Last year, Pinback returned after five years of recording silence with the new album: Information Retrieved. Even bigger for this writer is the San Diego-based band’s return to South Florida for a rare live appearance coming up this Wednesday at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. The show marks only the group’s second appearance this far south since 2004, in support of the duo’s third album, Summer in Abaddon. Back then, the band travelled as far south as Miami to a space called I/O (now Vagabond), skipping this area during support of its 2007 album Autumn of the Seraphs.

Pinback formed on a lark in 1998 when multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rob Crow and bassist/vocalist Armistead Burwell Smith IV’s found themselves with some downtime from other projects. The resulting catchy, crisp pop rock soon outshone any of their earlier bands in terms of interest and record sales. I spoke with Crow last month for a pair of stories in the “Broward-Palm Beach New Times.”

To read the print story, jump through the logo below:

Broward Palm Beach New Times logo

To read a nice, long rambling tangent we took on science fiction movies and Star Wars in particular, jump through the logo below for this left-field story in the paper’s music blog, “The County Grind”:

county_grind logo

As fun as it was to recall our mutual memories of watching the first Star Wars movies in the theater, I found it rather difficult to get Crow going about his music. Here is a back and forth that captures our repartee, where he recalls memories of the band’s first South Florida show, what to expect of the band live and his musical relationship with a man he calls Zack for short, and considers his opposite.

Hans Morgenstern: What do you remember about the Miami visit, the last time you were here, like 5 years now? This is your first return here since then, but in Fort Lauderdale.

Rob Crow: Yeah. We went swimming at dusk. I didn’t know why nobody else was in the water. It’s because it’s crawling with sharks.

That or everyone’s getting ready to hit the clubs. No partying for you guys?

Not for us. We’re the nice-guy band.

I was impressed with how well you captured these songs that are rather intricate and polished in a live setting.

I remember that room. If you could hear anything, that’d be amazing.

I’ve seen many bands there, and it’s always too loud, but I could actually hear the different parts.

(laughs) What a bonus when you can hear the parts!

How do you pull it off live now as a three-piece? 

They’ve been our best shows, as a three-piece, as everyone has wholly agreed.

No keyboards? 

Nope. They will still be there. They just won’t be seen. They’ll just be heard.

So they will be pre-recorded. I was sorry to hear about Terrin Durfey’s passing. How long was he a touring member of the band?

I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it in those terms. The timeline gets confusing for me, and depressing, to be honest, so I don’t dwell on it.

I cannot help but notice a sort of poetic tribute of you all touring as a three-piece, without a keyboardist. Is that a sort of tribute to Terrin or out of respect?

In some ways, like there’s some things we don’t do anymore because he did on the desks, and nobody could ever do that. But we had other people doing his parts as well for years, when he couldn’t do it anymore (coughs) and they were nice, great people and everything, but everything just works better for us as a three-piece.

There’s this clean sound you guys have that seems to harken back to the first polished rock records that really started coming out in the mid-’70s and up, like the Police.

I like the Police. I mean, when we were making our first album, it was one of the few bands that both of us liked, that we listened to while we were dicking around or whatever. He and I have very different views on almost anything, so when we agree on something it’s nice.

Like what views are different?

I don’t know. They’re all different.

How about musically?

He doesn’t own any records. He owns maybe five records, and I own, and I’m an archivist. (laughs)

There’s never any indulgence in feedback in your music, like dominating a whole song.

Zack’s always trying to do that on his bass. It doesn’t work for me.

So you stop him when he pulls that?

We both stop each other from doing stuff. Yeah, I’ve learned that it would be bad to do on guitar, and I just kinda get nauseous when it happens on the bass that much (laughs). That doesn’t mean we won’t do something that does that sometimes. That’d be great to figure out how to make it work.

Where was the new album recorded?

We had a studio that we were both working at [S.D.R.L. Studios, San Diego, California]. But he doesn’t work there anymore, and we both have home studios.

Do you record to tape at all?

No, we used to try to do that, but it was such a nightmare. We just gave up. We had a 16-track, big old giant thing and all this stuff, and were like, ugh, it doesn’t sound better. And we literally cannot afford to keep it in shape.

Ever think of going into a studio?

There’s no way that the two of us could go to a studio where you pay by the hour [He pauses to think about it, and his voice even sounds exhausted as he continues] because it’s just a nightmare. Everything we do is at a snail’s pace… Everything.

* * *

Here are Pinback’s current tour dates (including an appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon:

March 12 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
March 13 – Fort Lauderdale, FL @ The Culture Room
March 14 – Jacksonville, FL @ Freebird Live
March 15 – West Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern
March 16 – Richmond, VA @ The Canal Club
March 17 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
March 19 – Late Night With Jimmy Fallon @ Rockefeller Plaza, NY (check local listings to watch the performance)
March 21 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
March 22 – Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
March 23 – Little Rock, AR @ Revolution Music Room

Finally, just for fun, here is all the room I had for the band’s first South Florida appearance in Miami, almost 10 years ago, which ran in print before web mattered as much as it does now. Again, jump through the image:

Miami New Times logo

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2013 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

I have produced another artist profile piece for another “New Times” publication in South Florida. This one appears in the “Broward/Palm Beach New Times,” and it has something to do with Roger Waters’ upcoming June 15 performance of the Wall in Broward County. No, it is not Roger Waters (“He’s not talking,” I was told) but his son, Harry Waters, who has toured with the former Pink Floyd bassist/vocalist/songwriter since 2001. We spoke via phone, last month, while the band took a break between shows in Los Angeles. “Lovely nice weather,” he said of the place, in his quick, chirpy English accent. He has his own show worth noting that will take place in South Florida a couple of days after the Wall show at Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution Live (buy tickets). The show benefits local 501©(3), Community Arts & Culture.

You can read the entire piece after the jump through the publication’s logo below. It also features an interview with a South Florida-based saxophonist, Michael Sinisgalli, who collaborated with Harry once before and will participate in this up-coming show:

Though he started learning piano at the age of 8, following his parents suggestion, the 34-year-old Waters would not find a true love for the instrument until several years later. “I definitely wasn’t one of those prodigal children that picks it up, and that’s all they do,” he said. “I played kind of for four years, but I didn’t practice or anything, and then when I was about 12, I got a new teacher, and he sparked my passion for piano music, like boogie woogie and Scott Joplin and that kind of thing, and Fats Waller.”

In my profile on the younger Waters, we take a closer look at how that early passion in swinging piano music led him to form his own jazz band, which he plays on the side of these Wall shows since they kicked off in the fall of 2010 (Roger Waters to do the Wall on next tour; I also reviewed an early performance of one of these shows here: Waters’s ‘the Wall’ live cements theme with vivid production). The younger Waters said he has played a few of these jazz shows during the tour of the Wall, and this would mark his second in South Florida. “I did a few in Argentina, in BA, which was really nice. I did some in Eastern Europe, so kinda of as many as I can. Yep! Yeah, they’re really cool.”

Here’s some recently up-loaded, HD videos of some of his performances in Buenos Aires, Argentina:

Finally, this has to be my favorite number of his, “Jarrets Dreams,” and we talked about it at length. He described it as “more of  a textual kind of thing, and it’s a little longer. There is a melody. There is a tune and some soloing over some very basic chords … I never solo on that because the piano is not the melody. It’s like a groove-based thing. It’s like one of those Herbie Hancock tunes where you have a bass line that just goes throughout … and the piano serves that purpose. It just underpins the rest of that song. If I stop playing that phrase, the song would disappear (laughs). I can’t really solo over that because you have to play it with two hands, that phrase. You can’t play it with one hand, so it’s not like I can play with one hand and then improvise over the top. So that’s my role in that song, it’s just to keep the song going. Yeah, it has that hypnotic, repetitive kind of nature, which is what I was going for, so I’m pleased with that song. It’s fun to play, really.”

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2012 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

I try to balance this blog with an interest in both independent film and music. But lately movie reviews have certainly been favored… so much so that I do not feel I can fairly offer a truly objective list of top 10 albums of 2011 (though February will certainly see a list of 20 of the best films I saw this year, as usual). I do plan a year-end music review post, but it will be one of the most subjective year-end posts/articles I have ever written.

In the meantime, as the new year looms, what better time to make my resolution to bring more music coverage to this blog for 2012, starting today with a personal music-oriented excursion that proves I still have a strong interest in vinyl records.

Last weekend, I made by bi-annual visit to Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Rodeway Inn, about an hour-long drive north of my home, for a small, regular Florida record show that just may be the only routine record collector’s meet in South Florida. The last time I went, about six months ago, I arrived late and came out with scant few offerings to boast about. This time I was going to pay the extra three bucks for early entry (the show has a $7 cover for early entry before 10 a.m. and $5 after that [$4 with the flyer I had]), and it paid off. Below are pictures of the haul with some notes on the records.

One of my early great finds resulted in some awesome David Bowie bootlegs offered at a steal of a price: $3 for vinyl bootlegs, including some of his most acclaimed: Slaughter in the Air, the Thin White Duke and Resurrection on 84th Street. The first was culled from a performance in 1978. I’ve heard that live material well enough on the official Stage live album, and it’s not the greatest period for Bowie in concert. The latter two are both from the 1976 Station to Station tour, the Resurrection set is one of Bowie’s most famous concerts, at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. That has since been reissued on both CD and vinyl by EMI Records, as noted in many of my most popular postings on this blog (Could ‘Station to Station’ be EMI’s final Bowie reissue?; David Bowie’s Station to Station to be reissued in fancy 9-disc package; U.S. release date announced for Bowie’s Station to Station reissue; Advance copies for Bowie’s Station to Station features DVD-A).

I was comfortable to be in the presence of those records but would not see myself playing them over enough, if at all. I was interested in some other Bowie boots that included this cheap, black and white covered version of Bowie’s live appearance on the Midnight Special in 1974, offering previews of music that would end up on Diamond Dogs and covering his earlier hits, entitled Dollars in Drag – The 1980 Floor Show.

Then there was this double LP boot entitled The Serious Moonlight Rehearsals.

It’s another live era that never did Bowie much justice but also saw him selling out stadiums, following the release of his hit 1983 album Let’s Dance. The titles of the tracks, like “I Really Meant to Say” and “Hinterland” intrigued, though those are probably made up titles by the bootlegger of popular Bowie cuts.

I expect “Hinterland” will turn out to be “Red Sails,” but I cannot ever recall hearing that song live from a 1983 performance recording, and the cover and vinyl looked to be in good enough condition to make it worth checking out. But the special icing on this cake of this boot is the fact that guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn is advertised as having participated, and though he famously recorded guitar for Let’s Dance, giving the album quite a distinctive sound, he did not actually join the tour (Earl Slick came in for that), so this should make for an interesting spin on the record player.

Then there was this “Original Master Recording™” of The Rise and Fall and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, one of the few essential Bowie albums missing from vinyl collection. Though the cover looked worn, the vinyl did not, and these Original Master Recording™s (yes, they earned the TM on that) from the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs are no joke.

It’s rare to stumble across Bowie records at record shows, much less a whole stack at cheap prices. Eight bucks for three rare Bowie records. I made up for that early extra cost at that one booth, for sure.

Right next to that seller, another guy was looking to dump this excellent condition Donovan double album, A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, for $12:

All inserts (12 individually printed pages of lyrics for each song on the second LP in a folder) were there and the vinyl records looked great.

Plus, the box looked amazing with no tears or splits. The back cover had a photo of Donovan with the guru of Transcendental Meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, attached to it (I would later learn, that this record indeed covered his feeling of initiation into TM).

I also went ahead and grabbed a great condition Mellow Yellow record from this dealer for $1. The cover looked worn, but, more importantly, as far as vinyl, I saw no scratches at all on the record.

I’ve recently been on a Donovan kick, as I have grown to realize his importance in bridging the gap between folk and psychedelic music in the late sixties. The music is phenomenal and resonates to this day on many contemporary acts. I like both Donovan and Belle and Sebastian for their mutual retro rock feel, though one is of the era and one is paying tribute to the era. Also, both Donovan and Belle and Sebastian frontman, Stuart Murdoch share a similar lilt to their voices, seeing as both hail from Scotland.

This find is a promo-only single for Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting”:

Though it has the same song on both sides, the vinyl looked immaculate and the cover, a still image from her music video for the same song, is just a gorgeous, very literal (if unscientific) expression of the song title. It screams steam-punk technology before the term “steam-punk” ever came around. Plus, the track is from my all-time favorite Kate Bush album, 1985’s the Hounds of Love. Heck, Hounds of Love is probably one of the greatest albums of that year, even.

That record was $2, and, for the same price, I also picked up OMD’s Dazzle Ships, from 1983, only because I’ve heard it hyped by some musician friends of mine. Trusting them…

It also looked to be in great condition. Though you never know what you’ll get when you put the need to the vinyl, I do try to avoid any easy-to-spot scratches on the vinyl.

Speaking of, some of the more expensive records I splurged on that day included a $15 Music for Films record by Brian Eno, which I bargained down from $20 for a couple of tiny scratches (the music on there is too subtle to mar with pops and surface noise).

At another dealer’s table, I found a record from Hans-Joachim Roedelius, one of the founders of those electronic Krautrock pioneers Cluster (the softer, piano-oriented member): a 1984 album on the EG label, entitled Geschenk des Augenblicks – Gift of the Moment. For a spot of dried, water damage on the record, which I hope to get off with a record cleaning solution, I got half off the $10 asking price.

That same dealer also had an amazing looking version of an original A&M Records release of the Sky’s Gone Out from Bauhaus, with the original inner picture sleeve of the boys in the band and lyrics for $15. With the seller going half on the Roedelius record, I felt this record was also worth going for.

All told, I spent just $67 and walked out with nine records, including a double album and box set. Not bad.

Maybe this will lead to some individual reviews down the road, as one of the great things about hearing albums on vinyl is the rediscovery of a recording that still holds up nicely to this day. I’ve already started putting together a list of older records I’ve found on-line or at local record stores dating from the nineties on back that I hold up as some of the best of all time or of their times. Next year, beyond the smattering of new music reviews and even profiles (I have one interview with a major musician from the upcoming Weezer cruise in the can), readers of this blog can expect the celebration of some nice vinyl records, including original pictures of the artifacts.

Hans Morgenstern

(Copyright 2011 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)