Though it’s 75 degrees outside, Ariel Pink has on a thick wool pea coat. A frail, hunched, unshowered looking man-boy, he’s nestled on one side of a gray sofa, and every time something gets him worked up — whether it’s investment banking firms or Jews — he punches the cushions as if they were responsible for the economic meltdown. When not abusing furniture, the alt-rock musician toys with his hair in a manic combination of frustration and complete boredom.
Newly signed to big time indie label 4AD, Pink’s first new album in years, Before Today, is expected this June. The crown prince of Pitchfork (“If I changed my underwear, Pitchfork would write about it”) has been dubbed an “indie-cult hero” by L.A. Weekly and the “Great Lo-Fi Hope” by Hipster Runoff, and though Pink does tell us some stuff about his music and career, he mostly rants about Goldman Sachs, history and how Jewish national pride is silly since “potatoes are our brothers.” Yes, in the world of Ariel Pink, these things, and more, are all connected.
Heeb: So you’re leaving behind the self-recording. How’s that going?
AP: It’s definitely a learning experience. Less the technical aspects than just the political aspects, of just dealing with many people: the band, engineers, producers, producers with the band — being able to do the whole thing without it falling apart because it’s all on me. I’ve become a diplomat of sorts, learning how to tell people what to do.
Heeb: You’re keeping the peace?
AP: Dude, I feel like I’m the guy from Goldman Sachs, man. Like I’m keeping my company together, and it hinges on me, and if I’m not happy, then the whole thing falls to shit.
Heeb: In past interviews you’ve sounded reluctant to get in a studio. What changed?
AP: I didn’t have a whiz kid. Now I’ve got like, ten and a little bit of cash for overhead.
Heeb: So engineers and cash are the magic ingredients?
AP: Yeah. That’s all I’ve been trying to do this entire time, getting signed. I’ve wanted to do this since the beginning and I thought there’d be heaps of labels lining up to fucking sign me. And there were, but the second that I brought up money they were just like, ‘Oh, we don’t have any. We’ve shot off budget.’ So I was just like, ‘Fuck you, just get out of my house, man. Are you kidding me? I’m not that cheap.’
Heeb: People are loving your shows since you got the live band. Was that because of the new label?
AP: When I was put onto Paw Tracks I was kind of just thrust into the world of live performing and actually having to like, make a living for myself doing music. And there’s no way of making money doing music unless I’m touring and I sell merchandise. At first, I saw live performing as a necessary evil, because I really didn’t care about it. I had to figure out a way to enjoy it and what that would entail was that I get a really good band and that I would learn to actually like, cultivate some sort of professionalism and a sense of commitment from band members . . . It’s taken me a long time to learn these things and it’s culminated with this record. I feel like it’s my first record, you know. Essentially, it is the first record that anybody has heard from me since what they’ve heard is always like, cassettes from a dark age in my history. So this is my, kind of, ‘Hello, you may have heard about me.”
Heeb: Speaking of the new album . . .
AP: No, I’m all business now. I have no interest in songs and stuff like that and politics. I don’t really give a shit about music. I really don’t. I think it’s child’s play. I just don’t care.