Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs
There's an age when getting up before the middle of the afternoon every day feels like hell. It feels unnatural and just about the worst thing that could happen to a body. The sleeper believes that it's best to disregard any of the internal rhythms of said body and to reprogram them with what they want it to do. It's best to keep the shades pulled in tight, to keep the room temperature mostly autumn-like, to encourage more comfortable rest, and to not have too many aspirations that might get in the way of sleeping through more than half of every day. Some might see such a tendency as one of the greatest displays of laziness that ever lived and those believing that the glass might be half-full could see it as fitting your life exactly to your heart's content. This is no accusation that Piper Kaplan, the lead singer for the Los Angeles-based band Puro Instinct lives her life this way, but here's betting that it's not too far off the mark. It's not a bad thing, just her thing and it's what allows her the wooziness (well, that and the whiskey shots) that makes her band feel like those hazy excursions that she just woke up from, but didn't want to. It's that way of existence, where you either don't care or aren't awake enough to know that caring somewhat is needed to pass through to whatever might be next, or to open up some of the interlocked compartments, for the secret aromas, the bonus kisses or the hidden laugh lines.
Piper, who started the band with her younger sister Skylar, creates an atmosphere in her songs that seems like it pulled from the foggy pre-dawns of mornings that she never gets up to see, but rather stays up to see, with eyes that are either jittery and twitching, thanks to sleep deprivation or fading fast and taking it all in so that she can paper her dreams walls with that cloudy white when she finally lies down for a nightcap. Having only seen the band live once, it's hard to form what would ever feel like an accurate portrayal of Piper Kaplan, but at the Great American Music Hall this past February, she somewhat prowled the stage, but more than that shambled across it, gripping the microphone two-handed and closing her eyes tightly, as if to get away from that room while she sang. Her between song banter included calls for more alcohol to be delivered to the stage, wisecracks at the audience and a mumblecore sort of pacifist-style of cursing. She seemed like she would have rather been elsewhere, and in listening to the songs off of the band's debut full-length, "Headbangers On Ecstacy," we're pretty sure she wanted to be elsewhere. It sounds as if the ideal place for her is away from as much as possible. It helps if there's something to complain about - some ghost of her past, some riddle of a young man, some shadow of a lover - but she's able to send those memories through her own fuzzy filters that feather the edges to make them seem harmless and easily swallowed. For all of her attempts at being unwilling to give a shit most of the time, brilliantly drowsy songs such as "Lost At Sea" and older cut "Can't Take You Anywhere" are examples of it in payoff form, slinky pieces of music that will take you away from your head too.