Pinkish Black Interview

The self-titled debut album from Texas's Pinkish Black is now available for pre-order from Handmade Birds. I've been jamming this record a lot, and it's really a stupendous release, especially for a debut album. The term "death-rock," which has honestly never made a whole lot of sense to me personally, is the genre that gets attributed to these guys the most, so if genre tags mean anything to you, there ya go. If  not, maybe hearing a sample could get you going. Check out the album opener, "Bodies in Tow" over at Pitchfork. This is one of the more unique and interesting records to come out this year, so you should definitely read this interview, and then head over to Handmade Birds to buy the album.

I went into this not knowing a damn thing about this band, and while I can't say I know an awful lot now (I blame myself for being a terrible interviewer), it is interesting to hear the record and then read a a bit about the band's past.

Thanks to R. Loren from Handmade Birds, Kim Kelly, and to Jon and Daron from Pinkish Black for taking some time.

First off, let me thank you for taking some time to do this. Both I and the readers of Hammer Smashed Sound will appreciate the opportunity to get to know you guys a little bit. I know nothing about you at all, and since Pinkish Black is a relatively new band, can you introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about your history and how Pinkish Black came to exist?

We have been around each other since the 80's, but we didn't actually meet until around 98. Our old bands, Yeti and Pointy Shoe Factory used to play shows together all the time. Pointy Shoe broke up around 2003 and Yeti broke up a year or so after. When I heard Yeti was breaking up I asked Jon if he'd like to play together. We added Tommy Atkins and formed The Great Tyrant, which lasted for around 5 years and produced a 7", an vinyl LP and an EP yet to be released. The day that band ended, we formed Pinkish Black.

Your debut album, which is self-titled, is on Handmade Birds, which is also a relatively new (although seemingly well-established) label. How did you guys hook up with Handmade Birds?

R. Loren of Handmade Birds had heard of Pointy Shoe from our friends in The Autumns we had met during our 8 months in Los Angeles. He had contacted me about PSF, to which I didn't respond. A few weeks later he contacted me again telling me our friend and Discipline DJ Andrew Hass had told him about Pinkish Black and he had made the realization that the two bands were connected and he'd like to talk about doing an album. Thanks, Matt and Andrew!

The album has a decidedly dark and gloomy atmosphere, yet the melodies are often catchy as hell, which prevents this album from becoming hopelessly bleak. Was there a general atmosphere you guys were trying to achieve with this record, and if so, do you think you got there?

Yes. It's all on purpose.

The record is pretty refined (in a good way), but has a sound that seems like it would translate well to live shows. Do you feel more comfortable as a live band or in the studio? Is there a tremendous difference between what you do in the studio and what you do on stage?

In this format, live and studio are both very comfortable. We have recorded 4 times with Matt Barnhart at Echo Lab in Argyle, TX, and have gotten better results every time. We have both been recording at this studio since its inception. As we've gotten better, Matt gets better as does the studio.

I personally don’t generally like to label things with genres, but it often helps my readers to make sense of things in their heads, especially before they’ve heard the band. Pinkish Black seems to draw the death rock tag more often than not. Is that something you’re comfortable with? Is that an accurate way to describe how you guys go about creating and playing music?

You can't pick and choose what people hear in a recording. To try and force an idea by declaring it as certain genre would limit its appeal, in my opinion. We would like people to call it whatever they want.

The death rock genre has been on the rise of late, with bands like Alaric and Atriarch, for example, recording and releasing really excellent albums. But your style seems a lot more psychedelic than most of the other bands I’ve heard. Has classic psychedelia played an important role in the evolution of your music?

Psychedelics and psychedelic music have been and will be a constant influence. Arthur Brown has been a long time vocal influence and Can is, for me, where a lot of the bass line vamps come from. But really it's as much influenced by Can or Brainticket as it is by Prince, Steely Dan, Christian Death or Joy Division.

What sorts of things influence Pinkish Black’s music? I don’t mean just musical influences - music, literature, film, spirituality, real-life experiences, imaginary friends, etc.? Musically speaking, what are the iconic albums that have had a profound influence on what you do?

To complete this list would be ridiculous. A few major influences:
Emil Cioran, Miles Davis, Austin Osman Spare, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, William Burroughs, Francis Bacon, Begotten, Baudelaire, Magma, Tobe Hooper, Fort Worth
I would say, for this band, influential albums or bands would be:
Üdü Wüdü by Magma, Suicide by Suicide, Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel by Scott Walker, Some People Deserve To Suffer by Stick Men With Rayguns, Purple Rain by Prince, Les Morts Vont Vite by Shub-Niggurath, Fair Warning by Van Halen, I Who Have Nothing by Tom Jones, Freedom Bondage by Zeni Geva, Replicas by Gary Numan, Winter by Amebix, this could go on and on....

The album has been released only on vinyl. Was that your intention or the idea of the label? Do you have a preference for one format over others?
Vinyl is the best. No one cares about cds and you can't hold an MP3 and look at it like a piece of art. We will release it digitally for download shortly after the vinyl goes on sale.

What does the future hold for Pinkish Black, after the debut album is released? Will there be a tour? More recording in the future, perhaps?

We would love nothing more than to tour. We are planning to record the 2nd album in the winter.

Lastly, thank again for giving us this opportunity. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Texas is still the reason.....


Soggy Bob said...

I ordered the record. Really looking forward to spinning it. Nice interview

R LOREN said...

i enjoyed reading their list of influential records. im a big list person, and love to go on amazon binges after reading interviews like this. kudos.