Local band Pure X doesn’t really care about playing in Austin

David Sackllah

Local psych band Pure X is an enigma. The band has almost no involvement in the Austin music scene, but has managed to find
success nationwide. 

Pure X recently signed to Fat Possum Records and released its third album, Angel, earlier this month. The band receives considerable coverage from alternative-focused music websites and just finished a Northeast tour opening for Real Estate.

The band’s upcoming show at Empire Control Room on Saturday night is its first local show in six months. Outside of the occasional appearance at South By Southwest, Pure X only plays about two shows in Austin every year. 

“Austin is what it is,” drummer Austin Youngblood said. “I like to live there, but we don’t really like playing the game in Austin. There are just too many people playing, so we stay out of that.”

For Youngblood and the rest of the band, Austin is a good place to relax from touring and work on new music. While they enjoy playing for their friends in town, there isn’t a lot of local support beyond that.

“As far as doing the circuit and keeping your name out in Austin, there’s not a lot of reasons for us to spin those wheels,” Youngblood said. 

Youngblood said part of the reason the band doesn’t play in Austin often is because it finds more success touring and playing shows in larger cities. According to Youngblood, the band can play a show in Los Angeles or San Francisco to a crowd three to four times the size of a crowd in Austin and make three to four times as much money. 

“We can fly to New York and play three shows in three days and play to more people than a year of doing a show a month in Austin,” Youngblood said. “No one wants to pay us. We go where people pay.”

Youngblood said the band first found success from touring around the country, distributing its early recordings and making friends and connections in those cities. 

One local event that Pure X enjoys playing is Austin Psych Fest, which it will play in a few weeks. The band plays the festival every
other year.

“Psych Fest is cool,” Youngblood said. “It’s like the one thing that happens in town that’s remotely exciting for us, anyway.”

Angel is a more relaxed and atmospheric companion to the band’s earlier work, which Youngblood attributed to the calm nature of the album’s recording process. Angel was recorded in an old dance hall just outside of Shiner, Texas.

“We didn’t have any kind of stress,” Youngblood said. “Our headspace was a big factor. We wanted to do something chill and relaxed.”

Comparatively, Pure X’s 2013 album, Crawling Up he Stairs, was recorded during a stressful period for the band. Singer Nate Grace had just suffered a severe leg injury from a skateboarding accident, and that partly led to what Youngblood called the group’s most challenging record. After it was released, Youngblood said the band wanted to return to the studio immediately and show people other aspects of its sound.

Another big change in the band’s dynamic for the recording of Angel was the addition of multi-instrumentalist Matt Davidson. Davidson had been touring with the band for a few years, playing instruments such as synthesizers and 12-string acoustic guitars, but didn’t become a full member of the band until last year.

“When we got home from touring, we all just figured he would stick around because we knew we would need those elements on the next record and tour in the future,” Youngblood said. “It’s nice to have him.”