Stay Gold 

The "Badassery" of Pure Country Gold

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Patrick Foss makes a good point: "The local media likes to paint us as beer-swilling, dive-bar loitering plebeians," he writes in a recent email. He's right. (Granted, he later discussed this point with me as we swilled beer in a dive bar, but that is beside the point.) In the past I have personally used this paper to saddle his raucous musical outfit, Pure Country Gold, with such incendiary descriptors as "debaucherous," "last-call drunken rabblerousing," and "badassery." I stand by the latter (even if "badassery" is not really a word, per se), but Foss is right—Pure Country Gold has been musically typecast as troublemakers, a drink-you-under-the-table duo with little moral fortitude. For that, I offer my most sincere apologies.

In fact, Pure Country Gold—Foss on guitar and vocals, Jake Welliver on drums—are smarter than all that. While some bands approach music making as performers first, their own fandom a distant second, Foss is a music obsessive more than anything else. "I definitely think of myself as a fan first, because that's just the way it works." He continues, "I'm influenced by everything and I listen to everything."

Originally intended to be a larger vintage-sounding rhythm and blues act, complete with blaring horn section, Pure Country Gold could never get past the hurdle of finding a bass player, and killed that plan before ever recruiting their brass backing. "I really wanted this to be like an R&B revue," Foss says, before owning up to the reality that he's happy the way things are: "We never rule out bringing somebody in, but I think we're too lazy to make it happen."

With their R&B wings thus clipped, the band tumbled to earth with the more reckless sounds of no-frills punk, and the simplistic pleasures of squealing garage rock. With a ferocious backbeat established by Welliver, Foss assumes the role of the red-faced maniacal pitchman, delivering his raspy-voiced punk rock sermons in short blasts of deafening volume.

The Pure Country Gold noise traveled all the way to Oxford, Mississippi, where it caught the ear of Fat Possum Records' Bruce Watson, who drafted the band to record for his Big Legal Mess subsidiary label. The result of this is the band's forthcoming 7-inch slab—the artwork of which includes the presumably tongue-in-cheek tagline "arguably Portland's greatest bluesmen"—featuring their ode to Armageddon and domestic beer, "Yellow Bubbles," plus B-side track "Millionaire."

And while the band hasn't completely avoided the convenient call of compact discs, Foss acknowledges that when it comes to Pure Country Gold, and truly appreciating music, nothing topples king vinyl. "There's just more of a ritual about it. It makes listening to music not a secondary event." He adds, "It's more of a you-and-the-music thing. Instead of just throwing everything on random and just doing your thing, this requires your interaction."

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