It was the spring of 2000 and I was sitting on my porch, not worrying about terrorism. No sir, the only thing that I had to worry about was which one of my fellow crumb bum roommates was walking down to the Plaid Pantry to get more Pabst. My roomie not only brought back the champagne of Portland, golden delicious Pabst, but also stopped by Viva La Revolution (the coolest record store in Portland) and picked up a seven-inch from a band called Pinback. We popped it on the ol’ turntable and out came the coolest, catchiest song ever written by bipedal man. I played the seven-inch for every one that walked through our door or even walked by the house. I just couldn’t get enough of that rock and roll baby. After wearing the record out in a week, I had to get more. I was like a freakin’ junkie, but the sweet, sweet drug I needed didn’t come in a needle. No, it was Pinback.
Let me tell you what I know about the band. San Diego’s Pinback formed as a part-time recording project by Armistead Burwell Smith IV (“Zach”) and Robert Rulon Crow Junior in January of 1998. Zach’s previous band, 3 Mile Pilot, had just fallen into hiatus. The duo then wisely added the metronome drumming of Tom Zinser (also of 3 Mile Pilot). The band started recording their first album. Recording at home, on Zack’s computer, the album was entirely produced on their terms. Engineering, mixing and mastering the recording in a cement-walled San Diego bedroom, the band created magic.
Tim/Kerr Records of Portland is famed for finding the likes of early ’90s glam band the Dandy Warhols and Portland’s most infamous sell-outs Everclear. Tim/Kerr Records recognized the musical magic of Pinback and signed the band for worldwide distribution rights. Tim/Kerr Records, being a powerhouse in the early ’90s, once had the know-how to push Pinback into greatness, but by the late ’90s T/K was wrapped up in financial and drug problems. Unfortunately, their recording agreement with T/K immediately became very problematic. The album sat virtually untouched for six months while a legal battle took place between Pinback and T/K. Finally, under great legal pressure, Pinback was released from their contract. Pinback was then signed by a former Portland label, since moved to NYC, Ace Fu Records. Ace Fu brandishes the likes of Tight Bros. From Way Back When and The Fucking Champs so you know they’re cool.
The two years following the release of Pinback’s self-titled debut proved to be very productive for the band. The band’s popularity skyrocketed as the band embarked on two West Coast tours and two European tours. In February of 2001 National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” ran a glowing four-minute audio review of the CD. The bands attention was well deserved but played like a double edge sword for Rob Crow. It is rumored that Rob suffers from agoraphobia, making touring and mass attention difficult. Despite the minor setback the band pushed on.
Late last summer Tree Recording Company from Chicago released Pinback’s opus, a four song EP entitled Some Voices.
The EP, the NPR review and Pinback’s famous live shows pushed the band to new heights. The bands EP charted at #42 on the CMJ Charts giving them massive college radio play and motivating them to push on.
Rob and Zech went back to the small bedroom studio in which they had recorded all their previous recordings. Why go into a big spendy studio when you can create perfection in your own home?
Recording, mixing and mastering, this last summer, Pinback finalized their long awaited second full-length record, Blue Screen Life. (I for one will be scratching my way to the front of the line to get this one.)
Slated for release this next Monday (Oct. 22) the album is Pinback’s greatest work to date. Blue Screen Life
has the same ear-pleasing vocal duets as before mixed with their well-crafted writing style. What I enjoy about Pinback is that each release has a different feel. The first album was simple, dreamy and mind-bogglingly catchy. The EP was more electronic, but not in a post Kid A
sort of way. The band’s blend of electronic/indie rock was very original and sweeping. The latest album (from what little I’ve heard of it — damn I can’t wait till next Monday) keeps the same quality, overall sound but mixes it with a cool Unwound, Police, ’80s feel.
So go grab us a half rack of the champagne of Portland and a copy of Blue Screen Life
and we will have a sleepover. Let’s say Monday and I’ll bring the Ouija board and handcuffs.