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Life in Sci-Fi: Talking Star Wars with Pinback 

Like to rock, don't like talkRob Crow is in a band, but doesn't seem all that jazzed to be talking about his music. He's polite

click to enlarge Like to rock, don't like talk
  • Like to rock, don't like talk
Like to rock, don't like talkRob Crow is in a band, but doesn't seem all that jazzed to be talking about his music. He's polite and seems to appreciate that we're writing about him, but not all that enthused to discuss his much-revered new record. But when I bring up Star Wars ... there's a little extra spark in his voice.

The men of Pinback obsess over science fiction to the point that Crow says he should get a tax break for his devotion to the genre. At times, it's hard to tell whether Crow, the band's multi-instrumentalist, is a musician that's into sci-fi movies, comics, and video games, or if he's maybe a sci-fi nut who just happens to be a damn good musician.


"I saw Star Wars the day it came out and was ruined from then on. There was a time when we would put it on every day," Crow says.

The band isn't hanging with Luke and R2D2 on a daily basis these days. Now, Crow says he and the other half of Pinback, Armistead Burwell Smith IV (more simply known as "Zach") spend their time clicking the controls of the popular (and slightly nerdy) "War Craft" video game. Crow would like to break out of sci-fi fandom and create comics (although he admits he can't draw) or maybe write a screenplay, but for now he says he's too much of a perfectionist to show off much of his work.

This perfectionism might be reason for the acclaim directed toward the band's latest record, Autumn of the Seraphs, and its 2004 predecessor, Summer in Abbadon. Pinback's tunes are meticulously well-crafted with the perfect guitar riff dancing toe-to-toe with a compromising drum chop and keyboard inserts filling lonely gaps. In a way, it's music for the thinking listener - the ones that hold their headphones tight to their ears and appreciate precision and detail. Some might find the band's songs hard to differentiate, but that same quality might be what keeps other hardcore fans holding so tightly to the band.

"I always wanted to make it challenging enough so that people would have to try to like it. I guess I've always preferred it to be secretly complicated," Crow says.

Some have called Autumn of the Seraphs "pop" or "indie pop" likely because of the catchy hooks that float to the surface - most noticeably on the radio-friendly "Good to Sea," without attention to the fact that Pinback is pretty dark both lyrically and musically, which could easily be that sci-fi influence at work. It's a strange blend, but it's been catching on since Crow and Smith formed the band as a side project. For this tour, the guys will be joined by three other musicians to replicate every sound heard on Autumn, a record that's had a level of success that's somewhat baffling to Crow.

"I'm not really sure how to feel about it. I'm surprised that anyone likes it in the first place," he says.

Apparently, he didn't quite buy into Yoda's "believe in yourself" theme.

Pinback, MC Chris

8pm doors, 9pm show. Wednesday, Feb. 13. Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. 388-1106. $16/advanced, $18/door.

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