when he comes over to shake your hand, right?
Kip Berman: He didn’t even come to rehearsal. They have a Dave stand-in. He could probably do that show in his sleep.
AN: I did get to talk to Paul Schaffer though.
The L: Is he a cool guy?
AN: He was really nice. [In mock schmoozy Paul Schaffer voice] “You guys are really clean, really tight. I like the guitar sound.” The really cool thing about being there was that every single person, all the stage people and everything, instead of saying goodbye, they’d all say, “See you next time, man.” I was like, “I really hope I do!” It’s such a positive way to put it.
KB: It’s such a different world from anything we’ve really experienced. It’s not something that we ever thought was going to happen. It was really life-affirming. It wasn’t sterile. It didn’t feel like, not us. And I was so scared of it leading up. When it was over, it was just like, “That was fun!” It’s like a roller coaster you’re scared to go on, until you’re done with it and it’s like, that was awesome. Let’s go again!
The L: So do you have a different feeling on the eve of this record coming out as opposed to the last one? Obviously a lot’s happened.
AN: It would be strange if we had the same feeling. We were just psyched that we were putting out a record. Period. Let alone that it was on Slumberland. And everything that’s happened in the last two years… It’s not like we expected to do Letterman. But it’s cool to know, or think, that we can keep doing this as a life. Which is certainly not something we thought was possible.
The L: That’s a good place to be then, right?
AN: Yeah, it’s an amazing place.
KB: I’m not the most optimistic dude, always. I’d just rather feel pleasantly surprised when something good happens rather than disappointed if it doesn’t. We’re just trying to appreciate this moment as much as possible. Even if like, no one cares about us in six months or next year, I feel good about what happened and the way we’ve done things. As of today, I don’t feel like we ‘effed it up with any decision we’ve made. It’s like win or lose, we would get a good sportsmanship award.
AN: We’re going to get the Lady Byng.