Pinback: Nothing Worthwhile Is Ever Easy

By: Robyn Rubinstein

Pinback (Armistead Burwell Smith IV & Rob Crow)
By Drew Reynolds
Dance is my philosophy. Part of me feels like you should be able to move to everything, so music that inspires me to be still and listen is a rare thing. When I heard Pinback's latest album, Autumn of the Seraphs (released 9/11/07 on Touch & Go Records), it gradually slowed me to a halt, took my attention, then nearly made me cry. It was discomforting, slightly frenetic, compelling and honest all at once. I was left with the impression of intelligent indie rockers who took ownership of their neuroses and doubt and turned them into powerful music that treads the fine line between beautiful and painful, without being overdramatic or obvious. I wish my first impression of co-founding member guitarist Rob Crow had been as good.

We were supposed to meet after his October 26 show at Bimbo's 365 Club for an interview. I was fairly surprised when his publicity contact told me that the interview was set for after the show, because in my experience, the last thing an artist wants to do after a show is give an interview, but I wasn't the one designating meeting times. I was given a "when and where" and told to be patient, with which I had no problem. A guy just finishes the first of two sold out shows, and I'm sure he wants to have a drink, shoot the shit with his bandmates, maybe take a leak and smoke a cigarette before he sits down with a writer. I was fine to wait. However, the venue steadily cleared out and he was nowhere to be found. All calls and texts to his road manager were unanswered. Soon I was the only patron left in Bimbo's and the staff was beginning to get salty with me. Just as they were on the verge of kicking me out, I saw his co-founder, bass prodigy Armistead "Zach" Burwell Smith IV, so I walked over, introduced myself and asked if he knew anything about Crow's whereabouts. Smith was nice enough to tell me that Crow had already left the venue but I could find him at Kennedy's Pub across the street. When I did locate him, he was in a back corner of the loud bar with an old friend having just ordered dinner. He did apologize for leaving and said he was still "into" our interview but he looked about as excited to talk as one would be for an inoculation that can only be injected in the ass. I felt a little bad, like I was a big imposition on a hard-working musician's precious free time, until I asked him my first question and he laughed in my face.

Rob Crow
For the record, I don't think Rob Crow is a bad guy, necessarily. I think he is a smart, talented musician who honestly doesn't give a fuck about what anyone else thinks about him. Any man who fronts a metal band – one of Crow's myriad of side projects – called Goblin Cock is obviously past the point of caring about other people's opinions. Artistically, he produces music that is completely authentic and totally unapologetic. Pinback provides the funding for all his other projects (Aspects of Physics, Other Men and The Ladies, to name a few) allowing him all the artistic freedom he needs. He struck me as a real artist, and someone genuinely bothered by the trappings of success. The end result is a man who is utterly sick of talking about himself. He won't even say the word "Pinback." He refers to the band as the "Mothership" or the "P-word," sort of like his own personal Voldemort. While we talked he took a few jabs at music writers and he went on two separate (and drunken) tirades about how he hates Bob Dylan, since he never really contributed anything to American music and therefore "takes credit for a culture that he didn't create," and how Bob Marley was a Nazi because of the racist tenets of Rastafarianism.

"I hate Dylan. Someone please explain to me why I should like Bob Dylan," Crow says. "I'm ready to be converted but no one can ever give me a good reason." Tentatively, I responded that I was pretty sure that Dylan wrote a good chunk of the American musical landscape. Crow snorted back at me, "That's not an answer."

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