The album title says it all: You're Doomed. Be Nice. In fact, it's hard to think of a more appropriate, career-encapsulating mantra when it comes to Rob Crow. In a career that's well into its third decade, the singer-songwriter and Pinback frontman (not to mention countless other local bands) has developed a reputation for mixing self-depreciating lyrics with, well, just about every conceivable music genre there is.
You're Doomed. Be Nice came out on March 4, almost a year to the day that Crow posted a very concerning message on Facebook saying that "making music in this climate is financially irresponsible" which led to speculation that he was quitting music altogether. He didn't, but he did quit a lot of other things. We sat down with him recently to talk about the last year and his new band, Rob Crow's Gloomy Place, and while his outlook on life is a lot more positive, he says some things will never change.
CityBeat: It's been over a year since you wrote that Facebook post. Take us back to the moment when you posted that.
Rob Crow: I was just confused. I mean, I'm still confused, but not as much today. Today I feel really good about things in general. I needed to quit being in situations that were unhealthy for me. I quit drinking. I quit drinking caffeine and sugar, and I started working out every day. I hate exercise, but I do it everyday now.
CB: What made you decide to cut out all of these negative things at once?
RC: It was really tough, but it's not the worst thing any human's had to go through. All I did was stop being an asshole. [laughs]
CB: Yeah, but it had to be a bit of a shock to your system.
RC: I don't know, because I was drinking a bottle of Jameson every two days and three bottles of wine a day so that can be pretty shocking to your system too. I was basically self-medicating. I also realized that I needed to stop creating things the way I had grown accustomed to. I was spending so much of my time creating things that nobody really wanted to hear, and I was running out of money. Pinback has always been the one project that ever really made any money, and I was using all that money to make all these side-projects that I rarely made any money back on. So when Zach [Smith, Crow's bandmate in Pinback] was losing interest in doing Pinback stuff, then that and the other work started to suffer, and I never wanted to get to a point with that band where we did a bad thing. I never wanted to make a bad record, but I feel like if we had kept going and hadn't changed then we would have made a bad one...And if it's just me, that's fine. I'll just continue to be me and put out records, but I have a family and my family means everything to me so that's why I just couldn't keep doing the same thing. Nothing can get in the way of me wanting to make sure that they're safe and stable.
CB: Did these changes reinvigorate your creative spirit as well?
RC: Not yet, because a lot of my neuroses are what drive me to do stuff. There is a fear that if I start to feel better then I won't be able to write, but I'm beginning to think that's not the case.
CB: You recently said that music was the only thing you failed to quit. Do you think there would ever come a time where you would quit?
RC: Oh, definitely! If this outing fails, I won't have a choice. I just won't announce it this time. It's as simple as this: If people buy the record, then I can make more. If they come out to the shows, then I'll be able to play more.
CB: What about the new band name, Rob Crow's Gloomy Place? Is meant to be tongue-in-cheek or more sincere?
RC: Since I first started writing, there's been a lot of references to Winnie the Pooh. Sometimes I feel like a Christopher Robin and sometimes I feel like a Piglet or an Eeyore. Gloomy Place is where Eeyore lives in the Hundred Acre Wood so that's what that's referencing.
CB: The album title itself is also kind of interesting. This fatalism mixed with optimism, or are we reading too much into that?
RC: That's probably dead on and that's really how I feel. It's meant to be nice. It's the most raw, honest thing that I can say.
CB: The album just came out, but you always have other projects going. What's next?
RC: I have a bunch of albums sitting on my hard drive. I just have to talk someone into putting them out. The last Thingy album is all done and there's also two Goblin Cock albums which are by far the best ones yet. There's the new Optiganally Yours album. I'm also writing and practicing with Nick [Reinhart] from Tera Melos and Gabe [Serbian] from The Locust. That's some really fucked-up stuff. It'll be the most fucked-up thing I've ever done.