Q&A: The Big Pink
By Andy Malt | Published on Wednesday 11 January 2012
The Big Pink’s Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell first struck up a collaboration in 2007, releasing their debut single, ‘Too Young To Love’, later that year.
Having signed to 4AD in 2009, the London-based duo earned due plaudits with the anthemic noise of their fourth single ‘Dominos’, serving up a debut album, ‘A Brief History Of Love’, shortly after. Seeking to touch on all facets of love as its overarching theme, the LP was a forward-looking foray into brash Britpop pastiche, rich in new-romantic notions, driving drum beats and dark, knotted electronica.
Having co-produced part of ‘A Brief History’, Paul Epworth’s gilded touch is also ever-present on The Big Pink’s forthcoming second album, ‘Future This’, due out via 4AD on 16 Jan. As he and Robbie prepare to begin their UK tour at Bristol’s Thekla on 8 Feb, Milo Cordell spoke to CMU Editor Andy Malt about the making of ‘Future This’, sharing studio time with Paul Epworth, and how he balances his role as CEO of Merok Records with being in a band.
AM: When did you start working on the new album? Was it written in one block?
MC: A friend offered me some advice once, that, whatever you do, don’t ever stop writing as if you do, you kinda have to start at the start again. And we’ve listened to that and never really stopped. I think it’s put us in a good position, as when we finished touring in September 2010, most of the record was recorded straight after, between then and February last year.
AM: Was the writing and recording process different this time around?
MC: We used a few samples, which was a different process and an exciting way to start a tune for us. We knew we were going to properly work with a producer this time around so we didn’t have to go mad and finish all the tracks ourselves, just record demos to work on later.
AM: How has your sound developed on this record?
MC: There are pretty much no live drums, so we really had to work on our drum programming. I think we took the bits we still liked off the first record and developed them.
AM: The title of ‘A Brief History Of Love’ references that the songs on the album were connected by the theme of love. Is there a connecting theme on ‘Future This’?
MC: Not really, and not in the same obvious way. I guess this is a record that looks forward into life and doesn’t spend much time dwelling on love lost.
AM: What led you to choose a sample from ‘O Superman’ by Laurie Anderson as the basis for ‘Hit The Ground (Superman)’? Is Laurie Anderson a particular influence?
MC: Not particularly, but I find her a very interesting lady. I had just been to the Barbican to see an art show of hers and I was talking to my brother, who is fifteen years older than me, and he said he remembered when ‘O Superman’ first came out and when he heard it on the radio how weird and out of place it sounded. I immediately went to search it out, found it, and knew from the opening ten seconds that I could sample it and make something fun around it.
AM: How did you end up working with Paul Epworth on ‘Future This’, and what effect did he have on how the album turned out?
MC: Paul worked with us on a couple of tracks in the past, most notably ‘Dominos’. We talked to a bunch of American producers but really didn’t want to go through the process of getting to know them while recording. We knew Paul well and trusted him even more.
AM: What was Paul like to work with?
MC: He really pushed us and we never relaxed. It was always try harder, think bigger, do better, which was great. It was like having some intense karate teacher.
AM: Did you work with other musicians again on ‘Future This’, or is it just the two of you?
MC: Mostly just us, we worked a lot with Paul on melodies and worked with our friend Daniel O’Sullivan on the title track ‘Future This’. Zan Lyons and Victoria Smith from our live band played bits and pieces here and there too.
AM: Talking of your live band, what can people expect from shows on the upcoming tour?
MC: Zan and Victoria (noise and drums) are two of the most talented musicians I have ever met, so expect a higher level of playing! The shows are gonna be a lot more upbeat and faster, we are using computer software which enables us to loop drums, and to delay both drums and vocal so the show is constantly mutating in a really fun way.
AM: How does being in The Big Pink affect your involvement with Merok? Are you still as hands on with it as you were?
MC: It does affect it at times, but I have surrounded myself with really great people at Merok that take care of most of the day to day stuff. To be honest, I love getting involved and see it as breaking the boredom of being in a band. While everyone is watching TV or playing computer games while on tour, I just go and answer my emails.
AM: Does being able to view the music industry from different angles help you in your roles as artist and label owner? Do you consider yourself foremost one or the other?
MC: I prefer the title label owner to musician, that’s for sure.
AM: What other artists are you listening to at the moment?
MC: Deptford Goth, Araab Muzik, Juicy J, Zomby, Spector.
AM: And finally, how would like to see The Big Pink develop from this point?
MC: I’d love to see us develop on our live show and really make it into something massive, like a cross between The Chemical Brothers and Spiritualized.