Getting to Know Pure Bathing Culture

Portland Duo Plays Santa Barbara with STRFKR

Pure Bathing Culture (PBC)

If there’s a band that’s mastered the art of capturing a mood this year, it’s Pure Bathing Culture (PBC). On the Portland duo’s self-titled EP, sparse drum-machine beats lay the groundwork for dreamy washes of electric guitar and synthesizers. At the forefront of it all, singer Sarah Versprille’s haunting vocals navigate the space between Cyndi Lauper and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand with tranquil ease. The result is a four-track collection that floats along as if wrapped in a gauzy haze, melding ethereal indie pop with ’80s yacht rock to create the sonic equivalent of a dip in a crystal-clear pool. This Monday, Pure Bathing Culture makes its Santa Barbara debut as the opening act for fellow Portlanders STRFKR. Below, we play the getting-to-know-you game with Versprille and guitarist Daniel Hindman, who also serve as two-fifths of San Fran indie folk act Vetiver.

How did you two meet? We met in college, actually at freshman orientation.

Can you tell me a bit about the origins of PBC? Well, we didn’t really start writing music together until mid 2009. At that time, we were touring quite a bit with Vetiver, and we weren’t taking our own music too seriously. We were working intermittently on some rough demos of the songs that are now on our EP. We feel really fortunate to have had all the experiences we’ve had playing in Vetiver. It’s definitely influenced where we are with this project.

Where did the name Pure Bathing Culture come from? Dan’s brother was studying abroad in Switzerland for his master’s in architecture. He relayed to Dan an experience he’d had at the Therme Vals Spa there. He had spent a day at the spa in various mineral pools, and the last session of the day was called “Pure Bathing Culture.” That last session included wading through different pools in complete silence. We were inspired by the spirituality and aesthetics of bathing culture in general and the places in which it occurs. It’s come to mean something more to us than just that of course, but it’s a little hard to describe.

You guys recorded the EP with Richard Swift. What did he bring to the recordings? A lot. There’s a very distinct vibe and process to the way Richard works. He likes to move fast in the studio and is very encouraging of keeping first takes. This process definitely contributes to the overall sound of the recordings he makes. Each of the songs on the EP were completed in less than a day’s worth of time. A couple of them were recorded very late at night. … He is an amazing musician and an incredibly intuitive and talented person. Working on our music with him has been a truly rewarding experience.

When can folks expect to get their hands on a full-length album? We’re almost finished writing and would like to be in the studio sometime around the end of the year. So hopefully the full-length will be out early next year.

What does the live setup look like for this upcoming string of dates? We’ll be playing as a trio, which is generally how we play most shows these days. We did some shows as a quartet by adding a drummer, and that went well. But right now, we’re really focusing on doing as much as we can as a three-piece. We’ll be joined on this tour by our friend Zach Tillman, who will be playing bass.

What’s on the tour playlist thus far? Dan was actually just working on a tour playlist the other day. It includes: Roy Montgomery, The Blue Nile, Fleetwood Mac, The Durutti Column, The Temptations, Zombies, The Green Arrows Band, a lot of stuff from a Tropicália comp that we’ve been into, Cocteau Twins. All kinds of stuff.


Pure Bathing Culture plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Monday, October 15, with STRFKR and Onuinu. Call 962-7776 or visit for tickets and info.


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