Ariel Pink: Interview
Who said anything about pop music?
"Controversial" might be too big a word for The Doldrums, but Ariel
Pink's "debut" album is probably responsible for more furrowed brows and
scratched heads than anything else to emerge in 2004. That it can't be
categorically dismissed is evidence enough of its significance. "Idiot savant or
idiot?" is the question a lot of people are wondering about Ariel Pink, and the
question I shouldn't have expected to answer. Instead, what I got was the same
kind of schizophrenic maelstrom his records have been subjecting me to;
alternately aloof, vulnerable, earnest, and offensive. There aren't really any
answers anyway. Ariel Pink and his music speak for themselves.
When was The Doldrums actually recorded, and under what conditions?
Goldigger and Chz Mountain: the Doldrums was recorded between Dec. 99 and
April 00. the last track, Bobby Pyn, was recorded in september 03. i threw that
on to keep a typical 40 min. + lp format. but the rest of the doldrums
was recorded in a room i was renting in a ranch style compound up in Val Verde.
apperantly the next dude who rented that room committed suicide a month after
moving in. probably because of me. Eddie Ruscha Jr.
Sore Eros.i was smoking a lot of weed. doing other drugs here and there. my room
was a mess as it is now. i was seeing a girl who lived in LA. i was half assing
my last semester at California Institute of the Arts. John Maus
I saw a picture of a drawing you did in 2000, what looked like black ink on a
large white wall. Can you tell me more about that? It looks like there's some
male/female duality/symmetry going on.
oh yeah, that was my "thesis" show. i drew something on the gallery wall. i
don't know. i didn't really explain it back then, so why try to now? i don't
like pontificating on art, or endorsing the ongoing pontification in regards to
Art's What's and Why's. i don't care about my own art (or anyone elses) enough
to really have any kind opinion. when it comes to discussing music though i'm a
total snot- it's my achilles heel. i keep myself in check, but occasionally
ideas about music get the best of me to the annoyance of all within earshot. but
Kudos to you for doing your research.
There's also a picture of you with R. Stevie Moore on your site, and I
noticed you cover one of his songs on Lover Boy. How has his music influenced
you? Have you ever recorded anything with him?
stevie and i have collaborated on many tracks, through the mail and together in
person. they've been showcased alternately on a few of our respective albums.
he's a total influence on me, as a person and a musician, and i'm only too lucky
to call him my friend. his presence looms large like a shadow over my many
acheivements; and indeed our camraderie serves to strengthen my desire to
continue making music and put myself out there if for no other reason than to
shed some public light on his criminally unacknowledged legacy, 30 years and
running. with my help he just might make the cover of MOJO before he's dead and
How many other CDRs have you released?
Raven Fenbaum -too many to mention, but the official one's are HOUSE ARREST and
Loverboy (Haunted graffiti 5, and 6 respectively) on Ballbearings Pinatas
Records. and WORN COPY (hg 8) on Rhystop Records. Koh and Weise
CoL:other titles unofficially released include: FF>>, Scared Famous,
Underground, DELUXXE, Farewell American Primitive, Confessions, Odditiesodomy
vol. 1-4, Elan, DUH,.... many others, under various project aliases, papermashe,
ariel rosenbergs thrash n' burn and showcasing many collaborations with many
different artists like Holy Shit, Larson, Atheif, Goldigger. most were just
assembled onto cassette by me, and given away to friends.
How was The Doldrums chosen from all your CDRs to be released on Paw
i suggested it. they actually said thet were gonna pass on it but apperantly it
grew on them and after a few months they gave the green light. lucky me.
Can you describe your first encounter with Animal Collective? Were you aware
of their music when they approached you? What is your opinion of it now?
Farmer Dave: a mutual friend of ours, jimi hey of All Night Radio, the Rapture
and Beachwood Sparks, made the introduction at an Animal Collective show summer
2003. it was very casual. i just gave them a CDr i had handy, not expecting
anything. wasn't even aware they had their own label. and not so familiar with
their recordings besides something jimi had played me not long before that. a
month or so later i recieved an email stating that they dug my stuff and wanted
to release something. the rest is history. Now of course i'm a devout fan of the
Animal Collective. Fleshpot
How long have you been recording? Because your records are so long and
fragmented, it comes across as being habitual or second-nature for you.
Fast Friends inc. since 1995. it's been a long learning process, caught on tape.
there is no quality control. recording is songwriting and vice versa. it's not
second nature exactly. sometimes the hardest thing to do is press the record
button. but once something is captured, it carries an objective power that lives
outside of time and reality. it can be manipulated, raped, abused, gangbanged
and exploited legally. like a person without a body that it can call it's own,
the world of sound has no visible territory or domain that it can claim, it
offers it's own spirit to the world for the sake of play and wonderment. Harry
So how much do you mess with something you've recorded before it finds a
place on one of your tapes?
i tinker constantly with old songs giving them make overs constantly. same with
childhood sketchbooks i still sketch in, over around and within the old older
and oldest me, i dance with every era of my life playfully without
Can you remember the first time you were really affected by music?
zoogz rift : no. it was probably before i was born.
Is your muffled sound intentional or the result of unfavorable equipment? How
might your music change if you had a more well-equipped studio at your disposal?
Matt Fishbeck(of push kings and HOLY SHIT fame). my only goal is to make it
sound OK. i don't even bother trying to make it sound good or whatever - that's
far beyond my ability, and not really my place, since i'm songwriting
simultaneaously. let me put it like this: i write music that i believe was meant
to be realized on this particular machine, namely my MT8X yamaha cassette 8
track recorder. it was not designed to realize Limp Bizcuit or even the Strokes,
and that includes their demos if they have any. i've never made a demo in my
life EVER, and can't even imagine what that would mean in terms of my music past
and future. i like to try different things so i'm not adverse to having a more
well equipped studio EVEN if it came with some guy who wanted to engineer a
whole session. art is non-hiearchical and should be shared with the willing. The
We're told that you perform every instrument on your records, and that the
percussion is actually done with your mouth. What exactly are we hearing when we
listen to your music?
Don Bolles. actual and identifyable sonic patterns masquerading as a sensibility
that's pretending to be rock and roll but embodies rock and roll's truth far
more than anything previous. Excepter
How has rock and roll failed to embody its own truth?
well, all eras considered, what can we say is the common thread behind all the
"best" rock and roll? it's a spirit long considered dead that somehow reignites
and reclaims its sustinance through the amazing inventions of those arrested by
it's truth. the best rock n' roll introduces new realities and emotions, and has
always dealt with the persuit of something different. somewhere in the early-mid
80's, about the time i was old enough to upchuck my 24 hour diet of mtv, artists
stopped looking for the NEW way (not to be confused with New Wave), and started
looking for the Right Way, i.e, the CULT "ROCKING" with BALLS! the way the
Rolling Stones woulda shoulda, WISHED they had, by using the then-current
breakthrough recording techniques that were reshaping the way a drum kit could
be recorded in a studio, for example. ever since the moment Rock n Roll
abandoned invention for revival its failed to embody its own truth. anyone truly
possessed by the spirit of rock n' roll is compelled to create a new truth about
the nature of rock n roll. this does not exclude modern composers working in the
realm of Classical music. they have a different name for the same spirit which
possesses them - THE DEVIL
How are your songs first conceived?
Kurt Heasley non-sequiter. Future Pigeon
Many times the different parts of your songs seem out of sync with each
other, or at least "unaware" of each other. Is this the result of a tireless,
deliberate science, or is the exact outcome more or less unknown until you're
no. drum tracks were laid down first, like in a professional setting. but since
the songs aren't entirely scripted i kinda had to guesstimate certain things.
add to that i didn't own a metranome, a tuner, and i was shaky, mildly
unexperienced with instruments in general - that's what you get! i'm a true
primitive, in the traditional sense. learned everything on tape; like Waiting
For Guffman, my cassette tapes are the rehersals for the "Broadway Hit" that
will never happen.
So what will it mean for you if Guffman finally arrives?
it will garner a huge sigh of relief from my end as i, and everyone else on the
planet, celebrate the day i can rest my heavy head on a large sumo mattress that
i bought from pawning my grammy at the local thrift store in the Poconos. just
think, "NO MORE PINK..." the mind can only dream - you can make it happen Jay!
Spread my gospel, and put me on the Billboards top 10 before i'm 30, so we can
retire together as I, the has-been, and you, the never-was!
Because you're the only performer on your records, your live shows must be
pretty acrobatic. How do you manage all the sounds needed? Do you enlist help?
yes, humans preferably. on occasion, monkeys. when neither was available i'd use
robots that would regurgitate my penned musical idiosyncracies behind a live
wail of kareoke hum.
Your melodies and vocals are poppy but carry a sardonic edge. Is this the
sign of contempt, detachment, or something else?
i hate myself, but that's not your fault. no contempt or detatchment. i'm just
being me. i'm humble. i express myself by trying to expand the range of my
creative imagination for better or for worse. nothing sardonic or ironic about
that in itself, though i'm not averse to adopting a different attitude if the
situation calls for it.
I don't mean to suggest that I think your music isn't sincere; I believe it
is. But it appears to be outwardly conscious and, if not reactionary, then at
least referential. But you tell me: what does Haunted Graffiti have to do with
nothing. who said anything about POP MUSIC?
Where does the name "Haunted Graffiti" come from?
i lost a game of Truth or Dare in 6th grade. don't we speak esperanto?
Maybe the most conventional song I've heard of yours is "Life in L.A.," from
what I believe is your latest recording, Worn Copy. The chorus has you
saying that "You can be so lonely/ Life in L.A. is so lonely that way." Is this
your experience with the city, and can you tell us more about your relationship
LA is my hometown. specifically Beverly Hills. my roots. that's the relationship
i have with it. that i never left my hometown should be proof i'm a starry eyed
naif who has no real grasp of what's happening in the rest of the world. i'm, in
effect, a country-bumkin. i blend in with the diversity and dystopia surrounding
me, suspecious of government-media conspiracies. i'm franchised by the
disenfranchised. in the city we get all our information, entertainment, and news
from the TV - in fact HOLLYWOOD invented TV! the only difference between me and
everyone NOT from LA is that i don't need to come ALL the way out here, to sell
myself or buy my dreams, just to put my little port-town on the map, with my
face on the cover. that's what everybody on TV is when they're off the air - a
'real' person, who grew up either fucked up, rural and backwoods. they're story
of triumph sells THEM, after the sitcom's done. it's either that or you're born
filthy rich, living large and hooked up in the BIz through family friends. in
which case, you don't really have a "real" story, cause no one cares about a Bel
Air pampared princess and her creative struggle, unless of course if she's a
character on Dawsons Creek, a "fictional" tv drama. well, i wanna put Beverly
Hills on the map GODDAMN it! it's my story and i'm gonna tell it because i'm
REAL. THAT's the story. case closed. ...sincerity, right? Kurt Cobain had
Arbedeen. Cabaret Voltaire had Sheffeild - Why do i get the feeling i'll never
get far enough put Beverly Hills on the musical map? because ALL the fucking
rappers and R'Kellys move here once they can afford to get the fuck out of
Compton, that's why! and THEN, you got every jewel-clad Persian prince and
cousin living in his own castle. and then you got morbidly ambitious white folk
with transparent denial of their own grandiosity. no they're just here for the
good schools, and cuz it's "safer". Beverly Hills is the final destination for a
hobo's fantasy- it's beyond tacky. NOT just another safe, swinging-spouse family
community over the hills and hidden in valley. NOT even a breeding ground for
artists who dabble in good old fashion guilt about their own good fortune. ask
me what i'd like to see in this City. i want every last crackpot, sqwatter,
gutterpunk, columbine kid in town to set up tent on everybodys lawn and party
24hrs a day. i want it to look on the outside the way it really is from within,
ya dig? they should hold Bar Mitzvah receptions at the BHCounty Jail. Mr. Chows
catering szechuan pork dumplings. Axl Foley anyone?.......
And you're the sacrificial lamb, who instead of abandoning LA will moan and
wail into an 8-track until you've validated it? Is there hope for LA?
sure. Fuck me.
The term "New Weird America" has been thrown around lately, loosely enough
that I imagine you may have been placed under its umbrella with Animal
Collective once or twice. What's your reaction to that label? Do you think it's
no. i think i probably am weird to alot of people. but then again, LA is a weird
place, right? most people i meet are weird cause they're not from around here. i
bet you're pretty weird, abnormal. it's a complement. everyone's weird. even my
not-so-weird "new weird america" constituents (who may or may not think they're
weird) themselves, in ways they can't even understand, they're weirder than i
The Doldrums has met with highly polarized opinions. Do you think
you're misunderstood more by those who praise you or those who criticize you?
i suppose to praise or criticize either of them would serve to alienate me from
thems, inversely. thing with humans is that no matter how well or how long you
know somebody, when it comes down to it, you don't have a clue what homeboy got
goin on in his head. fans and critics; they both understand me only too well. i
don't know them. can't generalize. if you like my persuits, this isn't a draft -
come on board if you like - or don't and we'll call a truce. love everybody.
don't criticize, educate. we are all brothers and sisters.
Except R. Kelly.
R. Kelly Mooreissey
Do you have another release planned with Paw Tracks? Is your next goal to
record a new album for wide release, or to give some exposure to something else
you've already recorded?
yup. it's in the works. another re-release, but directly following that i want
to arrange for a new set. it's probably unhealthy for me to harp on past
acheivements or to worry about they might fit into a career plan. i have too
many!!! but i also feel washed up in sense; i don't know how i did it, looking
back. i couldn't make the Doldrums today, even if i tried. sometimes i
feel like a son who's inherited artworks from his dead father. part of me wants
to bank on the family name, take the money and run!
So are you still recording as much as you used to? What has changed since
my life has changed a lot man. you really want to know? too late. i'm spent. my
life is infinately more ridiculous and heavy than i can possibly express right
now anyway. next time ask me this first, before i get too worked up. sorry for
being such a hot head.
In what direction do you see your music going from here?
same thing. only better. more meandering. and on and on. an upward trajectory in
terms of progress is almost impossible given my personality, and the lack of
limitations i've always imposed on myself. like i say in the song "interesting
results": Thank the Lord that my standards for success are SO LO.....
Your music scares me, and you won't stop making it. Why are you doing this to
us? Is it true that you're a zombie?
yes. i am a zombie. mummified and pruned by years of deafh-rock causing friction
between my chafe and loins emitting swirling toxic gas clouds of noxiously
malignant fibromialsia. the only known defense for this bowl loosening condition
is the wanton dispersion of these ethnically clean tortured meanderings into the
aural nervecenters of another persons asshole, causing much relief my groin if
only for a short time. the sonic STD triggers a series of tapeworm loops
erroneously computated indefinately, finally killing and zombifying the host
body. but study's have found that high doses of TRL in children produced a
lifetime immunity to this particular virus......