High Hopes: Purple

Boredom gets a bad press in rock’n’roll. But really, what would generations of musicians have done without it? The latest beneficiary of its motivational power is Purple, who escaped the ennui of Beaumont, an oil town in East Texas where “there’s not much to do but get drunk and party”, by forming one of 2014’s most thrilling garage rock bands.

Led by the blizzard of blonde hair and howling charisma that is singing drummer Hanna Brewer, alongside guitarist/singer Taylor Busby and bassist Joe Cannariato, their new album (409) is a joyous punk-rock noise that blasts from your speakers like it’s gatecrashing your living room.

Purple have recently been pricking up the ears of UK audiences by supporting The Subways and Broncho, but they’re one of those bands that make instant best mates with any crowd. Brewer’s banshee enthusiasm is impossible to resist, as she manages the feat of singing, drumming, bouncing up and down on a drum stool and sporting a dazzling array of self-designed sparkly bikini tops. “It’s kind of like jogging and screaming at the same time, with your shirt off,” she explains. “You should try it some time…”

It helps that she’s been playing drums since the age of eight, which meant that when, as a 17-year-old, she badgered the then 20-year-old Taylor Busby into taking time out from his reggae band to jam with her, she quickly disproved his assumption that she was “just some pushy kid”.

Over the five years that followed, songwriting sessions in her garden shed turned into regular self-promoted shows and house party gigs that earned them a sizeable local following. Their initially No Doubt-influenced ska-pop sound hardened through gigging into a harder, punkier sound, as evidenced on recent singles Wallflower and Leche Loco, which are fuelled by the same anarchic spirit that has made their gigs riotous affairs.

“Our sound guy quit on one tour because we kept wrecking the equipment every night,” admits Busby. “We had to stop eventually ’cos we couldn’t afford new instruments.”

Of course, all this is also caused by other kinds of spirit: the kind that comes in bottles. “Yeah, sometimes we’ve been so wasted we couldn’t play. So we’ve got a tour manager now who rations our booze so we can still see straight before we go on!”

Still, it can make for some good shows, and although it’s been

a while since the entire stage was invaded, making it impossible to play – as regularly happened at their house party gigs – Purple’s avowed intent as they win over other bands’ audiences is to “shrink that gap between the crowd and the stage”, as Busby puts it. “Win people over within two or three songs.”

“And if you still don’t feel it,” adds Brewer, “well, fuck yoooou! We’re still gonna love every minute.”

(409) is out now on Play It Again Sam Records.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock