Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Talking ‘Weirdon’ and the Philly music scene with Purling Hiss

While millions of Americans were sitting down to eat Thanksgiving dinner, Purling Hiss were getting ready to play a show.

While millions of Americans were sitting down to eat Thanksgiving dinner, Purling Hiss were getting ready to play a show.

The Philly band, headed by Mike Polizze (who also plays guitar for another local outfit, Birds of Maya, has toured with Kurt Vile, and got the War on Drugs' Adam Granduciel to produce a record), originally had a scheduled day off but decided to team up with some friends for a free Thanksgiving performance Louisville, KY.

Since then, he's been settling into life back at home following a solid month on the road, which began in New York City for CMJ Music Marathon in late October.

Purling Hiss have some time off ahead of them — until March when they head overseas — but not without one final jaunt in 2014, at the Arden Concert Gild in Wilmington, Del.

That time off, says Polizze — in the heart of winter, with its harsh temperatures and sedentary nature — is prime for working on new material.

"I've been getting the itch, too," Polizze said about writing. "I'll get ideas and try to jot them down on my phone and I'll be like, 'Can't wait to get home and work on that.'"

What will eventually materialize is hard to tell with Polizze having a knack for making minor tweaks with each album, most recently on September's Weirdon, which, turns out, isn't so weird. Or at least wasn't intended to be.

"I think that maybe some people, they thought it was going be weirder," he reveals. "I think by the end, that's the one that stuck out the most to me."

After a moment: "Its not that I set out: 'I'm going to make a weird album.'"

The sort of accidental descent into oddity came about mostly through the album's artwork, which is essentially a compilation of psychedelic, cartoon sketches Polizze had been doodling throughout the album's recording. When it came down to choosing a name, the art had lent itself to one of the final options: Weirdon.

"Sometimes visual aesthetics can be really strong," he offered as a simple explanation.

Stripping off some of the fuzz that's become Purling Hiss' namesake, tracks on Weirdon play a little cleaner but still come off extremely guitar-heavy and almost surf-rocky (think Wavves), a well-rounded collection tunes, grounded by the latest, homegrown incarnation of the Purling Hiss backing band: Ben Leaphart — also of Birds of Maya — on drums and Dan Provenzano — from another local band, The Writhing Squares — on bass.

Polizze's Philly ties go deeper than his band members and two aforementioned heavyweights Vile and Granduciel, but they run deepest in his collaborations in other projects throughout the city.

He describes it as a bit of a family tree. There's the guys in Birds of Maya: Polizze, Leaphart and Jason Killinger — who has another band called Spacin.' He also mentions Richie Records, who have previously put out albums by not only Purling Hiss but also Birds of Maya, Spacin' and Kurt Vile and the Violators.

"Back in 2004 or 2005, Birds of Maya stared playing with Kurt Vile's band when he and Adam from the War on Drugs played in each other's bands," Polizze explained. "I met Adam when he was playing with the Violators."

And then the rest is history: Vile took Purling Hiss on the road, Adam Granduciel had production credits on 2013's Water on Mars, and the lines between bands blurred even more, indicating the level of collaboration and camaraderie in the Philadelphia music scene.

"It seems really nice and a good thing to have a good community and a group of friends that kind of lend to each other and inspire. I think it's really nice."

Purling Hiss close out the year with a show at the Arden Concert Gild in Wilmington, Del. on Saturday, Dec. 6; tickets are still available.