The Big Pink find solid footholds on the rocky road to notoriety:: The Big Pink ::
By Timothy Dwenger
Let’s get this out of the way up front — though their name is a direct reference to one of the most legendary albums of the ’60s, The Big Pink does not sound anything like The Band. In fact, their drony wall of sound is laced with poppy melodies and arena-ready hooks that have landed them their own headlining tours on both sides of the Atlantic and opening spots for prog-rockers Muse, and indie idols TV on The Radio.
The Marquee caught up with Robbie Furze, singer and guitarist of The Big Pink, as he enjoyed a lazy St. Patrick’s Day in Minneapolis after driving halfway across the country from Portland, Oregon. Though he said that he wasn’t sure about co-founder Milo Cordell, Furze was pretty sure that there were no big St. Patty’s Day parties on his schedule for the evening. “It’s always one big party; if there is any way to get out of a party, I’ll get out of it. I’m not sure if I’ll be getting wasted today, we have a show tomorrow and I need some down time,” Furze said.
Despite this, it sounds like The Big Pink have their share of fun on the road. On their journey from Portland to Minneapolis, they stopped in cities like Bismark, North Dakota and Butte, Montana, where they found a great local bar. “Some guy wanted to give me his dog! This dog could drink Guinness and high-five the bartender. Coolest dog I’ve ever met,” Furze laughed. “The guy who owned the bar also had a vintage guitar shop, so we played all his old guitars.”
It’s nights like these that make the rigors of touring worth it. The days upon days in vans, hotels and green rooms can take their toll, so it is important to be able to grab hold of the bright points along the way. For this tour, Furze and his bandmates realized that they could control one very important aspect of their day-to-day life: the opening band. “We were looking for a band that we really liked,” Furze said about their touring partners A Place to Bury Strangers. “Their music fits with ours. It’s heavy and they’ve got a light show. It just feels right. They’re such a great band and such nice people as well.”
The bands also have another thing in common. “We’re both into sonic assault,” Furze said. The ear-splitting volume that comes off the stage and often sends even the most seasoned concert goer scurrying for earplugs, is part of the fuel that powers The Big Pink’s ferocious sound. “I don’t wear earplugs; I don’t like it, they just don’t work for me,” he said. “I tried and it’s hard. I even tried the ones that are personally made but it didn’t work. I can’t even use in-ears, I’ve tried that too. I need to hear it as loud as it can possibly be through the PA.” He went on to admit that his approach to playing live resulted in some hearing loss in one ear and, by some accounts, he now has the hearing of a 57-year-old man though he is only in his 20s.
Furze believes that it is a small price to pay for a shot at a career that is looking so promising right now. Since passing several major milestones early last year, The Big Pink have proved to critics and audiences around the world that they aren’t just a flash in the pan. In February the band was signed by legendary British label 4 AD Records, the home to bands like The Cocteau Twins, The Pixies, Stereolab, and Thievery Corporation. Then, later the same month, they followed in the footsteps of Glasvegas and were awarded the NME Philip Hall Radar Award for Best New Artist.
This coming fall, The Big Pink is slated to revisit their opening duties for Muse on one of the largest stages in the world, Wembley Stadium in London. While Furze believes their first tour with Muse was an incredible opportunity and did net them some fans, he also said it was a bit of a challenge playing for such hardcore fans. “A lot of the fans are so dedicated to Muse and we definitely felt some resistance when we walked on. For us to sell our stuff to them was a little tricky but I think on the whole we changed peoples’ opinions as we went on through the set.”
While it remains to be seen how the crowd will react when The Big Pink take the stage in London this September, Furze and his bandmates have an extensive tour of the U.S. ahead of them that includes a high profile slot at the Coachella Festival in California this month. Though they are still a fledgling band, struggling to find solid footing, everything is pointing in the right direction.
:: The Big Pink ::
:: Bluebird Theater :: April 11 ::
Recommended if you Like:
• The Jesus and Mary Chain