Pura Vida are an up and coming Leeds/York based quartet originally from Selby. They’re made up of Tom Hogan (vocals and guitar), Piers Mansell (bass guitar), Jack Ledger (guitar) and Tom Ansell (drums). I first saw them supporting King No-One at Fibbers last month and have not stopped listening to their EP ‘Sundae’ since. Quickly taking my Spotify by storm and probably being my most played artist over the past few weeks. I thought they had a unique indie sound. The guitar carries a surfer twang found in bands like FIDLAR and Bleeding Knees Club over a darker indie sound, with lyrics that have a less upbeat vibe.
After watching them sound check we headed over to KFC so Hogan could consume an unholy amount of Chicken. We figured we may as well conduct the interview in KFC. I did plan a list of questions to ask the lads in hopes of writing an ever so slightly more formal and chronological interview. But they kept answering my questions before I got round to asking them, so it became more of a prompted chat.
How does a new song comes about for you, do you all sit down together and write or is it waiting for a spark of inspiration etc?
They all looked at Hogan instantly to which an anticlimactic “Dunno” was given.
“Its collaborative, one of us might have an idea which we’ll then bring together as a band and then Tom (Hogan) will put it together.” They all chipped in to make that a constructive answer. Following this I asked Hogan what inspires him when he’s writing lyrics. I found out that Sundae was written on a windowsill, it sounded very picturesque.
“I’ll start with a theme, usually something I’ve experienced or that I’ve seen happen to someone, then just write about it, but in a non-specific, indirect way.”
How much influence do you take from the bands you like? How much do you think it shows in your music?
Hogan: “We’ve been compared to The Smiths but I don’t agree.”
We then spoke about Drowners for a while, both the guys and myself are big fans. When I saw Pura Vida in December one of the first things I said to my friend when they began playing was that they reminded me of Drowners. I still think this, not just musically with their similar indie rock sound but also in the way they hold themselves on stage. They don’t overdo it, nothing is forced.
Which bands do you take influence from?
“Shall I just put ‘Indie white boy bands’ down?” I joked, they laughed and agreed.
“But no in all seriousness…” The four of them then named a few bands that inspire them: Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Family Rain, Districts.
“Arctic Monkeys is a big one, especially in our earlier days” Jack said.
“I think we do take a lot of influence from Drowners and The Smiths but not lyrically, more through guitar.” Said Hogan. “We kinda sound a bit like The Cure guitar wise.”
Do you think having an image is important?
They said they thought it was important to uphold themselves and have some sort of image to show what you’re about.
“You want to look like a union.” Said Ansell.
“Yeah you want to look presentable.” Piers agreed. “You don’t want to go on stage wearing joggers or looking scruffy.”
“Do you all have a white guitar/bass guitar on purpose, to hold up an aesthetic?”
“Not on purpose but its worked out nicely.”
Piers then gave me a story about his bass “I was looking at a white bass, but then I saw a slightly more expensive version I ended up preferring which was black, so I was going to get that but they didn’t have it in black, so I just got white.” A bit of laughter followed.
“At first we wore a lot of black on stage, which looked good against the white.” Jack stated, which lead me to my next question.
When Pura Vida are on stage they have a great stage presence, they’re effortlessly cool and you can see they’re having fun playing for you without forcing anything.
How important do you think a good stage presence is?
Hogan: “An audience can read you, so if you don’t look bothered, they’re not going to be bothered either.”
“You don’t want to be fake.” Said Ansell, which up-roared a bit of banter about sounding cliché.
Piers: “It’s also good to have a bit of balls.”
Jack: “You want to be nice lads as part of the music industry”
What’s your favourite track you’ve released so far?
Hogan and Piers agreed on ‘Backroads’ whilst Ansell and Jack agreed on ‘Sundae’.
Ansell: “I love the jam, it sounds really summery and I really like playing it live.”
Hogan: “Because I think the chorus is catchy and I like the way we lead into the solo.”
Pura Vida only formed around February 2016, having only done around 15 shows so far. I asked them if they think they’ve developed much since they first formed:
“I think we’re less happy now.” Stated Hogan, they all nodded in agreement to this.
Piers: “I think we’re a bit darker now, we’ve got a bit more grit.”
What are your plans for 2017, what do you want to have done by this time in 2018?
Hogan: “Record new music.”
Hogan: Yeah maybe, we want to release three singles over the year. And I want us to play some festivals. That’s my main goal.”
“To try and tour with a band.” Piers put in, they all mmm’d and nodded in agreement.
For a band that’s been going for less than a year I think they’re doing really well for themselves and sound great. You can tell they’re hard working lads with a strong passion for what they do, yet they’re completely modest and humble. They don’t take themselves too seriously or have egos. Just four dudes making great tunes and playing them even better on stage.
Facebook: Pura Vida Facebook
Interview & live photos: Holly Elizabeth