Get to Know PuraPharm, Space City Space-Rockers

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PuraPharm is a Houston-based, five-piece psychedelic/space-rock group based whose musical stylings, according to various pundits, range from "ultra mellow space grooves" to "in-your-face psychedelic rock and roll with sax/clarinet, programmed beats and synths added to the overall wall of sound."

Formed from the ashes of a synth band called 61 Cygni, PuraPharm started around 2007, when guitarist Tessa Kole decided she needed to start a new band. She recruited then-co-worker Nikki Sims and began writing new material. Paul Adams came in on bass shortly after that, and PuraPharm started playing shows as a three-piece with programmed drums.

"Since then, our biggest milestones have been raising our fan base considerably, building our draw and making people aware of PuraPharm through any form of promotion possible," remarks Kole, also the band's lead singer.

The band plans to release a new EP this summer, after appearing at SXSW earlier this year and Best Female Vocals nominations for Kole in the 2012 and 2013 Houston Press Music Awards. The singer says they hope to expand their proflie with the EP by targeting college radio stations, among other avenues of promotion.

With the exception of Mike Jones, Lil Flip, Bun B, Paul Wall, and Chamillionaire, not much has been heard from H-Town nationally since ZZ Top and King's X years ago. Some might even argue the lack of a major record label here makes it more difficult to break out to the next level. When pressed to comment on the contrasting music scenes, Kole becomes circumspect.

"Comparing a hip hop scene and a rock and roll scene is like comparing apples and oranges," she says. "Both are still fruit, but have a different taste and texture. Hip-hop and rock and roll are both forms of music, but both have different players and people and each has a unique way of working."

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With a nod to influences like Curve and My Bloody Valentine, it would seem like PuraPharm might be a good fit for the UK, like Americans Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and the Dandy Warhols before them. But asked if the group ever dreams of playing large UK festivals like Glastonbury and T in the Park, Kole demurs.

"No band has success anywhere because of their influences," she says. "Bands have success because they work hard and work smart and with the right people over a period of time. Yes, we would love to eventually play in Europe. Until that happens or until our music is marketed there, I wouldn't know how well-received it could be. My hopes would be that it will."

However, fairly recent stateside breakouts by British acts the Ting Tings, Ladytron, Toy and Arctic Monkeys (who announced an October date at Cynthia Woods Pavilion this week) indicate that PuraPharm might stand at least a fighting chance overseas. But come what may, Kole sounds realistic about the band's future.

"In the upcoming year, I hope to see us playing bigger shows and some popular music festivals," she says. "I want to continue to meet and play with some of the most amazing musicians around and continue to have fun playing."

Tessa Kole and PuraPharm perform at 7 p.m. Thursday at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk.


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