BioPumarosa’s early existence has been defined by strange, distinctly different spaces. There’s the half-knocked down house in Peckham they played, where the band carried on performing despite a gas leak and an electricity shut down. A packed-out crowd watched through gaps in the walls and the landlords swore after they’d never allow a band to play there ever again. There’s also the old Italian cinema they were invited to write and record in by a local surrealist, early songs being developed in the company of dramatic clifftops on the Calabrian coast, local villagers coming to the cinema to witness night-time improvisation sessions. And there’s the Streatham studio of eccentric producer Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Bat For Lashes, TOY), the place where their debut album is beginning to take shape.
Live, they give the impression of a band with decades of experience playing together. Strange spaces again play a part, whether it’s a stirring gig at Shakespeare’s Globe, or one of the warehouse parties they played in their early days. It doesn’t matter where the stage is – Pumarosa know how to make their mark. Commanding from the front, Isabel Muñoz-Newsome throws shapes and bends notes with the same spirit, always finding new places for the band’s music to explore. Bassist Henry Brown and drummer Nicholas Owen seem to share a natural instinct as the rhythm section, while guitarist Jamie Neville and multi-instrumentalist Tomoya Sukuzi explore their own worlds. The latter splits duties between the saxophone, keys, and distorting Isabel’s vocals into strange abstractions. Everyone has their own distinct role, and it’s incredible to watch unfold. From stuffy practice rooms to disused cinemas, right through to every stage they’ve graced in the past year, there’s been a learning process, and that will in part inform an eventual full-length. “None of us having made an album before – that’s years of condensed experience,” says Nicholas. These songs have always been alive, in a way. Instead of being written, recorded and put to bed, they’ve re-developed, changing in scope as the band have progressed. “A long period of life has gone into these songs,” Isabel explains. It’s a patience that is already beginning to pay off for Pumarosa – that rare breed of new band who seem to emerge fully formed, and are bold enough to fold art, politics and progressive thought into their songwriting. For Isabel, it’s not only all connected, but of increasing responsibility (“I want to sing about females. Women’s characters and feelings, sexual or otherwise, are surprisingly unexplored compared to man-on-woman stuff”). Sometimes backstories run separate to the music itself, but everything goes hand-in-hand with Pumarosa, like a jigsaw puzzle that slots together without a second’s pause