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Dope Purple- Grateful End (2021 Riot Season Records)

I love a lot about the new Dope Purple album Grateful End, but perhaps the thing I hold most dear about it are the quiet parts. The hazy, bluesy meanderings at the start of songs that will later on most likely erupt into noisy psychout volcanoes. I love the way guitar feedback mimics dolphin sonar while the vocals wail unintelligible shamanic gibberish washed out with holy reverb.

There are four songs on Grateful End, opener My Evilness being my personal favorite. When you close your eyes you will be able to see the band standing quietly on a smoke filled stage, their long black hair waving in the warm summer breeze. The atmosphere is dense, the amount of smoke emanating from the stage drowns in the amount that steams from the audience below, and gradually building, a guitar starts setting itself on fire.

Cosmic Rock Is Not Dead is next, simply proving its point. It’s Dope Purple jamming, vocals wailing, and the over-distorted guitars swelling until breaking point, after which a mind-boggling hunt to the end of the song kicks the whole thing into orbit. Repeat it until it breaks seems to be the adagium, after which you can build up again and start anew.

The Last Days Of Humanity starts off with another one of those mesmerizing singing dolphin-ridden intros. It’s the beauty and quiet blues after the distortion blizzard that feels like such a holiday in the sun, you might want it to last forever. Alas, there is an apocalypse to catch! So onwards we fly, uptempo, distorted guitars gyrating into oblivion.

Album closer New Man brings on a strong Stooges vibe, with a heavy freakout stoner boogie that’ll get your feet tapping like a crazy person. It’s a short rager, like the band wanted to give a farewell salute and ending the album and the world with a big, ugly bang; even going full blast beat near the end. It’s a good way to end this enigmatic little record, an experience that leaves your mind sizzling and your ears ringing.

I had so many questions after listening to Grateful End on repeat for a bunch of rounds! Luckily band member and main composer K.P. Liu was friendly enough to provide some much needed context:

Hi Dope Purple! Can you please introduce yourself to the ignorant weirdoes out there? And how did you choose your name?

I’m K.P. Liu from Dope Purple. 
The following answers are my answers to your questions as a composer, which are mainly my personal thoughts and do not represent all members of Dope Purple. Dope Purple is a five-piece psychedelic rock band that started its activities in Taipei, Taiwan in 2016. The musicianship is influenced by Western Hard Rock and Japanese Noise Psychedelic Rock. The name Dope Purple fulfills all three criteria: one is easy to remember, the second is easy to understand the musicality from the name, and the third is to attract people’s attention. Our musicianship is mainly guitar solos, with speedy riffs, and a psychedelic freak out, so I thought the band would become a psychedelic noise rock version of Deep Purple, and I came up with this name. I also hope that old fans of 70’s rock will listen to our music, as well as young fans who have never heard of 70’s rock will listen to Deep Purple’s music.


How has this Covid year been for you as a band? What changed, what stayed the same?

Since the Taiwanese government’s response to Covid was successful, there was only a short period of time when live events were restricted in Taiwan, so fortunately there was no serious impact on the band’s live activities so far. However, because our recording engineer is Japanese, and the label and vinyl factory are all overseas, there was a lot of influence from the perspective of making the album.


You are from Taiwan, how has living and being a musician in your country influenced you musically? 

Actually I (K.P. Liu) have roots in Japan and Taiwan, so my music is influenced by both Japan and Taiwan. In Japan I met Acid Mothers Temple, Hibushire, and other musicians in the underground rock scene, which formed my vision and know-how of Rock music. In Taiwan, I am more influenced by the noise musicians in Taiwan, which shaped my view on sound. I am a foreigner in both Japan and Taiwan, and because of this sense of isolation, I don’t want to make music that focuses on traditional culture or traditional music from one‘s own country, so Dope Purple tries to remove the obvious color of Orientalism. In terms of musicality, only the loud noise and chaos of our sound reflect the influence of Asian society on me.


I heard there is a “scene” where you live, can you tell me about it? Any bands or venues that are worth mentioning?

Taiwan’s scene is characterized by a relatively small population of musicians, so many of them play in other bands at the same time, so Taiwan’s scene looks like it has a number of bands, but the reality is that there are not that many musicians in the scene. In Dope Purple’s case, Jiun Chi (guitar) also plays in the psychedelic rock duo Mong Tong (https://gurugurubrain.space/collections/mong-tong), and Yunhao (synthesizer) plays in Afrobeat’s group Island Futurism (https://islandfuturism.bandcamp.com). Dope Purple usually plays in Taipei’s venue Revolver. The reason we play here is that the sound is better than other venues and we don’t have to pay a venue fee. Revolver basically accepts all types of musicians, it doesn’t seem to have its own “scene”, and We don’t often play with regular bands either, so it seems like Dope Purple doesn’t belong to any scenes of the Rock band. Also, there is a vinyl record store in Taipei called Senko Issha (we have released albums from there), and there are some awesome noise players here (please check out Senko Issha’s Bandcamp: https://senko-issha.bandcamp.com), and I personally interact with them quite often.

Island Futurism’s debut album that released early this year


Can you tell me about the writing process for Grateful End? I reckon there was quite a bit of jamming involved? How much was “written” and how much was improvised?

Dope Purple’s “songs” are all written by me, but what I actually do is provide a basic riff to the band, and the rule of playing Dope Purple is that we mainly follow the riff and do whatever we want on it. In other words, Dope Purple only uses one or two steps per song, and each step is a refrain of a single riff, on which all the members improvise, so it’s all improvisation except for the riff and a few specific melodies. This is because we all hate to practice and memorize scores. The advantage of this approach is that we all play a regular “song”, but we can still improvise at the same time. I think this approach is probably closer to jazz improvisation.
Because We improvise on all of our songs, so we use live recordings when we’re making the album. Grateful End also uses live recordings (we used two live recordings at Revolver), but the direction of Grateful End is to use live recordings to make a “studio” album, that is, we recorded with the sounds of each instrument, and then we added some work to the mix and mastering. so although the playing is completely based on live performance, it doesn’t sound like a live recording (especially the vinyl remix, in which I think the sounds become better than the CD, closer to the sound I originally intended). In other words, Dope Purple is doing live and recordings of every show.

Jiun Chi’s band Mong Tong

I love the way the vocals were recorded, very savage-like 😉 Did you try anything special to record them this way? 

Thanks, I was singing with Boss’ Reverb knobs set to maximum and then connected to the microphone.


What about the lyrical themes? Grateful End sounds a bit apocalyptic, is that the general idea? Is there a certain message you have to the world?

About the general idea, I wrote it on the Bandcamp page, please take a look. (https://riotseasonrecords.bandcamp.com/album/grateful-end)When I sing, I basically improvise, and although I sing some of the lyrics in Japanese, I don’t even know what I’m singing and the meaning. I think that behind my singing there is a “failure to communicate”. Because of language and cultural limitations, the loud sound of the instrument, I believe the lyrics are not properly understood by the audience. Therefore, I do not pay special attention to the “lyrics” with reason, but rather I believe that the ” shouting” with the feeling of a person transcends language, culture, and time and space. That’s why I write all the things I want to express in words on the Bandcamp page or FB page, not on the lyrics which can be easily misunderstood.


How did you came in contact with your label Riot Season? And what can you tell me about the WV Sorcerer label?

We didn’t contact Riot Season ourselves, it seems that Riot Season’s owner heard our recording somewhere and contacted us at the beginning of 2020, asking if we wanted to reissue the vinyl. Because we all love Riot Season’s work, we said yes immediately. (WV also joined the re-release of the vinyl later.) The owner of WV Sorcerer label is Ruotan, he is a Chinese living in France, he also makes noise music. In the past, he came to Taiwan to do live in Senko Issha, so I have a lot of mutual friends with him. Because of this he has the opportunity to hear our previous works released in Senko Issha, and We released Grateful End on CD and cassette from his label, WV Sorcerer mainly releases more experimental music of East Asia. I think the political situation in East Asia are not ideal for musicians, we really need the support of people like him.


What is your biggest dream for the future? And what are your immediate future plans?

The ultimate goal is to play Dope Purple until old age, and I want to achieve a certain kind of truth through playing music,
The immediate future plans are to release a new album next year and to tour overseas after the epidemic is finished.

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