Interviewing Ariel Pink

Blake Gillespie

ariel pink sun burn

Ariel Pink. Photo by Tim Saccenti.

My first call to Ariel Pink went to voicemail, immediately
putting his infamy into play as I listened to a message that went as follows:

SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC! GIVE US A FOLLOW:


You’ve reach Ariel’s cell phone. I’m not in right now. I
will get back to you.. uhh… We ask that you do not leave a message. We’ve run
up our minutes and it costs us to check them, so if you wouldn’t mind just
calling us at a different time, we’ll most likely get back to you because we
have a call log. So we will not call back any number that is private or unknown
or whatever. So thank you. Bye.

I respected the request; waited fifteen minutes and called
back. When I got the same message, I decided this dude Ariel was a diva and
left a message, saying “This is Blake Gillespie of Impose Magazine. We had an
interview and this is me wasting your minutes.”

An hour later Ariel called me back. He was apologetic and
hungover – giving us some immediate common ground. By the end of our time, my preconceived impression of Ariel Pink was shattered and rebuilt. Some have hinted at Pink's self-awareness, but we've got the confirmation that the the hype should be limited to the music, as Mr. Pink is one laid back hombre and not another megalomaniac musician. I would also like to apologize to Ariel for wasting his minutes.

Ariel: So what magazine is this for?

Impose Magazine. Have
you heard of us?

Yeah… yeah, I have. I mean, no.

It’s quite alright.We’ve heard of you and are fans. We recently ran a
video that compared your music to the Weather Channel music
. Have you seen
that?

Well, I mean it was just one song. So come on, I didn’t take
it as a sweeping generalization or whatever. Ultimately, there’s more to it
than that. The Weather Channel isn’t so bad. It’s better than the Oxygen
channel.

You’re about to go on
tour. You’ve mentioned before that you used to get booed due to the strange set
up. Do you feel better about your chances of not getting booed now that you
have a band you’re comfortable with?

I never really felt that way. I was just just joshing
everybody when I said that. People seem to pick up on that because its on Wikipedia.
I feel great. I was born to do it.

I don’t have bad feelings at all. Not with this band.

What’s changed your
attitude?

They just rock. I’ve got a good band behind me. I don’t have
to be a… you know… you always want to be a good performer and feel that what’s
coming off the stage is representing you adequately. But, if that’s not the case…
in the past I wasn’t throwing a fit or anything. I would sow every now and then
when I had a band that was not rehearsed or missing queues.

I’m like a member of the audience. I want to be able to feel
like Scott Staff or whatever, just opening with arms wide open. I’m a critic of… My ears are the thing that I use to listen. I can’t help myself. If it sounds
bad I’ll boo myself. But, if it sounds good I’ll clap and everybody claps with
me.

It’s surprising
people that your new record is of such high production quality, coming from
those lo-fi roots. Are you feeling like the lo-fi sound is dead?

No, man it’s a natural progression. I start out in the
garage or the bedroom or whatever and this is the next step right? I don’t know
why this is surprising anybody. I got a little budget behind me. That’s what
happens. I’m surprised people pay attention anymore, that I wasn’t written off completely. Part of
the whole excitement is that people never expect me to ever clean up.

I’m a little bit clean now. I’m happy to get everybody’s
attention for a second like “hey look, I can be clean too.”

Would you consider it
an arrested development for a band to not clean up its sound after it gets a
following and starts to get money coming its way?

I just did what I could do. There’s so many different
reasons that come into play as to why it’s going to be different to even begin
to talk about it is ridiculous. It’s going to be different because I’m not
going to be playing all the instruments. It’s going to be different because it’s
not just me. There’s a producer. I can only do so much by myself. Before I was
a lot younger. Hopefully, I know what I’m doing a little bit more. Hopefully.

That’s a natural evolution. If it was the opposite way then
I’d be more concerned. How many bands start off clean and then go lo-fi?

Ha. That would be
fucking ridiculous.

Yeah man, that would be career suicide. Maybe I’ll do that
next time. I don’t know.

Next life.

Next life, yeah. It’s cool from here on out. There’s plenty
of ways for an artist to suck. I’m sure it will happen to me again – believe me.
It’s hard enough to keep a band together.

Being that you went
to Cal Arts – did you get those student loans paid off yet?

Ha. I always get the student loans bit. I went there on
scholarship. Yeah, whatever. Space camp. Space camp. It’s not really a school.
That was over a decade ago, man. I don’t know what to say about that. Ask my
dad.

Do you have any
hangover cures you’d like to share? I got a menacing one today.

Pickled plum paste always worked. It’s the most disgusting
thing I’ve ever had. It will get you sobered up in no time. If you can just
puke it out.

The best thing to do is stick with the good tequila and high
quality drink and you’ll have less of a hangover. I actually blacked out the
other day. I couldn’t believe it. I fell asleep in a parking lot… in a parking
space. It was crazy. I’ve never had that happen before.

I’ve not blacked out
in a long time, but my finger hurts and my face feels like I hit pavement. I’ve
got no bruises and all my teeth are still there, but something is not right.

So I was listening to
the opening song “Hot Tub Rub” and it made me think of “Back in the U.S.S.R”
with the jet sounds landing. Am I just thinking too much about the music or is
that an actual reference.

Really? Ha. No, man. It’s kind of like “Back in the U.S.S.A,”
you know… (sings) Back… back in the
U.S.S.S… no?

It’s more of a take on that one Eddie Murphy skit where he’s
doing James Brown. You know, on SNL (Ariel proceeded to do a very good
impression). It’s a mindless interpretation. It’s just music. It’s not plagiarism.

I gotta say this has
been a surprisingly easy interview. Given the ones I’ve read I anticipated this
would be a chore to transcribe.

Do I talk too much or something?

I’m just saying you’ve
been documented as a notorious ranter, but I don’t get that vibe today.

(Laughs) I didn’t know that. When people ask shit, I dunno…
you got me with a hangover.

Is that what you want? Do you want me to rant?

No, not at all
actually. I’m most pleased that we’re being pretty chill right now.

They got me all wrong, man.

They do. There’s just
people who are notorious for their interviews. I’ve talked to Anton Newcombe
and he’s timed to eventually explode into everything. I was concerned coming
into this, it might be a similar thing.

That’s Anton though, man. I’m just performing. I try to give
everybody everything they want.

Well, I really don’t
have any more questions. I appreciate the time.

Thanks for imposing. Take care, man and don’t believe the hype.

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