NO COMPLAINTS "We realized that life is wonderful and incredible, and there's nothing to be angry or upset about," says Robbie Furze (right, with Milo Cordell).
Rock music is an art of extremes. It's loud, brash, and tied up in a whole mess of human emotions that, when properly amped into excitement or aggression, blur together into the swirling, distorted composite we know and love. The rock career of UK upstarts the Big Pink has been one of finding, at the intersection of sheer bloody noise and haunting melodies, the commonality of hate and love.
"When you're younger, you are filled with this sort of angst or hate, and you are always fighting against something," explains singer/multi-instrumentalist Robbie Furze, who together with fellow noise enthusiast Milo Cordell formed the band as a studio project in 2007, after the two began to tire of their time in the trenches of the digital-noise scene. The Big Pink's debut, A Brief History of Love (4AD), offers only hints of the duo's static-filled past, mostly in the attacks of high-register guitar that threaten to overtake "Too Young To Love" and "Velvet." "Me and Milo got to a point where we realized that life is wonderful and incredible, and there's nothing to be angry or upset about — it's just incredible with its ups and downs."
If the band are on an upswing now — attempting to parlay swift UK success into stateside recognition with a US tour (their first) that brings them to the Paradise this Tuesday — their pre–Big Pink careers were consumed with drawing thrills out of negativity. Furze's experiments in noise led to his association with Alec Empire's Digital Hardcore Recordings label (best-known stateside for Empire's ridiculously nega-sonic Atari Teenage Riot). Furze played guitar with Empire and then teamed with Cordell to form the record label Hate Channel.
"Milo and I, back then, we wanted to be harder than Digital Hardcore. We had a mutual interest in going to parties and raves, these insane things at warehouses and abandoned buildings. When I put out a record on DHR, I toured for, like, three years, but it involved playing squats, things like that. All that stuff I was doing at that time, it was very aggressive and distorted — and there just weren't any subtleties."
Although Furze recalls his first discussion about playing with Cordell as a desire to "make some noise together," the truth is that the two of them were looking to break out of the limitations of noise. The result of their partnership is a stack of tunes that mix brash melodies and huge swelling guitars. "The nice thing about the Big Pink is that we can do anything. And that's a really lovely feeling."
The Big Pink's indulgence in droning guitars has gotten them lumped in as part of the recent shoegaze revival, but one listen to any track off A Brief History of Love reveals how wayward that pigeonhole is. Far from staring at their shoes, burying their rhythms, and drowning out their vocals, they give us loud, upfront vocals enhanced by rich dynamics and full of unabashed expressions of love.
"That's the soul influence," says Furze. "Soul musicians, when they want to say something, they just say it. They don't try and tie it up in a cryptic message or overdramatic poetry. When soul music wants to say 'I love you,' it says, 'I love you.' Shoegaze, to me, is a sort of whimsical and fey thing — and we're far too aggressive for that!"
THE BIG PINK + CRYSTAL ANTLERS | Paradise, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | December 1 at 8 pm | $13 | 18+ | 617.562.8800 or www.thedise.com