|Photography by Eleonora Collini|
London, December 2012
Eleonora Collini: It’s been five years since Autumn of the Seraphs and it seems that your new album Information Retrieved had a very long, unusual gestation. You first released two 7 inches on Record Store Day and Black Friday last year, then recently you got Rolling Stone and Pitchfork to stream two new other songs, and then finally the album was released in October. What were the reasons of such a long gestation?
Rob Crow: Well we’ve been busy with a lot of other things. In the meantime I put out two solo records, worked on other side projects, Zach was busy with the Three Mile Pilot reunion and had his first child, I also had two more kids, we lost one of our friends that was in the band, we lost the record label we were on so we had to find a new one…and you know, all that stuff takes time
Eleonora: But I read somewhere you actually started working on the new album in 2009?
Rob: yeah pretty much after the last record, on and off, very sporadically because we also toured a lot
Eleonora: Can we talk about the artwork which is a real puzzle. It was all Daniel Danger idea or did you contribute as well?
Rob: it was actually all my ideas and Daniel facilitated them perfectly. Everything on the artwork means something
Eleonora: Yeah and I tried to solve part of it as I was very intrigued and I just want to know if I’m in the right direction. First of all there are some co-ordinates in both the Part A and B 7 inches that point to the Black Sea and Ust-Nera, right?
Eleonora: Then the evidence sheet in the Part A 7 inch is about the BASIC programming language which was invented in 1964, the same year that’s on the sheet, right?
Rob: Yes there is also a hidden video game in there too. Both 7 inches have hidden video games.
Eleonora: And finally Part B. I know you also asked on your Facebook if someone had managed to decipher it …. I’m trying to make sense of the third hidden track. It sounds like a sped-up cassette program ….
Rob: Yes and the password to load the song is the name of the song .
Eleonora: Are you talking about (the second track) “CLOAD Q” now? If I’m not mistaken CLOAD was also a magazine on cassette which began publishing in 1978, the same year mentioned in the liner notes..
Rob: oh really? Haha, I see you’ve done your research!
Eleonora: I really like the “Sherman” video. Did you produce and edit it as well? What is it about?
Rob: Yeah I co-wrote it as well as other stuff. First of all there is this 60’s Russian movie called “Planeta Bur” which is a cool cold-war sci-fi film. And since there were no copyrights in the States, a few years later someone just took the film, dubbed over all the voices and added some American characters and called it “Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet”. Then a few years later Robert Corman hired Peter Bogdanovic to redo that stuff adding ten-twenty minutes of Venusian chicks throwing rocks at a bird’s statue. So I took all of these three versions and I edited them for the live visuals of the song to tell a story between all the characters that meet each other and have a sort of communication. Then I wrote the video as a remake of that film that doesn’t exist.
Eleonora: What’s the audio sample in “Drawsting”?
Rob: I think it’s called “Our Mr Sun”. It’s a teaching movie about the Sun. I used it in a way that the meaning was a bit depressing. It’s all legal. And free, haha
Eleonora: How does your writing process work? Is it always a collective effort?
Rob: We both write the music, I usually write the lyrics
Eleonora: Do you sometimes write the lyrics before the music?
Rob: Rarely. Maybe sometimes I just visualise some ideas for songs. For instance I’d had the concept of the song “Walters” for years before we actually wrote it
Eleonora: Where do you usually find your inspiration?
Rob: Usually I write stories about people that are uncomfortable with their own skin but somehow do something incredibly creative and then they don’t know how to deal with it
Eleonora: Do you think there is a San Diego music scene you feel that you belong to?
Rob: Yeah sure, at the moment there is not much going on though. And I’m a bit further away from there than I wanted to be as I bought a house and to be able to afford it I had to buy a place 40 minutes away. It’s like a 40 dollars cab ride to get anywhere fun, but I still try to frequent those clubs as much as possible, as one of my favourite things to do is to see bands playing and things like that. When Zach and I first started playing together San Diego was the most fertile music place I’d ever heard of except maybe places like early ‘80s DC hardcore. It was post being able to afford to be in a band and everybody explored, everybody had resigned to the fact that if they wanted to make music they had to do it for fun and make it as crazy as possible. There were so many interesting bands that had started up like Three Mile Pilot, Crash Worship, Pitchfork, Fishwife and my band Heavy Vegetable. All great bands that didn’t sound like each other at all. Then Nirvana happened… and then some bands kinda started hanging out with each other, that’s how Zach and I started playing together as our bands were hanging out together as we were the good folks
Eleonora: You guys have known each other for ages. Do you still hang out when not working together?
Rob: Not as much anymore as we’re constantly seeing each other for work and I don’t live by him anymore. He’s also not that kind of person that goes out to shows or parties or things like that, though of course he’s always invited.
Eleonora: Are you still vegan?
Rob: No, I wish I was. I’m pescatarian. Being vegan is awesome, but it’s just so hard to do when you tour and you have three kids.
Eleonora: What would you consider the biggest Pinback’s achievement?
Rob: I don’t know, I don’t think we’ve got it yet. Every day being able to playing a show is always a big achievement for me; it’s kind heavy.
Eleonora: What’s the part of your job that you enjoy the most: writing, recording or performing live?
Rob: I honestly don’t know. I’m thankful for all these things. I just like them all and I don’t want to give any of them up. I wouldn’t be able to tell which one is the best, they are all so different but they’re actually all part of the same thing.
Eleonora: Do you ever write a song thinking about performing it live already?
Rob: Oh yeah, totally.
Eleonora: Is there any place where you haven’t played yet and would love to?
Rob: Yes. For instance we haven’t been to Spain yet for some reasons, which would seem so obvious to be as it’s just right there. We’ve been to Russia, Italy and all Europe and U.K. and the States of course. I’d like to go to India; we haven’t been to Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.
Eleonora: I don’t think bands play in India that often…
Rob: I don’t know, but that would be just my excuse to be able to go. I would go everywhere. I would like to go to Africa, Singapore and China. There is nowhere I wouldn’t like to go.