Search The Line of Best Fit
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Proceed to Memory : Best Fit speaks to Pinback

Proceed to Memory : Best Fit speaks to Pinback

07 January 2013, 14:50


The reason I love Pinback is that they’re a comforting band to listen to. That might not sound like the most thrilling of reasons, but across five albums and thirteen years, San Diego’s Rob Crowe and Armistead Burwell “Zach” Smith IV have produced reliably brilliant music, the highlight coming in 2004’s Summer In Abaddon, an album of metronomic time signatures, airily wonderful guitar interplay and pleading, insistent-yet-restrained vocals.

Things rarely change in Pinback’s world, and that’s probably how they like it. ‘Do it at your own pace’ could be the band motto. So it’s not really much of a surprise to find that it’s been five years between Autumn of the Seraphs and the new album Information Retrieved. The new record was heralded back in 2011 via two EP releases, Information Retrieved, Pt A and Pt B, both recorded especially for Black Friday, but playing a part in understanding the album, as we’ll find out later. We were able to catch up with band leader Rob Crowe, over a dodgy phone line, to find out a little more about his latest release.

Rob was able to briefly chat to me about Pinback’s new record (“I’m on my way to my kid’s field trip…ice skating”) and we began by discussing the five year gap between Autumn of the Seraphs and Information Retrieved. “Well, we kind of took five years to write the record,” says Crowe, “but in between that Zach put out a Three Mile Pilot album and a solo album, and I put out two solo albums, a Goblin Cock album and several other albums.” And it wasn’t all music-related shenanigans that took up Pinback’s time: “Zach had his first child, I had two more kids” he adds, before confirming that life is never straightforward and won’t give a fuck about dealing you a bad hand. “The record label [Absolutely Kosher] we were on went under,” continues Rob, “so we had to find a new record label and we lost one of our band members to cancer.” Perhaps I shouldn’t have pushed Crowe further on the last big blow for the band, but I went ahead and asked about how difficult it was to get the motivation to write another record after losing someone so close to him. The answer was appropriately blunt: “So much so that I don’t want to talk about it at all.”

Given that Pinback’s music has been consistent – some might say predictable – over the years, I’m more interested in the alleged codes, keys and ciphers present in the album artwork and the two 7inch singles released, and mentioned above, so far and how these relate to the music, and the album title of Information Retrieved. I ask Rob if there are secrets to be uncovered: “Oh, totally” he confirms. “There are all sorts of hidden things in there – hidden video games, all sorts of stuff.” Given the band are named after a character from John Carpenter’s sci-fi film Dark Star and the video for recent single ‘Sherman’ is based around astronauts and inspired by another sci-fi film, is there a sci-fi (or scientific) element to these secrets and the themes of the album as a whole? “Oh there always has been – the name of the band is after a character in a sci-fi film…it’s just always been there with Pinback.”

And when it comes to the secrets behind the album, Crowe insists that won’t be revealed just yet: “Yeah, I’m still keeping that all under wraps. There’s a whole story behind it, and I’m just figuring out a cool way of bringing that all out… it gives the regular dude something to talk about!” Is this something Crowe enjoys in the music he listens to? Searching for the meaning rather than being presented with something that’s emotionally open and telegraphed? “Well, yeah,” he responds. “The thing about something like a Fugazi record is that it’s obviously emotionally ripped right open,” he begins, “but I defy you to tell me what most of the songs are about – without doing some form of research.”

Reviews for Information Retrieved have suggested that the problem with Pinback is that they’re not challenging enough, aggressive enough, and that they’ve barely changed in over a decade, leading to their music being a bit, well, dull. I’d counter that by suggesting there’s a consistency and style with Pinback that makes them instantly recognisable, and a band that evokes warm feelings of nostalgia. Rob explains that he doesn’t think the band has ever been particularly influenced by trends or whatever the latest passing fad is: “There’s no point… I don’t want to do anything that can be dated,” he says. “We sound like what we sound like, and we don’t wanna sound like something we don’t sound like. I mean, nobody likes those Ramones records that don’t sound like the first five Ramones records, and nobody likes the Black Sabbath records that don’t sound like the first five Black Sabbath records – why purposely put out this first shitty record?”

There’s no doubt Crowe is rightly proud of Pinback’s back catalogue, and he sees no reason to change. Nor should he – a Pinback record without metronomic consistency just wouldn’t be a Pinback record. He goes on to say that there are no records that particularly influence the recording of an album: “We try to keep it its own animal…we just feed on what we do.” So there’s nothing that gets through? “Well, I’m influenced by many types of music, but I don’t try to use it all in this thing. That’s probably why we have so many different outlets … none of that stuff will interfere with what we do or confuse it too much.”

As a way of wrapping up a year-end interview, I ask Rob about the records he’s enjoyed in 2012, and it turns out it was a heavy year for him: “The Rites of Spring reissue was really great, the new Neurosis record is the best in quite a while, the new Pig Destroyer is good, Melvins’ Freak Puke was pretty good… but there haven’t been a whole lot of new, exciting things this year.” As for 2013, Crowe simply doesn’t have the time for dispensing tips: “I have so much stuff that I’m doing that I don’t know about anything else that’s coming out! I’ve got about five records that are almost 80-90% done – I’m playing catch-up with all my other stuff after putting out this Pinback record.”

So there we have it. Pinback: consistent, not influenced by what’s current, content to exist in their own timeline, their own reality. And, frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Information Retrieved is available now through Temporary Residence.

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