Ugly Purple Sweater is a indie-pop-folk group based in DC. Founded by Sam McCormally (vocals, guitar, & more) and Rachel Lord (vocals, banjo, melodica, & more) in 2008, the band now includes Will McKindley-Ward on electric guitar, Rishi Chakrabarty on bass, and Mike Tasevoli on drums. Ugly Purple Sweater mixes mesmerizing guitar and banjo (and a bunch of other instruments) with beautiful soaring vocal melodies and dulcet harmonies. Their songs often blend darkness with light, minor keys and longing juxtaposed with a bright beat and jubilant vocals. Singer Sam Cormally’s clarion voice has a purity and depth at times reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright. Check out the video for their song “DC USA“, the title track from their brand new EP. Ugly Purple Sweater celebrates the release of said EP, DC USA at Black Cat this Saturday, January 12th, along with Kingsley Flood and Kindlewood!
This week We Love DC’s Alexia Kauffman had a chance to ask Sam McCormally some questions, and here’s what he had to say.
Alexia: How did you first start playing music?
Sam: I personally started playing and writing music when I was really little. I remember when I was about 8 starting to write songs, but having literally no idea how the music I heard on the radio was made. I had a little cassette tape boombox (remember that?) with a microphone, and I would set it up on top of my bureau and record myself singing and strumming guitar. I had a fantasy that I would slip the tape into my friend’s older sister’s tape player so she’d think it was the radio, and that way I could tell what she really thought of it.
Ugly Purple Sweater started 2008, when I surreptitiously intercepted an invitation for one of my other bands to play at a Barack Obama fundraiser. I had been writing some songs and posting them on MySpace (remember that?), and I thought it’d be fun to try them out. Rachel sat in on a couple of songs with me, and those were by far the most popular, so we started playing together all the time.
Alexia: What song or artist or album first made you fall in love with rock music?
Sam: Will (who plays electric guitar in the band) says his first rock and roll love was Jimi Hendrix. I wish I were as cool as that. My first exposure to pop music (and I’m using the “big tent” meaning of the phrase) were my dad’s Simon and Garfunkel tapes. But the first record I ever got excited about all by myself was TLC’s Crazy Sexy Cool. I loved that album so much that I actually recited, in front of my entire 4th glad class, the rap in the middle of “Waterfalls.” I still kinda like that song, but needless to say it was not a canonical performance. Continue reading