Interview: Pure Reason Revolution
By Linda Serck
Space rock, astral rock, intergallactic rock - call it what you will, Reading's Pure Reason Revolution are definitely travelling on terra firma to promote their second album Amor Vincit Omnia. We catch up with Jon Courtney and Chloe Alper.
Pure Reason Revolution
It's an icy but sunny afternoon outside the colourful walls of Plug 'n' Play studios, the Reading venue that hosted the launch of Pure Reason Revolution's UK headlining tour.
The Reading band, whose bombastic riffs and celestial harmonies have inspired all sorts of inter-galactical metaphors (space rock, astral rock - for the record, the band simply call their music 'contemporary rock'), are taking their second album, Amor Vincit Omnia, on the road for a string of around 40 dates, including ones in Europe.
Fresh from a lengthy and loud soundcheck, frontman Jon Courtney stands outside quietly sipping a can of beer while the petite Chloe Alper is jumping up and down to banish the cold, despite wearing a white jumper and red neck scarf.
I suggest that a home-town gig is an easy start to their tour. But Jon immediately shakes his head.
"It's pressure isn't it" he says.
Chloe adds: "It's the opposite in fact, it's nerve-wracking, it's playing in front of old friends that you possibly haven't seen in a while," laughing: "and family who potentially judge you!"
Inside Plug 'n' Play, which is tucked away on an industrial estate in Milford Road, equipment and boxes are strewn about the floor. It takes a lot of technology to transfer PRR's "aural spectacular" to the live stage - synths, a sampler, their own digital sound desk to achieve all the reverb and delays, and then there's the visuals to think of as well.
Little wonder the four-piece have already been rehearsing for three hours when I arrive.
Chloe says: "We have so much going on that we have to try and perfect the sound at every gig, there's a lot for the sound guy to think about and for us to think about so the earlier the better really."
And with this perfectionism also comes a mature dose of scholarliness. The album title Amor Vincit Omnia is Latin for 'love conquers all', while their current single is also in Latin: Deus Ex Machina.
"Basically it means someone that came along and saved the day," explains Jon of the single title.
"It's not that I read a load of philosophy," he's keen to add, "it's just picking into books - I like that phrase so I'll make a song out of that. I'm not a geek honestly!"
Chloe adds: "It's nice to have a bit of classical reference as well, it sets us aside immediately from all the other songs."
While Jon isn't a geek, so he says, he did manage to pull off producing the monolith of an album himself, with debut album producer Paul Northfield mixing "some of the rockers".
"I'd been interested in production since I was 17, 18," says Jon, "and for me if you're a songwriter it goes hand-in-hand with song-writing because if you have a vision for the song, and you know how to produce it, then it comes to fruition a lot easier than if you're trying to explain that to some producer who's like 'uhhhh don't know what you're talking about'."
Amor Vincit Omnia, an album full of "depraved love songs" that spans both the euphoria and bitterness love can unleash, has also been touted as an album that sees PRR venture deeper into the electronica world.
"I suppose it's been a few years since the last release so I guess it's just the leaking in of new influences," says Chloe, "and us growing in terms of what we know and what we love, and experimenting as well and pushing our own boundary really.
"There's still the trademark PRR sound it's just grown slightly into something different."
Also a limited edition CD only available at gigs features a remix by Reading's Tom Bellamy, formerly of The Cooper Temple Clause.
With a discussion of the tour, Jon seals his character as, not nerdy in the slightest, but certainly an intensely driven musician with a desire for knowledge and a cultural learning.
"We really enjoy playing in Europe - we also enjoy playing in the UK - but it's bit nicer waking up in Berlin and being able to go to a nice cafe - that beats Stoke!", he laughs.
"These guys generally sleep in a bit but I get to a city, 8am and the alarm goes, and I'm like 'I'm going to have a look round'. I'll phone Chloe and she's like 'uuuh still in bed'."
"We have a good nosey around because you don't know if you've got the chance to go back to that city. You've got to make the most of it really."
last updated: 23/03/2009 at 09:25