Pure Bathing Culture’s Daniel Hindman on Recording in Portlandia

Having moved from New York to Portland, Pure Bathing Culture’s Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille are no strangers to traveling long distances. That doesn’t make hours on the road any easier, though. “We do go insane,” Hindman says with a laugh, while talking about lengthy drives between shows. “We don’t avoid it.” The frontman was on route to St. Louis when we chatted about the band’s cross-country move, Portlandia, and recording with Richard Swift (The Shins, Damien Jurado). Pure Bathing Culture opens for BellaMaine and Poor Moon at Neumos this Saturday (6/22).

A lot of musicians move to New York, but you took the opposite route. Why did you settle in Portland? I know what you mean. I feel like I’ve met more people in New York that used to live in Portland, but we went the opposite direction. At the time, we were doing a lot of touring with another band we play in called Vetiver. We were not home very often; it’s expensive to live in New York. We were also hatching this tiny baby that grew to become Pure Bathing Culture, and we knew that we were going to record in the Northwest with our friend Richard Swift. Also, Sarah has a cousin in Portland, and she offered us the opportunity to rent a room from her. All of these aspects came together and our lease came up, and we impulsively decided to move to Portland.

It seems that most people know Portland from Portlandia, which isn’t the most accurate depiction. How would you describe the city as a musician living there? I feel you on the Portlandia thing. The first episode aired a week after we got there. Seeing the show and being like, “Whoa! What’s happening here?” That’s a strange thing. Being a band in Portland, there are many positive traits. Compared to New York, it’s really easy to have a place to rehearse. That was big for us. It’s far away from a lot of places, so you have to become more creative on the touring front, but it’s a really amazing place to come back to and work on music.

You mentioned producer Richard Swift. What was it like going from recording the EP to working with him on your full-length debut, Moon Tides ? It’s like coming complete circle for us because the EP and this full-length record are both aspects of the same period of time artistically for us. Recording the full-length with Richard was the best possible thing for us because it really allowed us to complete that circle and complete that first phase.

I read that there was a lot of improvisation during the recording process. Is that how you usually record? I wouldn’t call it improvisation in the sense of the way the word gets used with jazz music. The songs are completely written, and we have an idea of what the parts are. There’s not a lot of deliberation or time spent on the tracking. Richard is highly encouraging of very early takes, whether they’re vocals or guitar, so it has a way of capturing the impression of the part. Once you start to do that over a number of songs, it really starts to affect the overall sound of the record. It makes for a very pure, honest, simple, and minimalist approach to recording.

What does the rest of 2013 look like for Pure Bathing Culture? The record comes out in August, and we’ll probably be on the road as much as we can.

Hey, more chances to go insane! Yeah, insanity is really our comfort zone.

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