Purity Ring, Still Ungirthed
Austin Chronicle: Howís your tour so far?
Megan James: Pretty good. Weíre on the second day, so no problems yet. Weíve just gone through New Jersey on the way to New York.
AC: What are your expectations for this tour? Most of the dates are sold out.
MJ: Iím pretty excited about touring with our friends Young Magic, who are lovely people and music. I think itíll be nice to be on the road with them. Iím happy to be driving south. Itís already gotten warmer. Weíve done a lot with touring. Based on that, I think weíve got a better handle on it than we have in the past. I feel pretty good about it.
AC: Youíve been experimenting?
MJ: Just with who you bring with you and how you develop the schedule day to day Ė where weíre stopping, where to find coffee. Thatís really hard to find sometimes. There are a few things that need to be in place to make things go smoothly. Iíve been reading a lot on tour, which is nice.
AC: What are you reading?
MJ: Itís called The Magus by John Fowles. Itís pretty long, so Iím hoping it will last me a few months, but I doubt it.
AC: You released ďUngirthedĒ on your Tumblr a year and a half before Shrines was released. What effect do you think the hype that built around that track had when the album was finally released?
MJ: That song was a turning point for the next 10 years of my life. Neither of us expected what happened with that song to happen. I canít really say what that song did for the record, but it was definitely the instigator. It was the reason we did any of it. That being said, I think I have a different kind of appreciation for that song, but each of the songs we released has the same sort of feedback from the Internet. I think itís all pretty similar if you were to think of all the feedback that weíve gotten from each song and the album as a whole. I feel itís all pretty equal across the board.
AC: Youíve made a lot of important announcements using social media. The release of ďUngirthed,Ē the Shrines album art, a few more tracks before the album. What role do you think social media has played in your career?
MJ: Itís all of it. We didnít tour once before we released the song. We didnít even write songs before we released that song. It was the first one. At the time it was the epitome of the Internet doing all the work for you. Itís been a lot of work since that happened because it made it possible for us to tour and be successful at this, but itís entirely social media. Itís nothing else. You can release a song that you think people will like, but the reason theyíve heard it is because of social media. Itís not because we pushed it on anyone. It just kind of trickles.
AC: When you played South by Southwest last year you played the Pitchfork showcase at the Central Presbyterian Church, which gave your set this creepy, jarring resonance. Now that youíve toured, what are you favorite kind of spaces to perform in?
MJ: Iím glad that you saw that. Actually, churches are my favorite. It seems like itís somewhat out of place for a band like us to play. Usually you see folk bands or something like that. Weíve played in a few different churches and I always feel so lucky when we get the chance. Theyíre the best shows, I think.
AC: What are those lighted orbs that Corin plays live?
MJ: We just call them the instrument or the lights. Every tour we kind of tweak it, but he built it. Each light represents a note in each song. The first version that we had of that were these metal pipes with the orbs on the end, but it was all connected and a bunch of the other ones would go off all at the same time, so it was hard to control.
AC: How important are visuals to a Purity Ring set? There was a pretty elaborate set up.
MJ: Itís difficult for an electronic band because the way we record is not interesting to watch at all. Itís so boring, no one would watch that for an hour. Itís extremely important to have some visual aesthetics that isnít anything to do with how you write Ė just so it can be a spectacle. It should be something people appreciate outside of the music, but also in conjunction with the music. Weíve gone to great lengths to make sure that there is something to look at, and that the set will evolve and not be too long. We hope that weíre making everyone else comfortable, which is a way to connect with the audience. I think that visuals are half of the importance of a live show.
AC: You and Corin live and work in separate cities. How does that process work?
MJ: Heíll send me a track that Iíve never heard before, then Iíll send him a demo that heís never heard before, then he reconvenes the parts so they cater more to the vocals and make sure itís all congruent. The whole writing process is a lot of work, but when we record we can do it in one day.
AC: At what point did you figure out your could Google ďPurity RingĒ without Christian jewelry coming up first? It used to be difficult to find you guys!
MJ: [Laughs] I actually didnít know that. It says a lot about what the Internet has done, I guess. Iím glad weíre finally coming up more than actual purity rings. That shows increases in our favor.