The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are perhaps the most recognisable band in the Playbutton company’s catalogue, having had their second album, Belong, released on the format.
“It’s a really good idea,” says singer Kip Berman. “There’s so many attempts these days to recreate a bygone era, with people reissuing music on tape or whatever. There’s this fundamentalist view of things being better back then, and that everything became corrupted. And I think that’s a dangerous attitude to take towards music. You should always respect the past, but at the same time you should be thinking up new ways of expression and creativity.
“The Playbutton idea is a wonderful way of taking a physical thing that’s readily identifiable with music, and totally transforming the context in which it’s understood by using it as an MP3 player. I had a couple of Playbuttons on me at SXSW last month, and rather than just pointing people to a place to download it, or say it’s on iTunes, I could just hand people this button. And there was something wonderful about that physical interaction with people, being able to actually hand them something.”
The button’s lack of a shuffle switch also means that a band’s painstaking tracklisting won’t be in vain. “We like the sense of craft that bands put into making an album, and the difference between making an album and a singles collection is really important to a band like ours. So the fact that people will get to listen to the album in its entirety is important.”
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart play Dublin’s Button Factory on June 1