Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Artist Interview: Pitschouse

The first time I pressed play on the debut EP by Pitschouse I had no idea what to expect. I had seen their name on the line-up for the Julie Byrne show at Heartland in April along with Mega Bog and PUNISHMENT, but that was it. Well, that’s not entirely true; one look at the cover image and I decided straight off that it alone merited further investigation. It features a line drawing of a city with “Pitschouse” etched in the negative space of the smokestack emissions against a backdrop of sunset orange and twilight green. So, I pushed play and within the week I had not only decided that this was by far and away one of the best pop records to come out of Seattle this year, but that I needed to contact Kyle, Amanda, and Nick directly to find out more about the band. Fortunately, they agreed to meet and talk with Nikki and I after their show at the Sunset on July 21.

How did you guys get together and what inspired you to start making music as Pitschouse?
K: Well, Nick and I are originally from Phoenix. We’ve known each other for a long time, close to 10 years now, and we’ve been playing music together in various bands for almost six. We were playing shows there, and then Nick moved away, and a series of events later we were living here in Seattle. I really wanted to play music again, so we tried to reform the old band that we had in Phoenix called Foxes…before that other Foxes…

N: Yeah, we played, I think, one show before someone saw our name and said, “oh, like Fleet Foxes” and we were like, “ahhhh, dammit!”

K: It just wasn’t the same, so I took a bit of a break and then started writing sort of a different type of song, and it called for keyboard. Nick was dating Amanda and I knew that she played piano, so we all three just started sort of working on the songs together. We played them for a good 2 months before we even had a show--we’d just practice them over and over. Then we had our first show at Hollow Earth in November.

"I destroyed a pickguard on a guitar that I didn’t own; somehow I colored it red with a pick. Pitschouse is sort of backing away from that."

How would you guys describe what you do?  
K: I don’t know. Some people have said jangle pop.

N:  Yeah, a couple people have said shoegaze-esque or like reverb pop. 

I noticed that Amanda’s last name is Pitsch, so I can guess where the inspiration for your name came from; is there more to it than that?
N: Kyle and I have lived at a house now for almost 3 years, and it’s a terrible house. A friend of mine who’s in the other band that Kyle and I are in moved up here with us, and we all had like a week to find a place. We finally found a house in a terrible neighborhood, and it’s a terrible house, but we had to say yes. We’ve called it “shit-house” for a long time and when I started dating Amanda I was just staying over at her house all the time, so if Kyle was hanging out with us he’d be like “are we shit-housing it tonight or are we pitschouse-ing it?”

That actually makes a lot of sense, and it gets deeper the longer you think about it…I love the new EP! It sounds familiar, but simultaneously fresh; it ruminates, but never seems aimless, and each song feels like a distinct piece. When was the material written and how did the EP take shape? Did you know you were writing an EP?
K: I had a feeling but I wasn’t sure. I wrote about 4 new songs in July of 2012, and then I took a couple of songs over from our old band and changed them up to work better with the new sound.

Just to be clear: what type of music were you guys writing as Foxes?
N: When he and I first started playing it was a lot of 2/4 Arizona folk-punk, or at least what we thought sounded like folk-punk, and then Kyle wanted to go for more of a rock and roll sound when we started Foxes
K: I destroyed a pickguard on a guitar that I didn’t own; somehow I colored it red with a pick. Pitschouse is sort of backing away from that. 

Where was it recorded?
Everyone: At shithouse.

Any regrets about using shithouse?
N: It turned out better than I thought it would.

K: Yeah, it totally surpassed my expectations for what it would sound like 
"Pitschouse" by Pitschouse. Out Now!
Are they any plans for a vinyl release?
N: I would love to, but we’re all broke; we spent all of our money just putting out the tapes.

They look really good by the way. They look awesome.
N: Oh, thank you. If someone were to approach us and be like “I can get you guys a sweet deal in putting together 7”s I think we’d be like, “oh, yeah, totally”

K: I’d need him to say, “the sweetest”; “I’ve got the sweetest deal for you”. Yeah, I think that if the opportunity arose I’d really love to do that.

Would you ever consider doing a Kickstarter?
K: Honestly I don’t know that I’d want to ‘cause I feel like at this point it would just be extended family. I feel like its really bad to just go on a distant uncle’s Facebook and be like, “here’s the link to the kickstarter”…I feel like at this point I wouldn’t feel quite ready.

"When we were hanging out at Amanda’s apartment we had a love affair with Deep Forest, with the infomercial for Pure Moods, and the marketing behind Zima."

What are your influences, both individually and as a group? Also, just generally speaking, what are you listening to at the moment?
K: As an individual member I’ve been listening got a lot of Hospitality, but when I wrote some of the first Pitschouse sounds I was listening to a lot of Tennis. Their first record is one of my favorite albums I think.

N: I’ve been listening to the new Yo La Tengo album a lot; the new My Bloody Valentine a lot. A friend of mine got me really into The Durutti Column. It’s a band from the late 70’s/80s that went for a while. It’s really cool. Just kind of pretty guitar music.

K: The two Wild Nothing albums

N: Yeah, Wild Nothing, and an embarrassing amount of Pure Moods--that 90’s new age comp that had Enya, Enigma, DJ Dato; David Byrne had a song on it. I used to work at a record store in Arizona and I acquired an end-cap listening station, so I bought a copy of Pure Moods from the record store I work at here, and now we have a permanent listening station. When we were hanging out at Amanda’s apartment we had a love affair with Deep Forest, with the infomercial for Pure Moods, and the marketing behind Zima. We remember seeing those commercials so much, but we never got to experience what that was all about. 

That’s awesome. Where do you work?
N: I work at Everyday Music on Capitol Hill 
We go there all the time. We love that place!

 How do you feel you fit into the larger Seattle scene? Any local act you’d especially like to play with/play with again?  
N: Mega Bog, Punishment, iji, Neighbors, Love In Mind… I always like playing with them.

Amanda and Nick, The Sunset, 7/21
Pitschouse seems to keep showing up in non-traditional venue settings. For example, I know you guys played The Bike Friday Kick Off last month at Henry Art Gallery, and Record Store Day at Everyday Music in Capitol Hill back in April…I guess we know now how that came about. What did you think about these shows?
N: It was nice playing to people who wouldn’t normally come out to a house venue or one of our other shows.

K: Those shows are really good for getting the music out there. Not that regular shows aren’t, but those shows allowed us to reach out in a different way.

Any thoughts on when we might expect a full-length release…no pressure of course.
K: I’d like to shoot for this time next year.

Where can people get the EP?
N: Our bandcamp is a “name your own price thing”, so you can get it for free there. We’re selling our physical tape through there, but its also available through Snorin’ Desert, Jigsaw Records, Lost Sound Tapes, and ReputationWorldwide.

Can people request it on KEXP?
N: I think so, yeah. They played Nautical a few weeks ago. So I think you can.

And last but not least: shows. Are there any upcoming shows at the moment?
N: On August 31st our friends at Heartland are putting together a festival called Bummershoot and we’re playing around noon in the grass next to Trading Musician. And then on September 21st we’re playing at Café Racer. Something might pop up in between now and then as well.

K: We’ll be playing at our house…tomorrow

Pitschouse at The Sunset, 7/21

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