Ariel Pink Who said anything about pop music?

Photo: Nicolas Amato
"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 not forgotten.

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 Tracks?

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 Merry

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 preconception.

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 CUTS

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 done mixing?

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 "Pop Music"?

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 with it?

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 unfair? Lazy?

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 am.

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 The Doldrums?

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......

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