“My lyrics? I don’t really care for them too much.”
“At our shows we’re creating this awesome chaos, but we’re really, really tight.”
Indie rock isn’t historically known for meaningful lyrics; if anything, the lyrics are known for their silliness and the fact that it (sometimes) sounds as if they were thrown together right as the album was being recorded. Although this has been true since the inception of the genre, it’s nice to find a band that is willing to admit it.
“My lyrics? I don’t really care for them too much,” Nice Purse’s Ian Nygaard says. “After I write them, they’re the part I’m most unhappy about.” Fortunately, it isn’t the lyrics that make Minneapolis’ Nice Purse something special.
Nice Purse, the brainchild of Nygaard and France Camp, may not take themselves seriously, but they take not taking themselves seriously very seriously. It’s this attitude that creates the infectious music that can be found on their recorded material, and that creates an incredibly energetic live show. And it’s that live show that’s brought them the most intention. Don’t mistake the fun loving attitude – Nice Purse knows how to play.
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Bandmate James Wolfeatens says, “It’s like going and watching a group that doesn’t know what they’re doing, but they’re having fun with it, and are surprisingly tight. You can see bands that have a sense of recklessness on stage but do it sloppily – at our shows we’re creating this awesome chaos, but we’re really, really tight. There’s so much stuff going on that we’re all doing, it’s like going to a b-day party where there’s no cake.”
That doesn’t mean they haven’t evolved, though, and even though Nygaard’s favorite song lyrically might be “Ice Cream Handjobs,” Wolfeatens sees their evolution. “I think the songwriting is starting to evolve a bit. The first album, a lot of the songs were cowboy chords, the same chords, just writing [simple] pop songs. Now we’re going outside of that a bit, basing the songs off those cowboy chords, and managing to make those chords feel kinda surfy. Some of the new songs are pretty dark – darker than the first record. [Our guitarist] Jay strums like a weirdo, he kinda stutters, it’s not like anyone else’s. It’s dumb but it’s cool.”
This evolution shows up in their live show and in their recordings, as well. The newest album, which has been primarily recorded at Underwood Recording Studio, is different than 2010’s Black Medal in several ways, the largest of which has been the process of when and where things get done.
“We started off playing those songs on the first album and we didn’t know shit about anything,” Nygaard says, “The first album was much more put together in the studio, whereas this new album was put together outside the studio and then brought into one. A few notches turned up; we’re all very much ourselves in the studio now instead of piecing it together.”
Underwood, which is the primary recording studio for So-TM Records (which member Jeff Lorentzen happens to have a hand in running, as well), didn’t have everything they needed for the new album. Lorentzen says, “[At Underwood] we run protocols and some mics and some pres; it’s a pretty small setup. That’s why with some of this stuff, we’re getting out to some places to do some things we can’t necessarily achieve technically in our own space. We had like a million mics set up.”
The songwriting process has evolved as well. Lorentzen says, “All the songs Jay kind of writes himself. On the first record he brought them to me. Now he brings the songs to all of us and we make them badass. The first record was Ian and Jay doing the thing; they are still the biggest collaborators of the band. The songs for the first record existed for over a year before they were recorded.” The change he attributes to the fact that they’re “all buddies” now due to the new lineup.
For a band that willingly admits they rarely practice outside of their live show, Nice Purse is more than willing to admit they care about style as much as anything else. Even with their gear, it’s just as much about keeping it fun and stylish as it is related to performance, sometimes even more so.
“Jay uses some old stuff; he’s got one pickup and it’s tinny. I play a hollow body box from the ’60s and it sounds like shit, but it’s cool,” Nygaard says. It’s not what they have, though, it’s how they use it.
Lorentzen says, “The way that Ian uses his instruments is pretty interesting. He’s got a small amount of pedals but the way he uses then; the sounds he can make come from his guitar are amazing. Our gear definitely plays a role in the overall sound.”
In regards to the newer material, Lorentzen says, “We’re louder. Really loud now. It’s kinda weird how that happens – we were like a folk band, kinda. Now, we’re super loud, in-your-face. Jay’s songwriting is still singer/songwritery and poppy.” And with the new album being more “instrument oriented,” according to Lorentzen, this follows their logical progression from a cute indie rock band who could easily have opened for Kimya Dawson to a band that’s actually trying to do something new and different. It’s this evolution that will likely be the most apparent as they progress and grow.
That doesn’t mean they’re on their way to taking themselves seriou
sly, they still claim their hopes (other than a West Coast tour) are to make it on Conan (or Jimmy Kimmel “if they have to”), play a few shows around town, then “get blasted out on MTV.”
And who knows, when people see someone having fun, they want to join in. Nice Purse seems to be having a whole lot of fun right now.
Photos by Chris Heidman