Purplene. RIP 1997 - 2005
The life and arrival into Band Heaven for the band called Purplene, ANDREW HOUSTON kisses and tells.
Could all you other bands who are not Purplene just fuckin shoo for the moment? Please go and throw yourselves into tubs of boiling cokey-cola. We are trying to organise a procession into Band Heaven here, thanks a lot ya pack of idle headaches.
Im looking for a Purplene, there should be four of them, anyone seen them? They should be easy to spot around here; I was told theyd be quiet, content and sitting apart from these other lip-reading servicemen Purplene, Purplene, Purplene!
Hi, were Purplene. This is Dave Bedlam, he plays guitar and sings a little. This is Matt Rossetti, he plays drums. This is Adam Jesson, he plays bass. Im Matt Blackman, I play guitar and sing a little bit more than Dave. Hi!
Hey Gents, nice to meet ya, heard a lot of good things about you guys, welcome to Band Heaven. Cmon, you gotta get up there; Ians waiting to show you to the stage. You wanna drink? Smoke?
I believe in Band Heaven. I believe in a place where the docile bladdernuts that form the majority of rock bands in this world are stopped at the door and paddled all the way back to their mummies. I really do believe that at some point the good ones get a break. For a straight clear road to Band Heaven you need:
- A sense of self
- A genuine and unfailing love of music
- Fearlessness and self conviction
- Ability to write great music with depth
- Sing and write about things that mean something, anything (modestly).
Purplene were drenched like blotter in this list.
In Band Heaven, you just play and record, as much or as little as you like. Ian Curtis is the Stage Manager, Steve Albini will record and mix, and Calvin Johnston will fix your drinks. Afterwards, when youve had enough, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon wanna take you all out for dinner and talk about your favourite bands. Later, when youre all a lil bit drunk, you get to take the stage and play with Swervedriver, Polvo and the Melvins. Band Heaven is a nice place.
The first time I met the men from Purplene was when they arrived at my house in North Perth. They were staying for a week, launching their first album Ruining it for Everybody. They had four or five shows booked, were hoping to record a little and had a list of bands and record shops they wanted to check out. I thought they were insane; I lived in Perth and knew the foggy rate-paying reality of a town with ten good bands and one good record shop: Ointment.
I liked them straight away. We went inside and talked about bands, plans, songs and how much it cost to get into Beatty Park for a swim. Their West Australian tour was just another everyday adventure in the life of a band like Purplene. They toured sleepy Australian towns and cities that were never ready for them; they loved it and they attacked it like big drugged-up puppy dogs.
That night they played at the Hyde Park Hotel and they were truly amazing. They had a bombproof rhythm section and a fleet of guitar notes that sweetly tumbled after one another, searching for the corners of the room. Head Purp Matt Blackmans vocals sounded VERY serious and VERY paranoid. It was clear they were not just another band. This was a good band, a band that deserved things. This was a band that was going to get things, too.
It felt like they were here to correct something and they werent going to tell anyone what it was that needed fixing. There was a mystery to their music that rose from the four of them, you couldnt pick it, neither could you place them anywhere near that stupid list of bands that you loved at the time and that it is still a wonderful thing.
Purplene have the good grace to not die a bitter band. Theyre not bitter because they always believed in what they were doing. Not many bands truly feel that belief, thats why most of them end up pissing in your pockets about how great they could have been if only, blah, blah, blah.
Are you ready for sad-sack of a clich?? Ok, fatty, here goes: They are bowing out modestly at the top of their game. Thats a lovely thing for a band to do, isnt it? Behind them they leave a stack of great records that are fragile and beautifully realised. Im not going to try and describe their sound, get a hold of a record, sit in a sandalwood commando centre and describe it to yourself. Its wonderful.
At the moment Purplene are floating on up in a cloudy puff, straight to Band Heaven. In a milk crate at the back of the cloud are few copies of these:
- SMH Days (September 1998 Debut EP)
- All & Sundry (May 2000 Single)
- Split 7" with the Rebel Astronauts (Feb 2001)
- Ruining It For Everybody (Oct 2001 through Quietly Suburban Recordings Debut LP)
- Songs From The Marketplace (May 2003 through Quietly Suburban Recordings EP)
- Swords Down (March 2004 through Spunk Single)
- Purplene (May 2004 through Spunk LP)
Lets hope this was just a practice.
In the world of the internerd, Purplene have maintained one of the best websites around. Besides their music leaving a lasting legacy, their site too deserves to be retained as a resource for all the people who get into their music years from now (and they will). Definitely check out the tour diaries within the photo section (including their time spent recording with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago, and the trips to Perth) which speak volumes, as well as their back catalogue, news, and maybe just read up on a few things till you shake your head and curse yourself for letting this pass you by. Lucky for you, their sterling releases mean it won't.