Interview: The Big Pink's Robbie Furze Would Really Prefer It If You Didn't Call His Band's Music "Shoegaze"

Interview: The Big Pink's Robbie Furze Would Really Prefer It If You Didn't Call His Band's Music "Shoegaze"
Tim Saccenti

With an infectious single "Dominos" currently providing the soundtrack to many retail and boozing experiences across the city, British foursome the Big Pink just strolled into town for two headlining nights, a first for the two-year-old London-based band. Their debut album A Brief History of Love, released this past September, blends dirgy, layered, atmospherics and heavy rhythms. And unlike most bands that get lumped into that shoegazer niche, these dudes are more than just an effects pedal gone too far that follows bands of that ilk.

Earlier this week, we spoke with the Big Pink's guitarist/vocalist Robbie Furze over the phone from their tour bus in Boston.

I'm wondering about your band name. What's your relationship with the Band's album Music from Big Pink?

Well, I love the Band. They're very important to me. My parents grew up listening to that kind of music-it was always around the house. I was actually named after Robbie Robertson. And I think the Band is relevant to the Big Pink, because I think that we have the ethos of the Band. They were the real deal and on the road for fifteen years; they lived together, they partied together, and they could almost die together. That kind of ethos is very important to the Big Pink. We're not a project.The other guys in the band-they're our friends. We've known each other before the Big Pink were around. I think it's very important. We're like a gang and do things together.

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You guys obviously don't sound like the Band. When you first got together, was there a direction for how you wanted to sound?

No, we didn't know what we were thinking about. Milo called me up and said, "Let's make some noise." We didn't have high expectations about what the band was going to be. It just came very naturally. Some of the songs just came out and it was a very organic process, really. We didn't have any idea. People think it's supposed to be a concept record because it's called A Brief History of Love, but that was an afterthought. It all sort of tied together after the record.

A few bands out of the U.K. recently-Glasvegas, the Horrors and you-all have drawn on this shoegazey, atmospheric sound. I was wondering if you think it was a reaction to what we saw a few years ago, with bands like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys.

I don't really know. I don't think we sound much like those bands. Those bands have more of an element of guitar than we did. I think just the fact that we're lumped in that niche is kind of unfair, because I think we have a small element of that. Like a My Bloody Valentine kind of music. But I think we're a lot more than that. Most of our songs have an almost hip-hop beats or industrial. I like those bands but I just don't think we have much relevance. It's just a very small part of what we do. Me and Milo grew up listening to American bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth and that's where I think my influences are, with the guitar. Far more than any of the shoegaze. I personally don't see it, in my opinion.

Have you all been lumped like that in England over the last couple months?

Well, everyone tries to bracket everything. We know what our sound is and I can't define who we are at the moment and I don't know if I'll ever be able to define our sound. I think we are trying to chisel out our own sound but we don't know what it is at the moment. I don't know why people find comfort in putting things in a box with a sticker on it saying what it is. I don't know why that is so important for everyone.

On the single "Dominos," is the lyric "These girls fall like dominos" based on factual experience?

[laughs]. I think sometimes people think that's a misogynistic song but if you listen to the lyrics, it's sort of a sad comment on how pathetic men are to a certain point. A very non-committal, weak approach to the opposite sex. It's also a celebration of women, in a way. Like our answer to "It's Raining Men." That kind of thing.

With that in mind, as this is your first headlining U.S. tour-have you spotted any differences between American and British women?

[laughs] Not really. Everyone is more friendly on a whole.

You did the production on A Brief History of Love at Electric Ladyland here in New York. What were you doing when you weren't working on it?

Partying, really. They was long days, and we definitely put a lot of partying in.

When not partying, The Big Pink play the Bowery Ballroom tonight and the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday, December 4.


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