Exclusive: The Big Pink on their craziest tour story
Psychedelic. Electronic. Hard Rocking. All are accurate descriptors of UK based band The Big Pink. The trio, comprised of Robbie Furze, Dave McCraken, and Mary Charteris saw massive success with their first album, A Brief History of Love, that included the singles ‘Velvet’ and ‘Dominos’, the latter of which was famously sampled by Nicki Minaj, so there’s a lot to live up to for the pop-rock outfit’s upcoming third album due for release later this year. We caught up with lead singer Robbie Furze, to chat music, videos, touring, and why having a hit single is perhaps more of a curse than a charm.
Firstly where did the name ‘The Big Pink’ come from?
The name came from The Band. Their first record was titled, Music from the Big Pink. When I was growing up my parents played it a lot and we all watched "The Last Waltz" every Christmas. The Band always symbolized the true essence of rock and roll and being the real deal. They toured consistently for 15 years. It made sense to name my band after them if I was going try and live by this ethos.
It’s my understanding that you were in experimental noise bands prior to this one?
That is true. A band called ‘Panic DHH,’ we were signed to Digital Hardcore Records. I played guitar in this band for a couple of years in my early 20’s and then gave him some demos of some stuff I was working on with this crazy Finnish dude called Anti. He loved it, signed us and put it out.
Have you ever lived in a squat?
Panic DHH was pretty much a squat band. We played and lived in squats all over Europe for about 4 years. We had a shitty ex-parcel force van that covered a lot of ground, I think we drove over 35,000 miles in it. I built a sleeping compartment over the gear that was too close too the roof of the van. It was pretty impossible to sleep in it with 3 over people. I loved my squat days; we met a lot of amazing and weird people and played at some incredible squat parties.
Craziest tour story?
Once in the middle of a tour in the US, I can’t exactly remember where, we did this show and then partied at the venue with a few of the crew and some of people who worked at the place. At one point the in-house lighting guy told his girlfriend to do a dance on the stage. He dropped the lights and put some music on. She came out on to the stage dragging a chair behind her and started to doing a striptease. This was all pretty out the blue but we all watched obviously. Then I noticed that also watching was the lesbian promoter. But she wasn’t just watching she had unbuttoned her dungarees that were now by her ankles and she had a large vibrator and she was toying herself to the performance and in front of all of us. All a bit surreal and a bit too much to process.
In a perfect world who’s career would you like to mirror?
Fuck that s a hard one, I would like to pick someone like maybe Bowie. Bowie has always been so fearless with his creatively. In my opinion, his style and music is truly the most original and groundbreaking of any artist in the last 30 years, maybe even ever.
What is the general theme of Album No.3?
There is a sort of theme that developed over the writing and recording. Its a lot about learning to live and love. Being true and open to yourself and making your own path. Shit am I sounding a bit wanky? Its a hard one to really pin-point but i guess you write about how you feel and what you are going through in your life at the time. Since the last record me and the Big Pink have been on a journey of personal discovery and these are the songs that came from it.
‘High Times’ is a hit, no doubt about it. Is there a video in the works?
Thank you man! Its my favorite track on the record. Hopefully Jake Chapman is shooting the video in the next few weeks.
There’s a video of you on Youtube knocking out a disgruntled audience member in Seattle. How did it feel to take matters into your own hands at your own show!?
I felt terrible to be honest but it does look much worse than it was. The guy was being a dick and fucking up the show for a lot of people in the crowd so if I was in the same situation again things would probably go the same way.
Is it true you turned down a Coldplay tour after the success of ‘A Brief History of Love’?
It was maybe Kings of Leon not Coldplay. But I wanted to do it, but at the time it just didn’t make sense.
Whats the best piece of advice you’ve ever given or been given?
If I was able go back in time and give the 20 year old Robbie some advice I would say if you really want to make music as your career, try not to write a collection of songs just for the sake of being in a band. Really think about what you’re trying to say in each song and make sure every detail of each song fits within that. At the end of the day you are telling stories, so make sure it at least means something to you and then hopefully other people can relate to it.
In your opinion is a hit single more of a blessing or a curse?
Well the closest we got was “Dominos." It was a pretty successful song world wide and definitely was our most successful song. It’s a hard question because a hit song can be great for a band but it can also become bigger than a band. At shows you can’t help but feel that a large percentage of the crowd is always waiting for you to play the ‘hit’. On the plus side it does push you to beat it with new tracks. I would love to write a hit album and then the The Big Pink would be remembered for the right reasons.
When can we expect you to perform in NYC next? we would love to have you play here at Milk.
I hope later this year. I would love to do our first show at Milk! Let’s make that happen.
The Big Pink photographed by Jamie Burke for Milk Made.