Read Part 2 of this interview
For most guys in their 20s, making it as a rock star is the ultimate dream, though only a very few get to live out such a fantasy. For Robbie Furze of the The Big Pink, the fantasy is rapidly becoming a reality, with the band’s debut album, A Brief History Of Love, lauded as one of the year’s best.
But if we’re being completely truthful, The Big Pink’s two founding members have actually been indulging in the lifestyle’s excesses for some time now.
Yes, there have been girls around every corner as well as drug-fueled parties, multiple festival appearances and free trips to Ibiza. It’s enough to make the most prudish man do something, well, improper.
But underneath the bullish, laddish masquerade that so epitomises the single Dominos lies the honesty, self-awareness and the subtle romanticism of tracks like Love In Vain and the earth-trembling single-of-the-decade contender, Velvet. Despite its fierce barrages of noise and its cold industrial beats, there’s a fast-beating heart. But first let’s talk about the interesting stuff.
Ahead of supporting the Pixies and Muse on tour, and their first headline shows, there were festivals, most recently Rob Da Bank’s gathering on the Isle Of Wight. How was Bestival?
“I loved Bestival,” says Robbie. “We’ve had a really good run. We were in Ibiza, then Barcelona, then we did Bestival. Those three shows were so much fun, we had such a great time.” Knowing the band’s reputation, it seems only right to ask about the presumably debauched goings on in Ibiza. “We played Ibiza Rocks and the stage is in the middle of a hotel courtyard, so everyone has terraces from their hotel rooms looking down at the stage with banners saying “choon” and “Big Pink”. It was cool, and, of course, we got completely out of it for the rest of the time. We also played (the club) Eden. One of my favourite DJs is DJ Casper; he was playing and we got to hang out with him and Digitalism. The music was fucking great.”
Proof, were it needed, that The Big Pink are getting pretty big, hanging out with their heroes. Furze laughs. “There’s big and there’s ‘big’. We’re not exactly hanging in any kind of celebrity hangouts. I did almost get to see Bon Jovi though. We did a live show for BBC 6music and Bon Jovi walked in just after we had left. It was so annoying. He’s definitely one of the people I’d run after and say ‘hi’ to.” Furze’s affable ‘I’ve got heroes, too’ character is already shining though.
So what does playing live feel like? “I guess,” he says, pondering for a moment, “I guess it’s like a centring feeling. It makes me very relaxed. I get myself in this head space before the show. It’s like this feeling of anticipation, not like a nervousness. And when I step on stage and start playing notes it just centres everything.” Again, it’s a mature answer from a member of a band associated, in the mind’s eye at least, with the party circuit.
But Furze is keen to distance the band and the band’s sound from those kind of easy associations. “Yeah, we get this a lot, like we’re part of a junkie scene, like we’re all on drugs. When we started out we wanted to be a more digital version of Velvet Underground. I mean we don’t sound like that at all anymore, but maybe some of that stuck. I think the Velvet Underground always had that heroin, blissed-out feel. But (A Brief History Of Love) is not a party album. It’s not a party sound, but there are upbeat songs.”
Furze agrees that the album is a dense mixture of music, both cerebral and physical, but is at pains to say that it isn’t too unpalatable. “I find it annoying when I talk to musicians and they’re like ‘Yeah, I write my best stuff when I’m depressed,’ and I’m like, ‘Fuck off! I don’t write anything down when I’m depressed!’ And what’s there to be depressed about? And that mentality, it’s like, just chill out! Have fun!”
With such a mood of optimism in the air, it seemed right to ask Furze how he was reacting to all the positive coverage. He does one of those slightly breathless, ‘pinch me’ laughs. “It’s amazing. It’s incredible. When we started we had such low expectations and we didn’t really know what we were doing. Milo (Cordell, co-member of The Big Pink) said in an another interview that when The Big Pink started it was this small flame, then people put paper on, then logs, and gasoline. And now it’s this raging fire.”
Read Part 2 of this interview