Last year, Pinback returned after five years of recording silence with the new album: Information Retrieved. Even bigger for this writer is the San Diego-based band’s return to South Florida for a rare live appearance coming up this Wednesday at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. The show marks only the group’s second appearance this far south since 2004, in support of the duo’s third album, Summer in Abaddon. Back then, the band travelled as far south as Miami to a space called I/O (now Vagabond), skipping this area during support of its 2007 album Autumn of the Seraphs.
Pinback formed on a lark in 1998 when multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rob Crow and bassist/vocalist Armistead Burwell Smith IV’s found themselves with some downtime from other projects. The resulting catchy, crisp pop rock soon outshone any of their earlier bands in terms of interest and record sales. I spoke with Crow last month for a pair of stories in the “Broward-Palm Beach New Times.”
To read the print story, jump through the logo below:
To read a nice, long rambling tangent we took on science fiction movies and Star Wars in particular, jump through the logo below for this left-field story in the paper’s music blog, “The County Grind”:
As fun as it was to recall our mutual memories of watching the first Star Wars movies in the theater, I found it rather difficult to get Crow going about his music. Here is a back and forth that captures our repartee, where he recalls memories of the band’s first South Florida show, what to expect of the band live and his musical relationship with a man he calls Zack for short, and considers his opposite.
Hans Morgenstern: What do you remember about the Miami visit, the last time you were here, like 5 years now? This is your first return here since then, but in Fort Lauderdale.
Rob Crow: Yeah. We went swimming at dusk. I didn’t know why nobody else was in the water. It’s because it’s crawling with sharks.
That or everyone’s getting ready to hit the clubs. No partying for you guys?
Not for us. We’re the nice-guy band.
I was impressed with how well you captured these songs that are rather intricate and polished in a live setting.
I remember that room. If you could hear anything, that’d be amazing.
I’ve seen many bands there, and it’s always too loud, but I could actually hear the different parts.
(laughs) What a bonus when you can hear the parts!
How do you pull it off live now as a three-piece?
They’ve been our best shows, as a three-piece, as everyone has wholly agreed.
Nope. They will still be there. They just won’t be seen. They’ll just be heard.
So they will be pre-recorded. I was sorry to hear about Terrin Durfey’s passing. How long was he a touring member of the band?
I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it in those terms. The timeline gets confusing for me, and depressing, to be honest, so I don’t dwell on it.
I cannot help but notice a sort of poetic tribute of you all touring as a three-piece, without a keyboardist. Is that a sort of tribute to Terrin or out of respect?
In some ways, like there’s some things we don’t do anymore because he did on the desks, and nobody could ever do that. But we had other people doing his parts as well for years, when he couldn’t do it anymore (coughs) and they were nice, great people and everything, but everything just works better for us as a three-piece.
There’s this clean sound you guys have that seems to harken back to the first polished rock records that really started coming out in the mid-’70s and up, like the Police.
I like the Police. I mean, when we were making our first album, it was one of the few bands that both of us liked, that we listened to while we were dicking around or whatever. He and I have very different views on almost anything, so when we agree on something it’s nice.
Like what views are different?
I don’t know. They’re all different.
How about musically?
He doesn’t own any records. He owns maybe five records, and I own, and I’m an archivist. (laughs)
There’s never any indulgence in feedback in your music, like dominating a whole song.
Zack’s always trying to do that on his bass. It doesn’t work for me.
So you stop him when he pulls that?
We both stop each other from doing stuff. Yeah, I’ve learned that it would be bad to do on guitar, and I just kinda get nauseous when it happens on the bass that much (laughs). That doesn’t mean we won’t do something that does that sometimes. That’d be great to figure out how to make it work.
Where was the new album recorded?
We had a studio that we were both working at [S.D.R.L. Studios, San Diego, California]. But he doesn’t work there anymore, and we both have home studios.
Do you record to tape at all?
No, we used to try to do that, but it was such a nightmare. We just gave up. We had a 16-track, big old giant thing and all this stuff, and were like, ugh, it doesn’t sound better. And we literally cannot afford to keep it in shape.
Ever think of going into a studio?
There’s no way that the two of us could go to a studio where you pay by the hour [He pauses to think about it, and his voice even sounds exhausted as he continues] because it’s just a nightmare. Everything we do is at a snail’s pace… Everything.
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Here are Pinback’s current tour dates (including an appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon:
March 12 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
March 13 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ The Culture Room
March 14 – Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live
March 15 – West Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern
March 16 – Richmond, VA @ The Canal Club
March 17 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
March 19 – Late Night With Jimmy Fallon @ Rockefeller Plaza, NY (check local listings to watch the performance)
March 21 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
March 22 – Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
March 23 – Little Rock, AR @ Revolution Music Room
Finally, just for fun, here is all the room I had for the band’s first South Florida appearance in Miami, almost 10 years ago, which ran in print before web mattered as much as it does now. Again, jump through the image: