EDITORS NOTE: This is an interview that Dave (Oklahoma Lefty) did with Aree of Aree and the Pure Heart back in 2015. Aree and the Pure Heart just recently signed with Wiretap Records so I thought now would be a good time to re-publish it.
Aree and the Pure Heart’s debut EP Heartsongs is nothing short of brilliant.
Fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Dave Hause, and later-day Against Me! need to be listening to this band. Seriously, they are that good.
This interview was conducted via email November 10 – 16, 2015.
Dave: When did you first start playing and writing music? How did the band get together?
Aree Ogir: I started singing in a punk rock band in when I was 14. I had never sang publicly before, but I heard about some kids that had a band. I invited myself over and told them I would be their singer. I grew up in a small town on the Georgia coast, so being in a band and skateboarding was our entire life. I played in a few other bands after that, but nothing that lasted too long. Then I just entered a home recording phase…writing songs in various genres, but never put anything out. This past April (2015)After many years of not being involved with music publicly, I decided to write songs with the intention of putting out a record. I played some demos for my friend Joey (owner, Aria Recording Studio) and he is the main reason this actually materialized. Another long time friend, Sheppard, played drums on the Ep and I did everything else. I could barely believe I was actually making a record, so to think that playing live with a band would happen was a long shot. A few weeks after the record came out, I decided to try to play as a full band, and Shep, Joey, and my friend Chris agreed to give it a go. So we just started playing as a result of the EP coming out.
Dave: What’s the story behind the name Aree and the Pure Heart?
Aree: well… I’m the Aree, haha…but the name The Pure Heart was just always in the back of my mind. I wrote a song that had a line “I want a pure heart” and it just always resonated with me. My firstborn also had to have open heart surgery at 4 months old, and I’ve always remembered this verse from Psalms that says, “who can ascend the hill of the Lord, He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” So, it is just sort of a recurring theme in my life. It is ultimately an aspiration, more than a claim. I look back on things and think about the purity of being young. I look forward to attaining a level of purity in my intentions toward others in this life…and I experience purity through my children. It’s kinda like…where we came from and where we are headed. It’s the present that just seems to be a bit complicated for me.
Dave: For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?
Aree: I always tell people that it’s just rock n roll with punk flair.
Dave: You recently released your debut EP Heartsongs. What’s the story behind the record? Why did you decide to go the self-release route instead of working with a traditional record label?
Aree: basically, I impulsively decided to make a rock n roll record. I started waking up really early and driving to empty parking lots to write songs before sunrise. That way I could just be alone and loud and work things out. After a few weeks of that, I had a handful of songs that I thought would work for the project. Recorded over the summer and sent it out into the world. I wish I had a label to work with, but truth is I don’t really know a lot of people. I’ve already written the follow up, and I would love a label to help me put it out! J
Dave: Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?
Aree: I do hope to tour in the future. Probably after I record the next album. As far as playing goes, I just love doing it. I am happy to play anywhere!
Dave: Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?
Aree: I’m always thinking about writing songs. I don’t have a specific process. Sometimes I write on piano, sometimes guitar. Sometimes I’ll start with lyrics first…it all just depends. I like the way Tom Petty describes it: “It’s kinda a dangerous business looking really deeply into the germ that creates songs.. I don’t like to stare at that light too long, I get a little superstitious about it… There’s some kinda actual magic going on there.”
Dave: What are your thoughts on the music scene in Atlanta?
Aree: I’ve only played a handful of shows. So far, I only know that there are a ton of great bands and people in Atlanta. There are some dudes who work really hard to make the local scene thrive. Shout out to Amos Rifkin, Steve Johnson, and Lee Satterfield, and many more!
Dave: This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors?
Aree: This is impossible… the only thing I can ever say for sure is that Operation Ivy “Energy” is my favorite album of all time. Jesse Michaels has forever left me in awe with his lyricism (especially in the post OPIVY project Big Rig) I can name a lot of other bands that I love, but that is the one I can always say without question.
I don’t really watch many movies, but I really like Beetlejuice and an Israeli film called Ushpizin.
The book thing is kinda weird for me because I generally only read religious/philosophical texts. Baal haSulam, Ken Wilber, Rabindrinath Tagore, Michael Laitman, the Bible, Gitanjali, etc. the one fiction book that has always stuck with me is The Catcher in the Rye. Strangely, I find myself understanding Holden Caulfield more and more as time passes.
Dave: What’s next for the band?
Aree: play lots of shows, record the next record, and I personally would like to do a lot more acoustic performances.
Dave: Any final thoughts?
Aree: thank you very much! I just want to say I’m so happy to play and record music. I want to share that with everyone!