Songs About Feelings: An Interview with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

03/30/2011 4:00 AM |

The L: So how do you guys feel about Belong, waiting on its imminent release?

KB: I’m glad people can hear it. It just felt like so phony to keep it under wraps forever. Even though the release date was there, we’re glad that people can stream it and hear it. We don’t really expect the whole thing where everyone waits until it comes out and there’s a false sense of surprise.

The L: If you could, would just put stuff out immediately after you’ve finished it? Are you convinced of the wisdom of the whole long-lead approach?

AN: It’s nice to sit with it. We actually went back and forth as to what the first single would be and stuff like that. I think that if just the day after we were “Let’s do it! Let’s put this song out!” we wouldn’t have made the right decision. Even the in-depthness of the mixing and mastering process was new to us, so I’m glad we were careful with that. But every day it was like, “Ok, let’s put it up! Ok, let’s put it up!”

The L: I remember reading SPIN back in the day, continually coming across the names Alan Moulder, and especially Flood, which just sounds so mysterious. I’d picture him in monk’s robes and Bono glasses. Did you guys have a firm mental image of that guy going in?

KB: We were so wrong. We were thinking like you. He’s totally your uncle at a barbecue with better stories. So approachable. He makes really serious rock records, but there was no point where he was like, “Let’s make a serious rock record.” I can only assume he was joking around during the making of The Downward Spiral, just having fun. Even though that music is really intense and powerful, it goes with a playful attitude.

The L: What kind of a Death Star console did they have set up for recording?

KB: It was very pro in some ways but it also wasn’t like a by-the-book recording. I have this fuzz pedal that by traditional engineering standards would just be considered appalling, and I mean, Flood nicknamed it “the Appalling Pedal.” But he realized it was our sound and our style. So he put as many guitars and bass parts through it as we could, and it’s what made us sound like us. It wasn’t like, “Now use a Les Paul and plug it into a Marshall stack, pan it left and double track.”

The L: Do you write all of the lyrics, Kip?

KB: Yeah.

The L: Do you try to work some personal experience into every song, or are you just content with phrases that are going to pop?

KB: It’s sounds dumb, but I just write about stuff that happens in my life. Most of our songs are just about feeling and stuff. I’m not capable of coming up with strange characters that inhabit a landscape, which is to reinforce the fact that I’m stupid. But some people can write in a very literary sense, and populate worlds with their characters. I can’t do that, I just write about my feelings.