The Big Pink gained international notoriety with their breakthrough single 'Dominos' and subsequent 2009 album A Brief History of Love. They have just released sophomore Future This and UTR caught up with one half of The Big Pink Milo Cordell to chat about what they've been up to between 2009 and now and how they wanted their follow-up to sound.
Hey Milo, how are you?
I'm good thanks, a bit tired, but good.
Have you started touring the new album yet?
We’ve been playing a few shows here and in Japan and just warming up for 2012.
Is that when the promotion for the album is going to start rolling out?
Yeah we’ve just been kind of doing lots of little shows outside London and then we played this little pub in Hackney for a Christmas thing and so we’re just gearing up for next year.
Have you been enjoying playing the new songs live, how does it feel?
This record was kind of written to be the antithesis of the last record because the last record was quite slow, and after a while it got hard to play live and we wanted to write something to be fun live. It’s much more bouncy and uplifting and kind of positive whereas the last record was sombre and a bit downbeat at times. So this is fun to play live because it was written that to be that way.
Are the positive vibes representative of you guys as a band more generally?
The last record was probably a bit too personal for a first record. We’re calling the first album our difficult second album really and the second our debut. It’s more about who we are as a band and people. We have been having so much fun travelling around the world playing shows and meeting people and then you go out for an hour and play a show and half the songs were really upbeat and half the songs were really down and we just wanted to go out and be ‘out’ and have a really good time on stage. That’s why this record was written; to go out and play live and have fun.
Tell me a little bit about the writing and recording process.
Yeah last summer we were doing the festivals and every time we got a couple days off we’d go into the studio and bounce ideas around and we didn’t really ever stop writing. I was talking to a friend who was like ‘don’t stop writing, just keep going’ so we didn’t stop; all that tour we were writing. When we finished touring we gave ourselves a structure and went into the studio every day – 9-5 - and we decided to work with this guy called Paul Epworth who we worked with on Dominos.
We knew we were going to use a producer because we didn’t want to lose our minds in the finer details of each track – like ‘ah that high hat sound’ etc. like we did last time because we recorded it ourselves – this time we knew we were going to have a producer so the songs would have a life after we’d put them down. We just really put them down in the true sense of the demo; got the beat down, got the parts and melody down and then moved onto the next one. We worked really quickly and then from there we gave them to Epworth and he got into the details, which is a different way of working for us but it was heaps of fun.
It sounds like you goot an energy across that you may not have got if you were focusing on the finer details?
Yeah that was kind of the whole thing; we just wanted it to be a purist record really. I mean all the songs have a positive leaning – there are songs that are heartbreaking and there’s death on the album – but all with a banging beat behind it.
What drew you to the sound you've utilized over the last couple of albums in the first place?
I feel like we’re a Wikipedia pop band. We draw from all over the place at all times. We work quite quickly as a band and we don’t get attached to songs and the idea is always to write to get a beat down that you can nod your head to and I think it just came naturally to us. We’ve always played music and we’ve always used programmed beats and guitar.
Tell me what you were inspired by / listening to for this album.
We went back and listened to our classic albums; My Bloody valentine or Smashing Pumpkins. We listened to a lot of the last Kanye record and Watch the Throne – that was a big influence - the fact that it’s got so many great little parts. Each song flows really well and they give life to eachother when they’re together and there were a few songs that we took that inspiration from like ‘oh why don’t we try this drum beat that’s got like four different parts on it’. We kind of went back to our teenage hip hop days. The thing is we’ve always kind of listened to hip hop and guitar music and tried to meld them together.
Tell me about the writing process between the two of you.
It’s not really a process because it comes so naturally to us that’s just how we write music - we've grown up with it. Sometimes you can really labour over a song and sometimes it’s done in a day. Like ‘Superman’ was written in one day and then something else – something like the title song on the record took us about a year to be happy with on record and live. It’s a weird one and sometimes they just come out really easily and sometimes they’re really intricate and sometimes you get lost in the lyrics.
Are the lyrics an important thing to you or is it more about the beats and sonic arrangements?It’s definitely both. We’ve always wanted there to be an emotional impact as well as a sonic impact; to pack a punch in the face and one in the heart as well.
Are there any overarching lyrical observations to be found in the latest album or is it more random than that?
I think in quite a few of the songs there is a repeating theme of - without getting to preachy - ‘this is your one life and this is your one chance and you’ve just got to go for it’. In 'Stay Gold' it's particularly obvious, but they’ve all got themes about going for it and believing in yourself and not worrying about the dark times. There's a couple of love songs on there as well of course.