Jon Courtney from Pure Reason Revolution on the making of Above Cirrus

Interview with Jon Courtney from Pure Reason Revolution on the new album ‘Above Cirrus’

Pure Reason Revolution have returned with a new album titled Above Cirrus, their second album since reuniting a couple of years ago with Eupnea.  Here, main songwriter and singer Jon Courtney talks about the new album and touring once again.

Read our review of Above Cirrus here.

So you last released Eupnea a couple of years ago and then of course the pandemic hit. How much did that set back your return plans?
Yeah, it wasn’t long. It was album and then probably spoke and our manager and it was quickly apparent that nothing would be happening soon. The tour ended up being put back, I think three or four times. And yeah, we just began recording again almost as soon as Eupnea came out. It was straight back into recording, but generally I’m always recording anyway. So there’s not usually this huge gap between finishing something and starting something. It’s sort of a continuous process anyway. So I was quickly back into recording in the Berlin studio after Eupnea came out.

When did you decide to go back and work on Above Cirrus? How did it get started?
“New Kind of Evil” was the first track and that just started in Berlin and I was chipping away at that by myself. Probably got that one in good shape. I can’t remember what I started after that, maybe it was “Lucid” after that or maybe “Phantoms”. Greg and I tried a couple of things online, a couple of collaborations and it was alright. It worked quite well, you know, like using Zoom and plus sort of some linking software with the music software and that worked okay. One thing we got out of that was the first track “Our Prism”. That track started with a whole sort of ambient section before it which ended up getting scrapped because we just weren’t really feeling it. I think it was Greg’s idea. One of the last sessions he just said ‘John, I think this first section is a bit uninspiring so I think we just chop off this first bit and let’s work on the second section’ and it took me a while to get my head around this. Then I just thought you know what, you’re right, let’s jump this whole first bit and then we’ve got just this really high tempo intro.

Was there an overall concept going in?
I think this one was more a song by song basis. I don’t know if I can say there’s a sort of a direct concept that runs through it. Often my lyrics deal with relationships and relationships are more under the microscope than ever under this covid time, sort of how we can be so tender loving one minute and then a few flashes later it’s a different story and we’re tearing into each other. Our bubbles got very small, we had this fortunate thing we managed to get out of Berlin. We got out of the city to the countryside .I found this land with a hut on it and we stayed a lot in this small bubble out in the countryside which was absolutely awesome. We were very privileged to get out of our small 50 square meters apartment on the fourth floor to then just be out at nature and there was some amazing discoveries, some beautiful things but there was also an intensity like we’ve never experienced before. I’m sure other people had similar experiences so a lot of the lyrics are occupied with this relationship thing.

Talk about the first single “New Kind of Evil?
The title I would say probably comes back to the arrival of the pandemic. What’s this new kind of evil we have? Oh my God, are we all going to die? Tours cancelled, work cancelled can’t see family everything’s gone out the window that all normality is changing quickly but then within this I talked about coming out to this hut that we had out in the country and I got quite into woodwork. I talk about this dovetail a few times in it. And this dovetail joint is this woodwork joint where two things where the wood comes together and harmoniously fits a really strong bond. It’s about how we can have these ups and downs and this intensity. But then we come back to this really strong bond and we stick together, we repair things, recommends we move on.

You just did your first run of shows in a long time, what was it like?
It was great. We finished Eupnea and the record came out right at the beginning of covid-19 and we didn’t get to tour it and that was really quite weird. You always do a record, you play some shows, you get some fan feedback. You see people’s faces light up when the new riff comes in from whatever new song and that sort of gives you. You get feedback that’s infectious and then that sort of spurs you on. And we missed that. So we got to the point Eupnea came out and then it was like, well, we can’t play shows, what can we do? Of course we can record because everyone is stuck in rooms at the moment, so I might as well be stuck in a recording studio. So we started recording again. But yeah, it was great that we could turn around another record so quickly, but we missed the show. So getting back out there for these shows was brilliant. We still didn’t know if even up to a couple of weeks before the tour if the German shows were going to be possible because of the restrictions. But everything was possible, we made all the shows and it was great to see the fan reaction. People came out, some people with masks, some without. But it was just great to be out there and have this other side of music. Only sort of half of it is being in the studio. The other half is the whole life thing and thank God it’s back.

Any plans for more soon?
We have a couple of festivals in Europe. We’ve got a German festival and a Poland festival. I’m not sure if we’ll get out to do another lot of shows. I’m not too sure how it works. I don’t know if that happens because this year is going to be such a boom for live now that it’s allowed. Maybe it’s not going to be possible to do something in the autumn, in the fall but I would be up for doing that, but maybe it would make sense to do it in spring, next year or something. I think venues are going to be this for 2022 will just be absolutely full with bookings. So maybe spring, next year is more likely.

Above Cirrus is available now.

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