Pretty In Pink

Ariel Pink Gets Candid with The Link

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti will play with Os Mutantes next Tuesday.

Prettified with pink blush, lipstick, sexed-up hair and with his nipples peaking out from a deep v-lined sequined dress, Ariel Pink seduces the camera in his music video “For Kate I Wait,” a homage to Kate Bush.
This is Ariel Pink, take it or leave it. Either way, he doesn’t really give a shit.

“Did we already speak today?” Ariel Marcus Rosenberg (aka Ariel Pink) harps from the other end of the telephone line.

“No,” I respond.

“There are so many ladies calling me today, I can’t keep track.”

I ask Rosenberg how many interviews he had done that day and he told me he couldn’t even count them. “It’s the Ariel Pink hot line. I’ll just blab and blab and blab. I’ll jack you off, I’ll do whatever you want. Do you want to have phone sex? I’ll be whatever you want me to be.”

His spontaneous banter doesn’t subside.

“I’m getting sick of sitting on my butt in the front seat of the car. I’m literally just sitting here blabbing while the hours just fly by. I’m on the phone with people and that’s the way I’m doing it,” Rosenberg says about how he’s been spending his free time on the road.

His relief? “I’m getting cigarettes in between phone calls.”

Rosenberg has recorded over 500 songs on hundreds of cassette tapes since 1996. His earlier sound turned a slew of musicians on to a lo-fi sound (a term that he detests). Many of his earlier albums have been re-issued by Animal Collective’s music label Paw Tracks.

His newest album, Before Today, is the cleanest-sounding record he’s ever made. It is garnering attention from all corners of the world, sending him and his band to play shows in Australia and Japan.

I bring up a candid interview where Rosenberg called humanity stupid and tuned out from important issues. He harped back at me, “I was just talking. I don’t even pay attention, I just blab. People tend to ask me about things they read in other interviews as if they’re doing any kind of real journalistic research. You don’t read other interviews, you read the real sources. But everyone’s bringing up my interviews and I’m just blabbing.”

His angry tone diminished as he went on to say that he doesn’t want to be weighed down by what he says in interviews. “I’m just making it interesting for myself.”

Keeping things interesting seems to be what Rosenberg spends most of his time doing. Although he is “really grateful” for the opportunity to tour and make money, his live performance is “so boring” that he “can’t even talk about it.”
On the other hand, Rosenberg feels like his extraneous touring is a positive experience.

“It makes me feel like I am doing something good with my life and my practice; to be able to get up early and do a routine and get over the part of me that is so restless to go my way or the highway.

“Not like before, when I was wasting away in some $300 apartment, being by myself and doing everything by myself.”

Rosenberg is humbled by the attention his music is getting, but he’s a bit skeptical. “Music is playing the same role in people’s lives that it always has. It’s there. Always there. People cope with music, it makes them happy, makes them live their lives. And that’s it. And it’s only good for that.

“It’s all the sadder when there’s nothing good out. People like what they hear but that’s just evidence that their feelings are just so sad and of a lesser quality than they once were. Why would you settle for Deerhunter or WAAVES or bad Robert Smith covering the Crystal Castles?” Rosenberg says while laughing. “I mean, come on.”

Originally a solo artist making obscure music from his bedroom, Rosenberg is enjoying playing with a band. “I like being conditioned to be a team player. I like how working with a group makes me feel like we’re working towards something bigger than what we could individually do.”

“Working with a group makes me feel like we’re working towards something bigger than what we could individually do,”
—Ariel Pink, lead singer

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti are not thinking about the next album quite yet. “We’re not like the Grateful Dead, sitting around [on tour] with our shirts off playing acoustic guitars. Not at all.”

Instead, they are playing shows every night and partying late with locals. “We stay up late and we have fun with new people all the time and then we sleep and we start over again in the morning. As long as we get our fixes, then we’re feeling top-notch.”

When asked how they are making it through the long tour, Rosenberg replies “Zen mastery.” They also aren’t getting down on themselves if they play a shit show.

“If we mess up, there are so many future opportunities to make it up that its almost fundamental to screw up because it adds a little bit of variety to our lives.”

Rosenberg went on to say that having a bad show was like getting a little kick in the ass in order to kick ass when they need to for a bigger show.

“It’s fairly intuitive at this point. Everyone in the band has meltdowns at the same point, so it all goes like clockwork. And we don’t hate each other, I mean, I don’t hate them.”

Before the interview ends, I ask Rosenberg what his parents think of his music. “They say that they like it, but I think they just like that other people like it.”

Rosenberg hasn’t called his family during the tour so he said that they keep in contact with him through reading his interviews.

“My sister, she knows more about me than I do.”

This question prompts Rosenberg to remember to give a shout out to his mom. “Love you mom!” he piped into the phone.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti play with Os Mutantes on Nov. 16 at Le National (1220 Ste. Catherines St.).

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 13, published November 9, 2010.