Hanna Brewer, Vocals & Drums
Taylor Busby, Vocals & Guitars
Joe Cannariato, Bass
On their second album Bodacious, the Texas trio known as Purple delivers a dozen joyously raucous, deliriously hook-crazy new rock anthems that showcase the threesome’s infectious party spirit and lurching power-trio punch, incorporating funk, reggae and hip-hop beats to make raw, relentless catchy music that’s already won the band a loyal international fan base.
“We’re not trying to be anything,” asserts drummer/vocalist Hanna Brewer. “We’re just having fun and doing what we like. Sometimes it feels like we don’t fit in anywhere, but that’s just made us more stubborn about doing it our way.”
Indeed, such uninhibited new numbers as “Mini Van,” “Birthday,” “Bliss,” “Medicated” and the lyrically pointed “Pretty Mouth” live up to the Lone Star threesome’s reputation for uplifting mayhem. Their new tunes make good on the challenge that the band laid down on its self-released debut album (409)—titled in honor of the band’s hometown area code—and in its notoriously intense live shows.
Purple’s irreverent spirit was instilled in the band’s formative days in its conservative hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Beaumont’s esteemed musical history (which encompasses guitar icon Johnny Winter, slap-bass originator Larry Graham, bluesman Blind Willie Johnson and ill-fated ’50s rocker The Big Bopper) was less of an influence on Purple than the city’s conservative culture, which stoked the natural rebelliousness of founding members Hanna Brewer and Taylor Busby. The pair bonded over their shared musical inspirations—as well as their mutual interests in beer, weed and adventure—after Taylor’s reggae band played on a local bill with a band in which Hanna was playing bass.
“There aren’t many bands in Beaumont, so there were no trends for us to follow,” explains Taylor. “After I met Hanna, my ideas about music, and my way of writing songs, changed a lot.”
“Taylor was the first person I was ever able to write with,” Hanna adds. “When we started jamming together, our voices came together like one voice. He took some of my stuff and I took some of his stuff, and that became our style. We were all just drunk and pissed-off, and we never thought much about what kind of music we wanted to play. We just played together, and this is what came out.
“I don’t want to talk shit on my hometown,” says Hanna, whose musician parents played in their church band and had a small home recording studio. “But where we’re from, there’s a lot of very old-school views and a lot of white Southern pride. There’s good people there, but they have a way of looking at things that’s not our way of looking at things, so we were almost saying ‘Fuck you’ with our music. I held so much anger in me until I graduated from high school. Then I started partying more and channeling my anger into the music. That’s what Purple is about.”
Hanna and Taylor played for awhile as a duo before recruiting original bassist Tyler Smith, who played on the self-released (409). Current bassist Joe Cannariato had signed on by the time the album was reissued by the band’s current label, Play It Again, Sam.
“I like being a trio,” says Taylor. “I’m really stubborn when it comes to the songwriting, so having a fourth person would just drive me crazy. Being a trio is a challenge, because it forces you to be more creative.”
“Not a lot of people can handle all the insanity of me and Taylor when we’re on the road,” Hanna adds. “Our old bass player Smitty just said ‘This is too much for me, y’all are insane.’ We’re still friends, though.”
The trio’s combustible chemistry powers Bodacious, which they recorded in Texas and Germany with producer Rick Parker (Beck, Scott Weiland).
“There’s a lot of different things on it,” Taylor says of the album. “We like everything, so there were no rules about what we could and couldn’t do. We didn’t have a real plan of how it was gonna sound, because if you think about it too much, it comes out unnatural. Most of the songs just came from jamming; we all just play together and something will just come out of nowhere.”
“Most of the album was recorded very live and pretty spontaneous,” Hanna states. “We mostly just stayed drunk and didn’t think too hard about it, and just tried to catch things in the moment.”
Purple’s emphasis on instinct and spontaneity served the band well in the many months of touring that followed the release of (409).
“We originally put out the first album ourselves, and then we got signed to Play It Again, Sam and they rereleased it a year later, so we toured on that album for a long time,” says Taylor. “We did four months of touring in Europe last year. That was really hard, but it definitely made us a better band and stronger people.”
“They like us in Europe,” Hanna says. “People there really seem to appreciate the positive attitude and energy that we have on stage. But we toured there for so long that we started to lose our minds. No sunshine, being in the van 24/7, drinking way too much. We’d be in the street fighting after the show, screaming at each other and tearing at each other’s clothes. At some places in Europe they didn’t think we were real. They thought that we were putting some kind of act, but it’s just us.
“Everybody is just so serious, but music is entertainment, man, and it shouldn’t be such a serious thing,” she continues. “We’re always just trying to be fun. I like visuals; that’s why I take off my shirt or get up and twerk, and I try to move my whole body when I’m playing the drums. When the band is loose, then the crowd loosens up too. We’ve definitely played a few shows where we confused the crowd and they just stared at us. But that brings you back down to earth and reminds you not to take yourself so seriously.”
“We’re not trying to be some kind of joke band,” Taylor concludes. “We care about our songs and how we play them. But we also have a sense of fun and a sense of humor about what we do, and we know that the music works best when we just get up on stage and don’t give a fuck.”