Feature ·

Rob Crow doesn't want to fit in

Pinback: Part One

[Part 1 of 2]

They have a promotional deal with Urban Outfitters, a featured spot on Napster at the height of the controversy, a story on NPR's "All Things Considered," but Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith IV (a.k.a. "Zach") -- the duo behind Pinback -- still mix their records on their own personal computers. But that enhances, not detracts from, the band's thick orchestration and layered rhythms. Summer In Abbaddon, the band's third full-length, released by Touch and Go in October 2004, may be heavier than the band's previous releases, but the trademark sounds are still evident. Smith and Crow play in a handful of bands between them, including Three Mile Pilot, but Pinback is their most complex.
Prefix's Steve Bittrand sat down with Rob Crow before a show at North Six in Brooklyn and discussed what it's like to be a Star Wars and Sebadoh super-fan, why it's good to say no sometimes and the best things in video games and comic books before reminiscing about the golden era of San Diego's music scene.


 

[more:]Prefix Magazine:
You must get asked this a lot, but I was wondering what you think about downloading music.

Pinback:
I love sharing files over the Internet! It's a good question. I think everyone should be asked that question. And if they have a problem with it, then you know not to buy their records. [Laughs.]

PM:
That's an interesting point.

Pinback:
Lars Ulrich, the guy who's made the biggest stink about it, wouldn't even have a career if it weren't for trading demos back in the day. People making cassette copies of the demos and sharing it with others -- that's how they got popular.

PM:
Do you go online and check out what the reviews say?

Pinback:
Every once in a while. I'll get bored at night and put my name in a search engine. It's funny.
I like bad reviews. I like bad reviews that are right. I don't like reviews that are just like "I didn't like it," or "This doesn't sound anything like Fatboy Slim." I like the ones that say this is bad for this reason and this reason and this reason. Then I go "Goddamn. That guy is exactly right. Thank you for writing that."

PM:
That's pretty similar to what RJD2 said in one of his interviews with Prefix.

Pinback:
That's funny: my online nickname is Rob5D4.

PM:
You guys are pretty reliant on technology. The first two full-lengths were mixed and mastered on a personal computer, right?

Pinback:
Yeah.

PM:
And the newest album?

Pinback:
We did all that on the computer, but then after sent it somewhere to get mastered, to try it out.

PM:
Do you think that's how you guys are always going to do it?

Pinback:
Probably. Oh, let me just check this (cell phone) to make sure it's not like someone saying, "Dude, I'm outside!" It's my friend reporting back on whether the Thai place has vegan options or not. It's too busy there. There not even going in.

PM:
How long have you been vegan?

Pinback:
About five or six years.

PM:
What made you decide to do that?

Pinback:
I tried to quit every bad thing I could. I quit drinking for four years. I quit smoking. I quit smoking and drinking coffee at the same time, and I really like how it affected what I was thinking. So then I tried thinking of more things to quit. So I quit drinking and I quit eating dairy. Now I drink again but I don't eat dairy or smoke. Every once in a while I'll drink a little coffee.

PM:
Why did you quit drinking?

Pinback:
I had a problem. I was really, really bad.

PM:
Did you just wake up one day or did it take something bad to happen for you to quit?

Pinback:
I just kind of had to do it. It wasn't like a traumatic experience that happened. It was just, "Now is the time." I lost a lot of weight. It was awesome.

PM:
I read somewhere that you guys are "self-described computer nerds."

Pinback:
I guess so. We are always playing on our computers.

PM:
Do you mean surfing the Internet, instant messaging, computer games?

Pinback:
All that. Well, not so much instant messaging as ICQ.

PM:
You're still using ICQ?

Pinback:
I like ICQ.

PM:
You play computer games too?

Pinback:
All the time. And also newsgroups, FTP groups.

PM:
Not video games though?

Pinback:
It depends on the game. I'd rather play computer games. If I had a choice between Star Wars Battlefront on X-Box or PC I would choose PC because the graphics are much better and I'd have a lot more people to play with. You don't have to dick around.

PM:
Are you a PS2 guy or X-Box or Gamecube?

Pinback:
Everything, because Zelda games are not going to come out on X-Box. But for multi-platform games, if it's not available on PC I'll get them on X-Box.

PM:
What about Halo 2 or Grand Theft Auto?

Pinback:
I'd rather play Grand Theft Auto on X-Box, but San Andreas isn't going to be out on X-Box for the longest time. So that means you're going to have to buy it twice. But the Nintendo DS. I'm really down.

PM:
The new Nintendo portable coming out?

Pinback:
Yeah. I can't wait.

PM:
What about the upcoming Playstation portable?

Pinback:
I'll get that one too. [Laughs.]

PM:
You're an addict.

Pinback:
I'm way more looking forward to the DS. Nintendo is just a better company all around.

PM:
I never got into the GameCube. Lack of sports games kills it for me.

Pinback:
I love the GameCube, man. I'm not so into sports games, but my wife loves them.

PM:
Do you play sports games against your wife?

Pinback:
I just let her down. She'll be like, "C'mon. I'm kicking your ass!" [Laughs.] She loves Madden and that kind of shit. She wakes me up on Sunday mornings because she's listening to her damn Chiefs games. She's way into the Chiefs.

PM:
Are you not a big football fan.

Pinback:
I don't even know how to play.

PM:
That's weird. How did you meet your wife?

Pinback:
At a Wesley Willis show on May 4.

PM:
How long have you been married?

Pinback:
Two years on May 4. As in, "may the fourth be with you." And our wedding invitations had little rebel alliance stamps on them. Oh, yeah. Big nerds!

PM:
Is your wife really into the Star Wars thing too?

Pinback:
She's into it, but nearly as much as me. She's definitely into it.

PM:
Do you ever go to the Star Wars conventions?

Pinback:
I'm always busy or can never afford the plane ticket. But I love comics. I'm a big comics nut.

PM:
I used to be really into comics, but I don't really follow them now.

Pinback:
It's such an amazing age of comics.

PM:
Right now?

Pinback:
Right now, I can at least name ten authors that are tearing shit up right now writing some of the coolest stuff I've ever read.

PM:
When I was into comics, I was really into Marvel. Never got into DC. But do you remember when they had Marvel, Image, Dark Horse and Valiant?

Pinback:
I don't know much about Valiant. I'm just really into authors. I'm a lot more into authors than I am into artists. Although there are some artists that I really dig, like Dave McKean. He does a lot of stuff with Neil Gaiman, although I'm not really into his stuff.

PM:
But he gets all that critical acclaim.

Pinback:
He's kind of goofy. Like boring gothy. I think he has the same faults that Tim Burton does. But I can name some good comic dudes: Micheal Bendis, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, There are so many more. That's just a handful of guys that are kicking ass right now.

PM:
Does Zack get into comics?

Pinback:
Not at all. Zack (a.k.a. Armisted Burnwell Smith IV, co-founder of Pinback)
doesn't read anything. Well, he reads magazines about Macintosh.

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