Friday, April 29, 2011
Pink Reason: INTERVIEW!
Pink Reason aka Kevin Failure, is about to embark on a European tour, has a new LP coming out and is starting work on his own writing project. He kindly answered some questions for Gilded Gutter to fill us in on his new ventures.
Let’s start off by getting a run down on your upcoming European tour. Are there any places you’ll be visiting for the first time? Do you plan on revisiting favourite spots?
There will be many places I will be visiting for the first time. On my last European tour we only really had the chance to play France, Belgium and the UK. Which was great, but this time I plan on hitting up a few other Western European countries in addition to Scandinavia and Southern Europe like Italy and possibly Greece. The focus of the tour; however, is on Eastern Europe and Russia. I will be revisiting some of the places I've lived and traveled through in Russia and stopping through many Eastern European countries for my first time.
It mentions on your website you’ll be compiling research on Eastern European Underground Music while on the road. Can expound on what motivated the project, what do you hope to do with the findings?
I lived in Kurgan, Siberia between '91 and '93 where I was exposed to the region's indigenous underground/punk music. It was a defining moment for me. Over time my interest in underground music from Eastern Europe developed beyond an interest into an obsession. I'm motivated by compulsion. I plan on publishing a book about Soviet-era Siberian punk. That is the main motivation for the tour. I'm using my music as a vehicle to get me back to Russia where I can interview the surviving members of that scene for the book. I'm also going to be doing research throughout the rest of Eastern Europe. What I will do with that info depends on what I find. At a bear minimum I'd like use that information to write columns or articles for punk zines to help educate Western punk audiences on the subject.
I read that you started writing first and then began to play music, which is more challenging writing or composing a song?
I guess I don't find composing songs a challenge because it's such an organic process. I can't remember ever sitting down and telling myself "time to write some music." It's just something that happens from time to time, which is why I don't follow a traditional rock 'n roll release schedule. It's almost like, a release valve or therapy for me. Writing is a much more deliberate gesture and because of that, I find it more of a challenge. With writing there are deadlines and it's important for me to connect with my audience so that they understand the information or message I am presenting to them. I wouldn't say the same about my music.
From the touring and traveling you’ve done through the States, Melbourne, Santiago de Chile and Russia any memorable characters or scenes that informed your outlook on music?
I had a really great time in Chile. That was a magical experience, not just for me, but for the friends I made there too, I believe. We inspired each other in many ways. I met so many smart and beautiful people down there and we were able to really, deeply bond. I spent a month in Chile, although I only played about ten shows. I spent a great deal of time just hanging out getting to know the people down there. It's a very complicated place. The people I met there have made great strides in trying to open things up for themselves and others. Many people I met there grew up with curfews and other restrictions under the dictatorship of Pinochet. Today they're skateboarding graffiti artists armed with guitars and San Pedro Cactii.
Is it fair to say your songs draw on personal experience and geography? If so, how have these things shaped your new material?
That's probably a pretty accurate assessment. Hard for me to put it into words though. Better that people check it out for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
What can we expect from your new album 'Shit In the Garden'?
Again, this is something I find difficult to put into words myself. I think fans of my music will enjoy the album, as I think it's probably the best thing I've done so far. I think it may also appeal to some that ‘Cleaning the Mirror’ did not as the album is much more lush and bright. I tried to expand my sonic palette on the new album. Unlike the last album and most of the singles, this album is much more of a collaborative work. The fidelity is also higher.
Do you prefer playing or recording?
I don't know that recording is ever really a "good time." It's usually a lot of hard work. It's ultimately more satisfying than playing, because I have a permanent record of the experience and I have much more control over the final product. Playing on the other hand is often very fun, depending on who is involved. I tend to be pretty critical of live performances though.
Some of your stuff reminds me of Ohio’s Tommy Jay and Ron House what do you think of this comparison?
I'm a fan of both of their work. Ron played my wedding last summer. Neither was an influence on Pink Reason. The Tommy Jay comparison makes more sense to my ears, but I think we're all pretty different from each other.
Danzig is said to have told an interviewer once that he was thinking of something so evil he couldn’t say it, what’s the most evil thought you’ve had?
Oof. I don't know I want to go there. I've experienced a great deal of trauma in my life and struggle with some pretty wicked demons. I try not to let them out of their cages in public.
I've read that some of your influences are Wisconsin's The Sleds and Russia's Egor I Opizdanevshie, do you still listen to these older bands or are there any newer groups you’re interested in at the moment?
I still listen to those bands, but there are newer groups I enjoy as well. I've been really digging the Iceage album that just came out. Kitchen's Floor out of Australia and Yuppies out of Omaha are both younger bands that excite me. I have been somewhat disappointed with the underground in the US the past couple years or so. In Poland there is a band called Hercklekot that I'm very excited about. They've been around for a while now, but they're virtually unknown in the circles I run. They're brilliant and moving things to the future with a sound that's informed by anarcho-peace punk, breakcore/industrial and Eastern European folk traditions. Check 'em out online they have released two albums for free through DTrash and netlabel.
All the music I love has one thing in common, it makes me feel something and Pink Reason is no exception. Do you compose just for yourself or, is it an intention to affect the audience when you write a song?
I definitely make music for myself. I just figure that if I like it, others will as well.
Learning about your time in Russia where obtaining music seemed to be done through swapping tapes in parks and making recordings in kitchens, it makes me think about the digital age we’re in. Creating and sharing music is something we habitually engage in, internet or no-internet, what do you make of the digital era?
I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. It concerns me, to put it mildly. I find myself more and more often rejecting and trying to escape technology, which is difficult considering the projects I'm involved in.
Punk has gone through many metamorphoses I’ve always felt like as long as it keeps getting challenged and pushed further it will still exist. What do you think of the current state of Punk? What makes Punk these days?
I'm pretty excited about it still. It's a large part of who I am. It not without its’ problems, but what isn't? Shortly before leaving NYC I started hanging out with some younger crusty punk kids. I grew up in that scene myself but started feeling alienated from it a little over a decade ago. I started dropping too much acid and getting into too weird of music for some people I knew in that scene which was falling apart locally anyway. These kids I met though, they're like hyper-realized versions of myself back when I was part of that scene. One of the kids I met even has the same tattoos as me. They were telling me about bands I never heard of from both Siberia and Wisconsin and unlike many of the drunken traveler kids I've met over the past decade while drinking under bridges and shit, who would act like dicks because I no longer have a G-Anx patch on my ass or an Amebix logo on my jacket, these dudes welcomed me in to their lives with open arms. One of 'em said something to me that I've been thinking about a lot lately. He said "The thing I like most about punk is how fucking different everyone is." I can't think of many other social groups that pair together archetypes as wildly different as GG Allin and Ian Mackaye. The thing that unites all these diverse types is our individuality and our self-reliance. As long as there are defiantly individual people out there doing things for themselves, punk will flourish.
What’s the future for Pink Reason?
Hard to say. There is talk of another Australian tour. I've started working on a third album, one that I'd like to record in a studio with a full backing band. I'd love to do another full US tour, as it's been a few years since I've done anything like that. I'm also unsure about the longevity of the project at times. I'm recently married and my wife and I are trying to find a place in the country to start organic farming and live a more sustainable lifestyle. I'd like to focus more on writing in the future as well. It keeps getting more and more difficult to do Pink Reason. Prices on everything go up, but there is less out there to make and there is only me doing this, which means when I tour Europe for two and a half months straight, I have to do all the work on that on my own, I have to fund it on my own. Everything in this band is on my own. No booking agents. No tour support. No advances. No nothing. In the future I would love to have an actual band, one where everyone involved contributes and carries their weight. This shit is getting a bit heavy for me.
“I’m full of dust and guitars” - Syd Barrett, if you were cracked open what would be inside?
Garbage. There is a reason why I am not an organ donor.
Siltbreeze Records - where first album 'Clean the Mirror' and new album 'Shit in the Garden' will be available.
Check out WFMU session on Brian Turner's show Pink Reason plays some phenomenal Russian Records.
Pink Reason's Website
Pink Reason Facebook
Pink Reason Twitter