Don't Pitty this Singer
No one feels Oh-So-80s as much as the band Pitty Sing. Named for an evil Flannery O’Connor cat, their debut album, out a mere 30 days ago, is already being played on Fuse and MTV. Signed to Or Music, which hit last year with Velvet Underground’s John Cale’s latest album and the double CD tribute to roots icon Alejandro Escovedo, 'Por Vida', Pitty Sing's breakout was mixed by Mark Needham, who’s worked with the Killers, Chris Isaak, and Cake.
Having just thrown a Fashion Week party with them, I sat down to wax nostalgic about our John Hughes fixation with Paul Holmes, lead singer of the band that Billboard has called “musically and lyrically potent”, and to discuss their first record:
(1) You’re miffed about being compared to ‘80s acts Simple Minds and The Smiths and say they didn’t influence you; tell the truth, what 80s albums do you own?
PH: I own all of 6 CDs, I’m not exactly the most organised person so I can’t bring myself to buy anything. I don’t even have an iPod. My roommate has some Smiths CDs, I don’t really like any of it.
(2) Come on now! We have a quote where you say that you “remember from being very young the [Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s ‘80s hit] ‘Souvenirs’" and that “it stuck with” you.
PH: That’s true, when I was in the womb. My Mom used to listen to that song – she thinks that some of that atmosphere intrinsically went through the belly… Then again she says a lot of off the wall things.
(3) In the womb! They played that at my junior prom! [Bass player] Andrew’s hair is dyed black like Cure front man Robert Smiths; coincidink?
PH: Hmm. That’s probably not a coincidence.
(4) You formed in Boston and move to NY; what’s the difference in being a band in each of those cities?
PH: In Boston you can’t be a band other than… playing in your own house. You might not be too encouraged by doing that which leads to sitting around smoking weed all day which means that you have to wait till someone comes over for weed to give them a CD.
In NY you can actually PLAY for people and actually SEE people.
(5) In the Flannery O'Connor story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, a cat called Pitty Sing drives a group of escaped convicts to murder an innocent family; will your music inspire homicidal tendencies?
PH: Jeremy had a list of band names; he had been putting them together for years. We didn’t actually know what it was about, it was not deep, but it phonetically sounded cool and then we actually read the story and decide to make it sound like we were quite intellectual.
(6) On one of your songs, you sing about a couple with no money and no prospects who feel nonetheless invincible, thanks to their chemically-induced haze and on another about a couple who finds out they’ve been unknowingly infected with the AIDS virus; is all love doomed in your music?
PH: There is a certain mystique about tragedy or how ironic true love can be and how unhappy it can make you but I don’t limit myself to sad things. There are a lot of songs not on the record quite hopeful and lovely. I’m not going to give everyone AIDS and kill the whole world… wait …. it’s early days yet.
(7) Hmm. Do you know Ian Curtis is? [Editor’s Note: Joy Division’s front man; he committed suicide at 23 *just* before ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ became a hit. Band became New Order.]
PH: Oh yeah! My Dad was friends with him. I heard second-hand all about 24 hour Party People. I listened to some Joy Division recently.
(8) Now wait just a minute, you have no records, how’s that possible?
PH: (laughs) I used to collect records when I was young, I just can’t keep track of them.
I had this brilliant idea the other day; they should make CDs miniscule and enclose them in plastic.
Then someone told me…..” that’s called a minidisk.” I really thought I was on to something!
(9) You’ve been quoted talking about how people are “pushing the envelope of pop in past decades”; in real English, what does that mean? And do you think Britney Spears pushes the envelope?
PH: In the ‘60s everything was going from blues to rock and roll; it was quite a jump with the Beatles. Then the Doors - some edge and a deeper life meaning. In the ‘70s it became metal and then dance, changing rapidly. Now you have the new Green Day record. Ten years after the first one and exactly the same!!! Britney’s fine. She’s getting fat and smoking cigarettes.
(10) We hear that you went to Dallas and worked at an unknown jingle studio with a series of increasingly befuddled engineers; what's that all about?
PH: The first one was pretty befuddled, he was messing with the idea of becoming a priest so he was going to these classes at the same time as we were doing the record and the behind the scenes stuff was not conducive to religious studies. We went with a friend from Dallas who was a producer who was 19 and no one had any clue. No one had done any real recording just demos and it had to be sonically up to today’s standards. I don’t even remember doing it, we were so messed up. Now I’m more educated in the process; the next one will be much more sonically astute. We can’t get away from whole ‘80s labeling right now because we’re supporting the current record but give us the next record and all that goes away.
(11) Do you get more babes now that you’re “almost famous”?
PH: You always think, “when you hit this point”, “when I do this gig”, “when I get this EP out…oh they’ll go cuh-ra-zy over EPs”… but…..you get some people who ‘knew you spiritually without ever meeting you’ – some crazy people. The way they approach you doesn’t make you attracted; it just makes you scared. I try to have at least one person around who is large and strong! The quantity has grown but I don’t know if quality has grown. I’m glad they think I was thinking of them when I wrote it but I don’t think I’ll be thinking of them now that I’ve met them! “I knew you were speaking just to me” seems to be the standard approach....hmm, you and the five other people right before….BUT just the handful of you though, that’s all I was thinking of!
(12) What can you tell us that your publicist doesn’t want us to know?
PH: This is like when I ask the label something like, “Are we going to be able to see those pictures when they go out?”
And they say ‘I hope so’; that’s record company talk for ‘no f-ing way!’ Well, in a rest stop coming back from Boston, we’d bought all these bouncy balls and were throwing them around like idiots. Andrew threw one and it grazed this car. The owner starts shouting and swearing over a bouncy ball rubbing the side of his car.
He compared the car to a ball bouncing off our head. He wanted to hit us in the head with it! I’d never been threatened with a bouncy ball before…
I’m sure it won’t be the last time.
Click here to see Pitty Sing’s self titled album.