Cincinnati shoegaze rockers the Pomegranates recently released Heaven, their fourth studio album in as many years. The LP is this week’s Top Debut on the CMJ charts, and as the album’s name suggests, the band looked in a bit of a different direction—mostly upward—for inspiration, addressing intangible concepts like spirituality and hopes and dreams. With the assistance of producer Miguel Urbiztondo in the studio, the band found the space-pop sweet spot creating an album reminiscent of early Modest Mouse.
“Surfing The Human Heart,” Heaven‘s closing track, stands out as a glowing ballad in which vocalist Isaac Karns addresses the “son of God.” Get a first look at the “bare” and “vulnerable” video for that track above, and keep reading to see what Karns had to say about the band’s spirituality, his idea for the baptism- and blood-filled video, and the decision to pick a slow song for the album’s first video.
There seems to be a lot of Biblical imagery surrounding the video for “Surfing The Human Heart,” with the images of baptism, lyrics about the “son of God” and the Heaven album title. How did that happen? Are you a particularly spiritual band?
I think there has always been a spiritual element to what we do, but with this record it seems a little more immediately perceptible. The song itself kind of just came to me lyrically and melodically one day while I was riding my bike home from work, and it kind of sat around for a few years, and then I showed it to the guys, and we figured [it] out when we were in the studio, so I think it’s been a very organic process all around.
You co-directed the video. Was it your idea to strip to your boxers and get drenched in blood (pomegranate juice?)?
The idea for the video came to me one day as I was getting ready for work and taking a shower, and I presented it to my friend Michael Leonard, and he was into it. The idea was to be very vulnerable and bare but also be provocative in a way that baptism or songs about Jesus or the son of God are not typically associated with. But really the whole idea of a baptism is very intense, and there is this idea where Jesus talks in the Bible a lot about drinking his blood and being washed in the blood, so the video was a way to translate that literally; a way that would cause the viewer to reinterpret the song itself and the themes that it is talking about. But it’s also a sort of simple love song, and like the Rolling Stones said: “If you want to baby, you can bleed on me.”
We shot it in a warehouse during the middle of winter with no hot water heater and just a spigot to wash all of it off, so it was indeed my idea, or I probably never would have agreed to it. My friend Nate Barton made all the fake blood. Unfortunately we could not afford to get five gallons of pomegranate juice.
This song is a departure from the up-tempo feel of the rest of Heaven. Was there a specific reason you chose “Surfing The Human Heart” for this album’s first video?
I don’t think there was a specific reason other than we had the idea and it worked out. But also a lot of people have responded very positively to the song, so maybe it will show a different side of what we do, ’cause everyone in the band is a fan of a good ballad. We had always joked about making a song for one of the ambient interludes on our last record, so this will suffice for now.