The Big Pink, Interview

06 May 2009

The Big Pink - Interview

The Big Pink - Interview

Concluding our interviews from this year's Camden Crawl we thought we'd bring you one of the highlights of the whole weekend's performances.

Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell are The Big Pink, and their fusion of noise, dub and ethereal soundscapes wooed festivalgoers in the Electric Ballroom on the Friday and Dingwalls the night after. Despite there being much talk about their music-biz connections (Furze used to play with Alec Empire and is allegedly "close friends" with Lily Allen, Cordell meanwhile runs Merok Records which put out early releases from the likes of Klaxons and Crystal Castles), Contact Music preferred to chat strictly about the music. Just don't mention the term "shoegaze"..

How were the shows for you this weekend as Contact Music were literally blown away, particularly by the Dingwalls one.
Robbie Furze: Ah, thanks man! We were a bit worried about this weekend because this is literally the end of our tour and we looked at each other mid-show, sort of like saying "Are we pulling this off?" because we were literally exhausted.

The sound was quite phenomenal, almost deafening at times.
Robbie Furze:
Our sound guy is called Evil Eddie. He used to do the sound for Primal Scream on the 'Xtrmnatr' tour so he's a dab hand when it comes to creating these massive walls of sound.
Milo Cordell: What's quite funny is that Wire played straight after us at the Electric Ballroom last night, and the last time they played there - 27 years ago I think? - Evil Eddie actually did their sound!

Musically, there are many elements to draw upon within The Big Pink's sound. Whereabouts would you say you are and where do you see it developing in the future?
Milo Cordell: In the future it would be really hard to say.
Robbie Furze: The thing that is good about The Big Pink when me and Milo work together is that we pretty much do whatever we want. We tend to go into one thing at one time, so there may be a little hip-hop week where we end up writing a hip-hop tune, or it might not end up strictly like that but the basis of the song would certainly originate from those kind of hip-hop associated beats. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that when we start writing a song, even we have no idea where it may end up so as for future directions, who knows?
Milo Cordell: I think we'll just keep on writing in the same way as we have done so far.

What other artists would you compare The Big Pink to, both past and present?
Robbie Furze: Modern bands I don't know.older bands I'd like to place us somewhere between the Smashing Pumpkins and Ministry or Throbbing Gristle.
Milo Cordell: I'd say the Stone Roses too. There's a very English element to our sound.

I think there are also similarities with a lot of the early shoegaze bands from the late eighties and early nineties.
Milo Cordell: What part of our music constitutes shoegaze?

The dense, guitar-led wall of sound, for sure.
Milo Cordell: I'd agree with the wall of sound bit, but to us, a lot of the English shoegaze bands were quite whimsy and soft, whereas I'd consider our sound to be quite ballsy. I mean, I do like Slowdive, and My Bloody Valentine obviously, but I think we're more comparable to people like Smashing Pumpkins and Dinosaur Jr, bands who maybe embraced shoegaze for a short period of time but eventually went on to do their own thing rather than follow a set pattern. I think there was an element of that genre that, whilst being fairly loud, also sounded quite washed-out as well. We're not washed-out, we're very punchy.

Even between the demos on your MySpace page to the first single 'Too Young To Love' and forthcoming record 'Velvet', there's a marked difference.
Robbie Furze: Yeah, I think we are perfectionists in our own kind of way. We tend to refine stuff before we feel its ready to be released, that's for sure. We like the music to be fairly aggressive, the drums particularly, but at the same time we want people to recognise the songs as individual pieces rather than any defined sound of The Big Pink. It sounds fairly complicated but we actually work really quickly in our studio, so its more a case of adding different dimensions rather than taking anything away from the structure of the song.
Milo Cordell: I think the ultimate aim is to try and make our recordings more like our live shows, certainly in a heavier sense at least.

It must be difficult to find a common ground between something that was conceived in a studio but then developed in other ways whilst playing live?
Robbie Furze: Yeah, its kind of weird to be honest, because the songs were written in the studio, and in that context its just me and Milo, even down to the initial demo recordings, but then live we've got four other people joining us onstage so their input can change the whole dimension of the original composition and recording of any one of our songs.
Milo Cordell: In a way I'd say The Big Pink are almost like two entities; there's the studio version which is just me and Robbie and then there's the bigger collective when we're out on the road.
Robbie Furze:
I can actually see us collaborating on a separate studio project as well as The Big Pink that will go off in slightly different tangents.

You've got quite a busy schedule of festivals this summer. Are there any that you're particularly looking forward to?
Robbie Furze: Glastonbury for sure. Reading and Leeds too.
Milo Cordell: I don't know if we're doing Reading and Leeds actually.its not been confirmed yet.I hope we are though. Summer Sonic in Japan should be amazing as well.
Robbie Furze: Let's just say we are playing Reading and Leeds.then they'll have to add us onto the bill!
Milo Cordell: Just the whole aspect of visiting so many different countries this summer is something I'm looking forward to. We're scheduled to play many different ones in Europe, places like Croatia where I've never been to.
Robbie Furze: We'll play anywhere really!
Milo Cordell: If you book us we will come!

Finally, if you could draw up a wishlist of people you'd like like to work with, both in a musically collaborative and production sense, who would you choose?
Milo Cordell: I'd have to say Phil Spector.
Robbie Furze: I think I'd go for Blixa Bargeld.
Milo Cordell: Timbaland maybe.?
Robbie Furze: I'd like to think that's where we're at.somewhere between Einsturzende Neubaten and Timbaland!

The single 'Velvet' is out now on 4AD Records.

Dom Gourlay

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