PURPLE RHINESTONE EAGLE
“Shining Metallic Purple Armor”
It’s difficult to write much about PURPLE RHINESTONE EAGLE without coming across as some sort of riff-crazed evangelical, invested in spreading the message of these psych-metal witches far and wide, heaping scorn on the non-believers.
So far, no one has been able to conclusively say whether or not the band can walk on water or raise the dead. But you should have supreme confidence in their ability to save your soul, as proven by their new LP, “The Great Return.” Massive aural riches await all listeners, as the band ably navigates between the cosmic sphere and the part of rock & roll that preaches empowerment over enslavement.
And they do it all through pegged out amps that You can bet are covered with stickers proclaiming their love for Saint Vitus and The Gits. We’ll let the power trio take it from here.
Listening to “The Great Return” immediately after “Amorum Tali,” there seems to be what – for lack of a more descriptive term – might be a progression in the sound. Does it feel like a progression to the members of PRE? Or are you too distant already from even the latest album to offer an assessment?
Andrea: Oooh, yeah. I feel like we have traveled light years since “Amorum Tali.” Our playing and song writing has gotten so much stronger since then. I think “The Great Return” exemplifies that very much.
Morgan: Definitely. “The Great Return” is much more of a cohesive album this time around … it was actually really exciting to be able to see progress by comparing the recordings. It’s hard to tell sometimes when you’re in the midst of a thing.
Ashley: We are constantly progressing as musicians and songwriters. “The Great Return” is an accurate documentation of this.
The (possibly phantom) “progression” is evident from the start, with the opening track, “No Space Nukes,” being nothing if not an anthem for riff-crazed lovers and inhabitants of the third ring of Saturn. What is the origin of this song? At what point did it become clear it should be the lead track? Push comes to shove, what’s the best lead track in recorded history?
Andrea: “No Space Nukes” is primarily about the moon bombing that happened a few months back. I think we were all pretty shocked when we heard about NASA’s plan and really surprised that such a huge event was getting such little media attention. The lyrics are really just a reaction to, what I feel, is an incredibly irresponsible act. So much could have gone wrong. We had this whole concept of the album as a return to many things. Lyrically, sonically and even visually, we wanted the album to have a feel of a circle or a cycle completing. To us, it made sense for the album to start with a nightmare scenario (moon being destroyed) and end with a fantastical dream (astral flight to another world).
The notion of “progression” in music can have more nuance than it may be worth – one woman’s prog is another man’s dinosaur rock, which is another person’s punk. Or something. Is there anything like a united vision for the sound of Purple Rhinestone Eagle? Or is it more the case of three different minds emerging from three different perspectives?
Andrea: Three witches, one cauldron. Dig, brutha?
Morgan: I like that answer. I dislike assigning genres.
What about your own musical progression, from the standpoint of inspiration and creative development? What music first captured your imagination? What band or artist have you learned the most from?
Andrea: As a lass, I was first really captivated by the sounds of bands coming out of the North West – especially bands with ladies in them. Bands like Sleater-Kinney, The Need and Bikini Kill had a tremendous effect on me. I started playing guitar because of bands like that and I will always be grateful. Old school heavy metal, heavy rock and psychedelia is what captures my attention now but I find inspiration in almost all forms of music. Just as an example, things like the Venezuela Youth Orchestra, to me, is one of the most inspiring musical projects in the world. Makes me want to keep going, keep playing, keep writing.
Morgan: Green Day is the first band I ever loved, at 12 years old. I still love Green Day, but now I also love the Pixies, Queen, Black Sabbath, the Melvins, 13th Floor Elevators … in that chronological order. It all plays a role.
Ashley: Music has been an obsession of mine and will probably always be until I’m an old-ass lady and have to turn that shit up so loud so I can feel the tunes. The first genre of music I heard and became obsessed with as a kid was jazz, thanks to my dad. After that, it was classic rock of the late 60’s and early 70’s that got me stoked. As a band, it is very cool how we can all come from different musical backgrounds and still come together and get excited about one album or one band. It’s a thing we don’t really have to try at; it’s like, “Dude, you know that one part where that thing happens? That’s the shit!!!”
What previous musical history is there between the three eagle-eyes? Did you play in other bands together? That’s right – we need to know your history “pre-PRE”! Do you play in any other bands currently?
Andrea: I was in a couple of previous bands that I dare not mention here. Currently I’ve got this on-going solo project and a side project band that I’m about to start with a couple friends. Also working on a film score for a very talented friend of mine on some esoteric far out shit.
Morgan: Purple Rhinestone Eagle is the first actual band I’ve been in. The idea of playing music with other people freaked me out for a while. Now I have a side project called the Mishaps. I play punk rock in a basement with two of my favorite people, and it’s really fun.
Ashley: Before Purple Rhinestone Eagle (BPRE), I could not stay in one place long enough to have a band or consistently practice on my own. Now we are going on our sixth year as a band (wtf??) and I look at our history as one would look at previous bands she has been in. We went through quite a few transformations before we really figured out what the hell we we were doing. One of the cool things about portland is everyone here plays music. I have had the pleasure and honor to work on music projects with some great people here. My home girl Justine, who plays in the fucking incredible band Lozen, started a double drummer band called Thunder Over Fire. I also play drums in a band called Brave Priest. Since we arrived home from this most recent tour I have been working on new and exciting projects with friends around town. Got to stay busy in the winter!
“The Great Return” also features an outrageous doom-rock shuffle called “Burn It Down” – the call is to “burn it all down.” Is this an expression of nihilism? Or an oath sworn to destroy the things that enslave us all (fears, monoliths, vanity, empires)? None of the above is an acceptable answer if followed by an explanation. Have you seen the film, “Until the Light Takes Us”?
Andrea: Definitely not waxing nihilism on that one. Those lyrics came out in a sort of cathartic, stream of consciousness style basically expressing a lot of the things I feel the world can do without. Yeah, I’d say it’s an oath of sorts. I’ve never seen “Until the Light Takes Us” (I see where you are going with this) but it’s funny to imagine the three of us in corpse paint … minus the whole committing heinous crimes part.
Do you care to comment on the rumor (that I am trying to start right here) that Purple Rhinestone Eagle will soon record a cover of “Rhinestone Cowboy” featuring vocal stylings reminiscent of “Purple Rain”-era Prince and mellow guitar tones that can only be described as “Eagles-esque”? If true, will you send me one on pink vinyl?
Andrea: Well, all of that is true except that Willow Smith (of “Whip My Hair” fame) will be collaborating on that track with us as well.
What music have yup been listening to lately? What band has recently knocked your socks off as a live performance? My apologies if you do not wear socks.
Andrea: I’ve been getting down with some Evelyn Glennie lately. I’ve also been feeling the vibes of Augustus Pablo, Budgie, Trouble (thanks, Ash), High Tide, Jacula, Satan (“Court in the Act”), Kultivator … I could go on. As far as live performance go, two bands that I am really into right now: Emeralds and Bad Dream. Yeah, I wear socks and I never really understood those who do not.
Morgan: I have been listening to The Stooges, Roky Erickson, The Pretty Things, and the Lillingtons incessantly. I get into intense phases with certain records. As far as live performance, I second Andrea on the Bad Dream and Emeralds tip, those bands are amazing. Also, Nick Cave blew me away the last time I saw him.
Ashley: Last night i fell asleep listening to Tangerine Dream (“Phaedra”). Right now I am listening to Voivod (“War and Pain”) while answering these questions. This sums up where I am musically right now: really far out ambient jams right into thrash metal … oh, and most stuff in between. Recently, I saw the Need play their first show in years. They reunited to play a benefit for a friend with cancer. Rachel Carns is a breast cancer survivor and gladly showed the crowd her scars to the crowd. Her drumming, along with Radio Sloan’s shredding was such an incredible sight to behold.
One last thought on progress, from our old friend, Oscar Wilde: “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.” Your thoughts? What do you hope to do more of as time progresses?
Andrea: Well, as the saying goes, man fears time but time fears the pyramids. As time progresses I’d like to be as foppish, witty and as well-dressed as Mr. Wilde.
Morgan: More of the same, but better?
Ashley: More shredding, more touring, more partying, more slaying, more fighting epic battles, more boots, more time travel, more world domination, etc.
What’s next for Purple Rhinestone Eagle?
Andrea: We’re writing songs already for the next album. And we got a bunch of potential 7″ splits we want to do with friend bands. Other than that touring, living, playing shows, etc. …
Ashley: We are super motivated to keep moving and keep progressing. We hope to get back to europe and hopefully to japan for the next big tour.