Rob Crow is a busy dude. In addition to being one-half of the popular indie rock band Pinback, he's also a dad, husband and a member of a slew of other bands, including Goblin Cock and Optiganally Yours. With Pinback in town to promote their recently-issued fifth LP, Information Retrieved, a blast of precision-crafted pop arrangements, we caught up with the bearded bandleader to talk about the record, their first in five years -- and lots more. Pinback plays the Showbox Market on January 23rd.
Do you work on one project at a time or are you constantly juggling multiple things? Constantly juggling multiple things. That's why there are some records that get finished in weeks and some that get finished in eight years.
Is it hard to jump in and out of each one for a short time? No, it's easy. The only thing that gets in the way is scheduling all of them. Focus is not a problem really.
So you could do Goblin Cock one day and Pinback the next without issue? Or Goblin Cock, Pinback and Optiganally Yours on the same day. It works for me. It might not work for everybody.
You guys seem to get equal amounts or praise and criticism for finding a sound and sticking with it. Do you intentionally try and to keep the same sonic template each time out? We don't necessarily try to but I like having it. It's always funny to me that people complain that we have our own thing, as if they'd prefer that we sound like some other guy.
It seems like half of the people want their favorite bands to evolve while the other half doesn't. I definitely think we evolve. The people that complain that we don't are the people that aren't paying attention in the first place. They're also probably the people that only like the fourth Black Sabbath singer's records or something.
How did you guys find your way to the precision of your sound? That's just what we do naturally. To think about it too much would make it not happen.
Are you guys generally in agreement... We're not in agreement on much [laughs]. We're very different people.
Well isn't one of the downsides of being in a two-person band that sometimes there isn't a winner when you have a disagreement? Hopefully there is no winner. Just the song wins.
Can you tell me about the album title and where Information Retrieved came from? I would love to talk about it but I'm kind of doing a thing where I've said that I won't talk about what anything really means for at least a year. On the album, and the two seven-inches that preceded it, there are all these hidden things about what each piece means. When we play shows, I like to hang out with people afterwards and talk to them and sometimes people don't have anything to talk about, so this is a way of having something, like, "Does this mean that?" It's a fun way to communicate with people.
How is touring in your 40s different from doing it in your 20s? It's harder to be away from your kids and family. I still love to do it.
Does that affect how long you will stay on the road for? Lately it has now that we all have kids. It's like two weeks on, two weeks off kind of thing. I'm just thankful to be able to do it. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about any of it because it's all a gift.
Do you feel like you're able to give each project 100% if you're also having to give 100% to being a dad and husband? When its time to be a dad, I'm a dad 100%. When it's time to be to perform, I'm performing 100%, unless I'm sick, and then I get depressed.
So you don't feel like Pinback could be bigger if you could spend nine months out of the year touring or something? I don't think that would be the case. If I could take my kids along with me it might be different, because that's what I used to do, but I can't really pull that off anymore.
Do your kids think what you do is cool? I'm afraid of them thinking it's cool.
Because you don't want them to be musicians? I want them to do whatever they want. I'm afraid of me accidentally pressuring them into any kind of lifestyle. Whatever they want to do I will fully get behind.
Do your kids like your music? They do. They have to listen to it a lot when I'm producing or mixing stuff because I have to listen to it in the car a lot. They call it "daddy songs" and sometime they say, "I want to hear daddy songs!"
Have you written any kids music? Yes, I was working with some friends on a proposed kids show. I have all these songs in the chamber for whatever I want to use them for. I started making my own children's audio story called "Storytime with Rob Crow," which is on Bandcamp.
Does that fact that you're a dad and have a family have any affect on your artistic decisions, like having a band called Goblin Cock? The kids love that! [Laughs.] My oldest still doesn't know what it means, but for a while he was calling it Goblin Rock.
Which I suppose is better than talking about Goblin Cock at school. He's at an art school so it'll all work out fine I'm sure. [Laughs.]
It seemed like there was a time in the mid-90s when the San Diego music scene was hot, with bands like Unwritten Law and Blink and Rocket From the Crypt getting lots of attention. Is it still healthy? It was very different then. What you're talking about is kind of what killed it.
Why, because A&R guys descended on the town? More the idea of A&R guys coming to town. Everybody looked at Rocket and [Drive Like] Jehu and tried to be them or were coming to town to try to be like them, but you can't be like those guys. Those guys are singularly amazing. It used to be a lot of rad, weird bands all over the place like early Three Mile Pilot and Power Dresser and Crash Worship and Boilermaker and all these goofy bands that made really interesting music that was totally powerful, but without sounding like anything else - and without desire to sound like anything else. Zach did that - the Geffen thing - and it ruined his band. The popularity of the city made there be a bunch of shitty bands that they think of when they think of San Diego. Here's what really bums me out about it: It stifled the creativity of a bunch of other people. But that was a long time ago.