Talking sound and sci-fi with Pinback frontman Rob Crow

Pinback’s Rob Crow, right, and Zach Smith.
Photo: Chris Woo
Chris Bitonti

How many musicians are you touring with right now? Three people: Zach [Smith] and I and the drummer, Chris Prescott. We’ve been doing it that way for a couple years, and everybody agrees that these are the best shows we’ve ever done.

How do you think slimming down to a power trio improved your sound? We still have a lot of extraneous sound, and we have visuals and things as well. I don’t know. It’s just more concentrated, easier to see what’s going on and the true dynamic of everything.

Five years passed between Pinback’s two latest albums, Autumn of the Seraphs [2007] and Information Retrieved [2012]. Why the long break? Zach put out a Three Mile Pilot record and a Systems Officer record, and I put out five records.

The Details

PINBACK with Judgement Day
January 16, 9 p.m., $18-$22.
Hard Rock Cafe (Strip), 733-7625.

You put out five records? Probably. There were, like, two solo albums, a Goblin Cock record, Aspects of Physics … I don’t even know. And we also had a bunch of life stuff happen there. Zach had his first kid. I had two more kids.

You and Zach are involved in so many projects at the same time. Why is that? We like to do more than one thing. You don’t expect a director to make just sequels of the same movie or an author to only make one series of books. Why should it be different with a band?

Are you ever not working on new material? No, I’m always working.

What have you found to be most inspirational? Time. I find the more time I have to sit and concentrate, I can come up with more interesting things.

Put these three words that describe your music in order of personal importance: original, catchy and satisfying. Well, satisfying obviously would be the first one, because the object of the other two would be to be satisfying. Then original. Then catchy.

Why is catchy last? I definitely think it’s important, but if I only have three, it seems less important. I think original is more important, because a lot of people just rip off other bands that are catchy. Too many people make a living off of ripping off other people.

You’ve described Pinback’s sound as “lo-fi sci-fi.” What does that mean? Well, as far as lo-fi, our records only sound as good as we can figure out how to make them, because we don’t really have much of a history of production or anything. We’ve always done everything ourselves. And the way we go about things is probably ridiculously wrong. And sci-fi, I mean, we’re just into that. That’s what the band name is about, part of our imagery is, you know, dumb sci-fi stuff. We’ve always been attracted to the idea of junk, like space junk, sci-fi culture, like in [Star Wars IV:] A New Hope, dirty robots and stuff.

It seems like science fiction, at it’s core, focuses on hi-tech and new and shiny. Not necessarily. Like, in Dark Star … once it was shiny but after a while, you know, it’s a dump beyond the stars. Everything is just covered with a layer of dust. To somebody, it’s great. Then to others, it’s not.

What’s your favorite sci-fi movie or series? It’s probably A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back. There’s so many good ones. Well … a lot less good ones than in any other genre. There’s maybe 20 great sci-fi films, and that’s about it.

Do you enjoy the bad sci-fi films, though? Oh yeah! I count those as good ones (laughs).

Any recent ones you like? Moon was awesome. Moon was my f*cking Dune. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to see it. If you like sci-fi movies, it’s amazing. If you like things like THX 1138, slow boring sci-fi that doesn’t seem to go anywhere but is awesome, Moon is great.

Are you excited about Star Wars: Episode VII? I’m super excited.

Not cautiously excited? I would be cautiously excited, but it can’t be worse [than the prequels]. It’s impossible. And I hope that everyone would have learned from their mistakes. And the fact that George Lucas is not involved directly is really good.

Who’s your dream director? I was thinking about this, actually. I don’t know. There’s so many. I’d like to see what Duncan Jones would do with it. Because Moon has a lot to do with the flavor of THX and then Star Wars, but you know, that’s where it came from. So maybe he would understand. Or Brad Bird maybe. At least the writing would be amazing. I don’t know; I’m afraid to speculate. [Quentin] Tarantino (laughs). I know that wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie. It’d be something else.

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