Hype can be a double-edged sword, especially when you're Britain's newest music darlings. The fans and press love you—obsess over you—until they move on to the next new thing.
London's The Big Pink has generated enough hype to sink the whole island. In February, the electro-rock duo won NME's Philip Hall Radar Award, a prestigious nod for the year's most promising new act. Bloggers buzzed and bigger shows were booked. All this and The Big Pink hadn't even issued their first single.
The sword seemed poised to swing back—until the band lived up to the hype with a smashing September debut titled A Brief History of Love. The album swirls and swells around mind-sticking hooks, inventive beats and enough feedback and fuzz to drown out any ill-informed haters.
Guitarist / vocalist Robbie Furze sounds a bit fuzzy himself, calling from a tour bus headed to a ferry that will take The Big Pink to Paris, where they're playing a music magazine party. Furze and bandmate Milo Cordell—son of the late Denny Cordell, who produced The Moody Blues and Joe Cocker—just wrapped up their opening set for Muse.
“We played to 18,000 people tonight and 12,000 last night,” Furze says with genuine awe. “I looked out yesterday at really how many people were there, and it was crazy.”
Not quite as crazy as the house parties the band was rumored to throw in London, one of the storylines journalists sank their teeth into before they could lend their ears to actual music.
“Now the album has become more interesting than us,” Furze laughs.
Not quite. He and Cordell met “at illegal raves back in early 2000s”—though Furze says they were there for the music. (Cordell also runs Merok Records, a tiny noise-rock label.) The good friends, youthful and swaggering in their leather jackets and nighttime sunglasses, seem like prime paparazzi material.
“Oh, I would hate that,” Furze says. “You don't have to be openly public about the way you conduct yourselves.”
Speaking of which, Furze would like to clear up one silly rumor: Despite choruses like “these girls fall like dominoes,” The Big Pink are not misogynists.
“We're not at all,” he protests. “Someone wrote that about the song ‘Dominoes,' which is kind of lazy journalism. If you listen to the lyrics, it's actually more of a comment on how pathetic men can be and about being a cold-hearted, weak, scared human being. It's not about conquest. It's a sad story, really, not being able to commit to a relationship, or to your love for someone.”
The album does mention girls a lot—and the corresponding heartbreak—but Furze says it's not just about romance.
“It's about loving everything in life,” he explains. “We're both at the point where you just have to accept life's ups and downs, and the pain, the passion, the sadness and the happiness. That gives you a sense of love's euphoric state because you find love in everything. That's the rich tapestry the world's made out of. The message is about love—but every aspect of love.”
Love was the emotion The Big Pink fittingly tapped into when they were asked to cover The Cure's “Lovesong” for a compilation.
“[Robert Smith] wrote it for his wife as a birthday present. What we felt at the time, though, was kind of a lonely sensation, when you're away from a person, and you can't deal with that idea of being away from them, either physically or emotionally. It struck me as a sad song, so that's how we did it, a somber ballad.”
But don't expect The Big Pink to go all sad-bastard on you. “We want to get into different guitar sounds, and beats, and structures—hip-hop, getting into things like the kick-drum sound on Wu-Tang Forever, and that kind of detail. We're quite nerdy when it comes to beats.”
They're also quite excited about their first tour stateside.
“In England, it's very led by press and NME. NME love us, and they're very supportive to us, but they're very swayed by charts. In America, if you rock and you're a really good band, Americans will get by you. You don't have to be on the cover of rock magazines. I've got a really good vibe about it.”
The Big Pink play with Crystal Antlers and io echo on Saturday, Nov. 20, at The Casbah. www.myspace.com/musicfromthebigpink.