ARIEL PINK

BEAUTIFUL MESS

Ariel Pink is a fuck­ing mess. A beau­ti­ful one, but a mess all the same. That’s part of his appeal. Over the course of his 12-year career, Pink’s pecu­liar­ity and eccen­tric incli­na­tions have always demanded cen­tre stage. This, as you can imagine, means he’s an absolute head fuck to inter­view. He con­tra­dicts him­self at every cor­ner, he uses metaphors that make no sense, he goes off on point­less tan­gents and he laughs with a dry cackle when detail­ing his own mor­tal­ity. “It’s not ille­gal to be an ass­hole,” he told Pitch­fork in Sep­tem­ber. True. Even if it was, you doubt that Pink would adhere to the rule. He doesn’t want to be inter­viewed, but he’s con­trac­tu­ally obliged to pro­mote his album. He’s try­ing to catch me off-guard. It’s working.

“I didn’t have to deal with the pub­lic, the press, stuff like that, it was nice,” he laughs when reflect­ing on the ear­lier stages of 2014. “I spent most of it record­ing and play­ing music. They’re all very pleas­ant mem­o­ries. I was off in my own world. It felt nor­mal.” The result of this time spent record­ing is pom pom, Pink’s lat­est opus, fol­low­ing 2012’s Mature Themes. While it may be Pink’s first full stu­dio album released under his own solo moniker with­out his band The Haunted Graf­fiti, the record is his most col­lab­o­ra­tive to date, fea­tur­ing joint ven­tures with the likes of the leg­endary Kim Fow­ley, Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce and LA punks The Germs.

“I recorded the album over about nine months with var­i­ous play­ers and in var­i­ous loca­tions over var­i­ous times,” he details. “It was always very casual and in non-committal cir­cum­stances. The cast became so large. I made sure that I worked with impunity so that I could play with as many peo­ple that I wanted. I wanted it to be like I was land­ing a ship some­where and I was the leader. Call me the biggest slut on the planet. It was very nat­ural for me to be in this frame of mind, to be so promis­cu­ous with my talent.”

Clock­ing in at a behe­moth 17 tracks over 68 min­utes, pom pom is a melt­ing pot of obscu­rity. Rang­ing from beat-driven pop (Put Your Num­ber In My Phone, Dayzed Inn Day­dreams), dirty punk (Goth Bomb, Neg­a­tiv Ed) and gob­blede­gook surf (Nude Beach A Go-Go – a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Azealia Banks), the record is the per­fect embod­i­ment of Pink’s mantra of eclecticism.

“I really wanted to go out with a bang and utilise the resources at my dis­posal,” he notes, refer­ring to the fact that pom pom con­cludes his cur­rent three-album con­tract he holds with revered inde­pen­dent Eng­lish label 4AD. “I felt like they were squan­dered on the last record.

“The record label would have liked the album to be as short as it could be so that they could max­imise prof­its from as few tracks as pos­si­ble,” he laughs. “That’s why albums gen­er­ally only have about ten songs, five songs a side. iTunes won’t pay for any extra tracks beyond that. For the label, the last seven tracks on the record is akin to their money being spent on noth­ing. That’s fine with me. I’m glad they’re throw­ing their money into a rab­bit hole like me. I’m happy for them to spend their money on some­thing that’s as use­less and arbi­trary as my music.”

If there’s one thing that his label is happy about though, it’s the fact that Pink has spent the major­ity of the year in the lime­light, for bet­ter or worse. He made a claim that Madonna requested to work with him as her career had been on “a down­ward slide” since 1983 (a claim which her man­age­ment refuted as she has “no inter­est in work­ing with mer­maids”), he’s also voiced his ado­ra­tion of the loath­some West­boro Bap­tist Church and he’s com­pared the online back­lash towards his own misog­y­nis­tic com­ments to the 1994 Rwan­dan geno­cide – him­self in the role of Tutsi. He’s the biggest troll in the music indus­try. He’s trolling us. We hope he is.

“I’ve also been gen­er­at­ing a bit of press over myself, the record label is very happy about that,” he laughs. “They own the record. It’s not like I’m doing any of this for myself.

“It’s a really strange thing that some peo­ple, some long-time fans, might be believ­ing that I’m pan­der­ing to the indus­try. That I’ve sold out, or that I’m try­ing to do things dif­fer­ently to how I’ve done them before, or that I’m try­ing to seek a larger audi­ence. All of that stuff might be true. I’m doing things how they come most nat­u­rally to me and that’s more the point.”

Next month will see Pink return to Aus­tralian shores for the first time since 2012. “It’s cer­tainly not going to be a cir­cus show, or any­thing like a set with high-production bud­gets or an extrav­a­ganza like that,” he notes. “It’s gonna be some peo­ple play­ing some music, hope­fully with some good lights, I don’t know. The peo­ple who are play­ing on the record are by and large going to be accom­pa­ny­ing me on the tour. If you’re com­ing, expect­ing psy­che­delic visu­als, like snakes com­ing out of our gui­tars, you’ll prob­a­bly be dis­ap­pointed. But if you close your eyes I’m cer­tain that you’ll be able to enjoy the record in a whole new way.”
 

TOUR DATES

Janu­rary 24 — Sugar Moun­tain Fes­ti­val, Mel­bourne, VIC
Jan­u­ary 25 — The Bright­side, Bris­bane, QLD
Jan­u­ary 27 — Oxford Arts Fac­tory, Syd­ney, NSW
Jan­u­ary 29 — The Bak­ery, Perth, WA

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