The Big Pink at Outland

The Big Pink at Outland

March 21, 2010 – If someone were to come up to you tomorrow and say,”Hey guys, The Big Pink is coming.” I would expect most people to tightly grasp their can of mace and cautiously ask what the hell they’re talking about. But if you’re one of those people who haven’t had their head buried in the sand for the past year then you’re well aware of the “electro rock” duo “The Big Pink” which formed in 2007 in London, England. The band gets their name from the debut album by The Band. Since releasing their first album “A Brief History of Love” back in September of 2009, The Big Pink have found themselves touring across the globe. The band currently consist of two members, Robertson “Robbie” Furze on lead vocals/guitar and Milo Cordell on keyboards/synths/vocals. Furze used to play guitar for electro punk singer Alec Empire and also ran the record label “Hate Channel” with Cordell. Cordell is the son of 1960s pop producer Denny Cordell and runs the Merok label, which has released acts like Klaxons, Titus Andronicus and Crystal Castles to name a few. After combining their talents to form The Big Pink in the middle of 2007, Furze and Cordell eventually released their first single “Too Young to Love” on 7″ vinyl in October of 2008 on the House Anxiety label. The London duo would soon after release two more singles, Velvet and Stop The World on there current label, 4AD. Backing them on their tour across the U.S. this time are Akiko Matsuura on drums/vocals and Leopold Ross on bass. Matsuura, also known as “exceedingly good Keex”, is a member of the bands Pre and Comanechi and also has a side project entitled Sperm Javelin. Ross was a founding member of eclectic rock band Nojahoda, who released one album with Sony back in 1999. Other bands of Ross include Error and Echo (Los Angeles).  The Big Pink is probably most well known for their fourth single “Dominos” off their debut album A Brief History of Love which was released in September of 2009 with 4AD. The band produced the album themselves at the infamous Electric Lady Studios in New York City. So there’s a pretty good history of most of the facts. Now onto some opinions.

Robertson "Robbie" Furze of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

Robertson "Robbie" Furze of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

This being an unscheduled stop on their tour, I was unsure of the chances of scoring an interview with band. Thanks to their U.S. touring contact Dan Mullaly, I was able to set up some time with the band before the show. Unfortunately, we were made to wait outside the Outland doors until the opening act, Besieus, was finished with their sound check. I understand though how only a select group of people feel special if there weren’t sets of ridiculous rules to help them feel that way. After some confusion on who’s on the list and who’s not, we entered the club to find sort of a Saturday Night Fever atmosphere. Recognizing other people from the media, I felt like if I didn’t get my interview soon that someone else would swoop in and suck the interview life out of the band before I would have a chance to. Just then my phone rang. It was Mullaly asking if I could meet him and the band in the private dressing room in the back of the club. Since this was a last minute interview with the band I didn’t bother talking to the security at the front of the dressing room and went straight to the back entrance and made my way in through the unlocked door. As I entered, the always beautiful Keex and Murray, the band’s sound technician, were chatting on one of the couches and treated me as though I was just another implemented part of the touring game. Warm smiles and friendly handshakes filled the backstage area. I was finally met by Mullaly and Furze and asked to come have a seat. Although everyone else was around fiddling about, my interview would take place with lead singer and founding member, Robbie Furze. Now this next part went a little long with me asking question after question so why don’t we see if we can’t sum it up a bit. According to Furze, their U.S. tour is going great. Everyone is tired but they know their isn’t anything else they could be doing with their time here on earth. Furze loves the beauty of the open rode but misses his dog. In fact, that dog would be one of the only reasons Furze would want to take any sort of break from touring. One of Furze’ favorite elements of touring is all the different food they get to experience along the way. Especially the sushi in Toronto. I went on to ask if there were any songs he could do without ever playing again. It was sort of a baited question as I thought he may choose there current single “Dominoes” and he did. He went on to explain that he had no intention of turning his back on it because it was one of those pivotal songs that helped get them were they are today. Never the less, we are all aware of the phrase, “too much of a good thing.” We quickly changed subjects and Furze expressed how he was excited about the rest of the U.S. tour and couldn’t wait until their final stop in California at the Coachella Festival in mid April. He was mostly excited about the 6pm main stage slot that they had secured for the festival. A few more questions taught me that the entire band was responsible for the set list each night of the tour and was based upon a mutual feeling that everyone would have the day of the show.  Although Furze was not looking forward to any sort of break from touring, he was excited to play the many different festivals they were scheduled to do this summer that were not a part of any touring schedule. As the opening band played on, I could tell it was time to give the band some “alone” time to prepare for the show. I shook hands with each member and asked if I could get a photo with the group for the article. They happily gathered around and I felt , if only for a moment, as if we were good friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. A few crazy poses were done before we finally settled on a pose for the picture. The flash illuminated and sealed in light what felt like one of the great moments in history.

Milo Cordell of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

Milo Cordell of The Big Pink on stage at Outland

The stage was set as the band strapped on their instruments and settled in for the show. I knew what was to be next because I had finagled a copy of the set list from Furze during the interview and is as follows; “Too Young to Love,” “At War with the Sun,” “Frisk,” “Velvet,” “Crystal Visions,”  “Count Backwards from Ten,” “New Song,” “Tonight,” “These Arms of Mine,”  and “Domino’s.”  The band likes to start the show with “Too Young to Love” and they did just that. As with most opening numbers in smaller venues, the sound was a little off but the band played on as though all was well. To be perfectly honest, which is what my readers expect from me, a lot of the songs sounded very similar. You couldn’t always tell if the live drummer, although very appealing, was even necessary do to the louder and more intricate electronic parts. The look was there though and everyone was feeling the energy. The over all vibe of the bands’ music gave me a feeling like they had created a “love siren.” A sort of warning to all listeners who dare to venture into the world of love. It was not until mid set that they played “Crystal Visions.” The song started in slow with a reverse lead solo by Furze. You could tell the song was building slowly but into what I were unsure. Just as I began to zone out on the one chord build up I felt this peculiar feeling. It was as if all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room suddenly. I looked up just in time to see the entire band strike at their instruments at the same time. With that one fluid motion the speakers in front of the stage erupted sound like a volcano that had been dormant for thousands of years. The audio waves themselves shook the very clothing on my body and made me feel as though my entire body was vibrating. This was so amazing because I was in the very back of the club and could only imagine what the people up front must be experiencing. I let the vibrations take me over like I was being launched into the stratosphere.  When I came back to reality, the song was over and the audience was applauding wildly. They never did top the experience I had during that song but the rest of the night was a great success. They played five more songs in all which included a brand new song and a cover of Ottis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine.” Furze had told me the title of the new song during the interview but expressed that he wasn’t sold on the name yet so we agreed to keep the name between us and just refer to it as the “New Song.”  I made my way towards the bar to freshen my drink near the end of the Ottis Redding cover. The song ended as I was making may way back towards the floor. Just then the familiar opening of “Domino’s” erupted into the audience. I watched as everyone excitedly got out of their seats and rushed to the stage area. It was kind of sad really that a lot of the people at the show seemed lifeless until the one song they actually knew was played. It felt like those people weren’t really giving the band a chance to show their art because they were to busy waiting for the band to do “Latka Mr. Kaufman.” Never the less, the band did not disappoint and provided the audience with a great rendition of “Domino’s”. The band then left the stage as an ambient outro filled the club. The droning mess of noise as the band made their way through the audience and towards the back stage was very poetic. You could tell at that very moment that The Big Pink would be living this life as long as the people would let them.

Touring information for The Big Pink can be found at http://www.myspace.com/musicfromthebigpink or http://www.musicfromthebigpink.com/. I’m sorry If you’re expecting an album release anytime soon because you’ll probably have to wait until late April or May of 2011. You can find copies of their 2009 release “A Brief History of Love” at http://www.amazon.com/ and other participating retailers. They are releasing a compilation album with other 4AD artists called “Fragments from Work in Progress”  that will be released on Record Store Day on Saturday, April 17 of this year. The EP is exactly what it says it is. It is a compilation of works in progress from 4AD artists’ next album. The Big Pink will be donating their track “With You” to the compilation and I’m sure its release is being anticipated across the globe. If you asked me, “Mondo, do you love this band?” My answer would be yes, but maybe I got a little star struck.  If you were to ask me if I was “In Love” with this band I would have to say that only time will tell.