Escape to Pinkerland

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Barcelona may be known for its prime location on el Mediterráneo, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, and the backdrop of the new Woody Allen movie, but it’s also the home of the sunglass-wearing, globe-trotting electro-duo The Pinker Tones. However, after the wild success of their last album, The Million Colour Revolution (Nacional Records), from Japan to Argentina and beyond, Professor Manso and Mister Furia (they prefer to remain anonymous to keep the mystique) don’t have much time to be home.

This summer, the local heroes landed a 43-show stint at the Van’s Warped Tour, and recently released a new album, Wild Animals, also on Nacional Records. We called up Mister Furia to talk about the album, which he describes as an energetic reflection of their recent world travels (which you can follow in detail, through diary entry, flickr albums and videos on their blog .)  “The Million Colour Revolution was a recreation of an imaginary world, some kind of utopia” he says, “Wild Animals is more of a description of the world as we see it, all the influences that are related to traveling and meeting new people and talking all kinds of languages and trying to communicate to a funky cab driver in Shanghai.” Mister Furia was so excited to talk about their new baby, that we even asked him to break it down, track by track, while we squeezed some other questions we’ve been dying to ask:

Remezcla: Track 01: “Hold On” talks about holding on to your dreams – was this inspired by your success?

Mister Furia: “Hold On” is actually a little haiku. “Hold on to your dreams” reflects [a] state of mind…it was a mantra, talking to ourselves in the end.

RE: DJ Niño is known as “the third Pinkertone” – how did he get involved in the group and is he actually part of the band?

MF: Well, it’s a bit like the question, “Is Mix Master Mike a member of the Beastie Boys?” The same would apply to DJ Niño. For starters, DJ Niño is my brother, so even before playing with us he already was doing remixes for us and he’s been very involved from the very beginning. So, even if Professor Manso and me are the ones who make the albums, DJ Niño will always be there. so, he’s a full-time collaborator, really.

RE: I’ve read that you are more famous in the United States and abroad than you are in your hometown of Barcelona – is this true or is it a rumor?

MF: I think that might have applied in a certain moment of time when The Million Colour Revolution was really having a very good moment in some part of the United States, Even though it wasn’t a global success, and in the rest of Spain we were not as popular, but in the area of Barcelona we’re huge, the local heroes – we’ve always had a very strong support from the Barcelona audience and we like to come back regularly, coming back and doing gigs.

RE:What is the Barcelona music scene like? Do you feel part of a scene at all, especially since you travel so much?

MF: It’s very eclectic because it reflects the spirit of the city as well. Barcelona has been a harbor town for centuries. Since ancient times it’s been a place where different cultures have melted …the logical evolution of that has reflected in the local scene. In the last 5 years a lot immigration from South America …a very strong scene of world music, there’s a not so big scene of electro music but the biggest thing now is the world music and there’s a mixture of that and a rumba disco scene which is very funny and interesting. The most known from this genre is called Muchachito Bombo Infierno – he’s great.

RE: Track 02: “S.E.X.Y.R.O.B.O.T.” is fun. With technology taking over are well all becoming sexy robots?

MF: It would seem that way, no? It’s a little bit of an homage to our techno-clad friend, the robot – not a fully-developed citizen but, probably, someday he will be.

RE: Track 03: “On Se Promenait” is written in French and in English. What was your inspiration for this song? How do you decide what language(s) to write in?

MF: Professor Manso wrote the whole story but it still needed a development for the chorus. I came up with the sentence which resumed the story – “following you in the sand I took you by the hand.” When we come up wit the riff, or an idea, or a seed for a song, at some point, it might be at the very beginning or at the very end, the song sort of reveals itself and says, “Well, I want to be in English, or I want to be in French” and we just follow the instructions.

RE: Track 04: “The Whistling Song” features Jimmy Lindsay from Cymande. How did you end up working with him?

MF: We had the first demo with us singing on it…but our own interpretation of the vocals did not satisfy us really. We thought it would be great to have one of those old time Jamaican voices on it, and we had to ask around, but a friend from London, who did one of the remixes on More Colours, was working with Jimmy Lindsay from Cymande.

RE: Sunglasses are your signature accessory – how many do you own? Have you ever broken them on stage from so much jumping?

MF: Tough question. Well, actually Professor Manso beats me on the sun glasses issue because he’s a real, real collector. I think he might be in the 40s, 50s, I’m probably own a dozen or 20. Well, actually we have changed the glasses now which was a tough decision because during the long tour of The Million Colour Revolution people really got to assimilate The Pinker Tones with the white glasses so we slightly changed the model because we needed something that was more matching with black and silver which were the colors we were working with. We’ve broken quite a few [glasses] but not as many as you could expect from the amount of shows we’ve played.

RE: Do you sing in your recordings? Have you considered singing live on stage?

MF:Depending on the format. We have a live format which is what we are going to do at Van’s Warped which is based on a DJ show. Then there’s the complete opposite which is the acoustic format where we play acoustic instruments. I play guitar, flute, harmonica…Professor Manso plays percussion and glockenspiel, DJ Niño on guitar, background vocals, Professor Mano vocals as well….so the album would be somewhere between those two shows.

RE: Track 05: “Electrotumbao” features Amparo from Amparanoia. How did you end up working with her?

MF: Amparo had come to a few of our shows and she really liked what we were doing…We didn’t like our vocals on “Electrotumbao,” we thought it needed a female voice and when she came up we asked and it was an absolute yes.

RE: Track 06: “Fugaz” is one of the only songs on the album that has vocals but no lyrics. What was your inspiration for this song?

MF: The song is one of the more electronic ones of the album. It’s not really a statement it was more of a need. It was a bit of playing around.

RE: Track 07: “24” has a cool beat and thought-provoking lyrics – where the lyrics based on life?

MF: We took “24” because it’s sort of the precise age where you’re in kind of a quarter [of your] life, you know? It’s a little bit of a reflection or our thoughts of what’s happening to young people [and] why is there such a lack of motivation in the world sometimes?

RE: Track 08: “Biorganised” Is one of your mellower songs on the album, but during the last minute it brightens up to a samba. What made you decide to mix genres?

MF: We want to have a bit of an instrumental, it’s a bit of a Bolero de Ravel by The Pinker Tones…something very subtle that went growing and finally went into this hard batucada beat with those two organs fighting each other. It’s like the right hand fighting the left. It’s a very lounge-y song.

RE: Track 09: “Happy Everywhere” is your first single – what made you choose that track?

MF: We very much liked the song and we also had a very good idea for a very simple but very interesting video clip, and we also had the right people to do it. So it all kind of came together and [we] thought it would also be very representative of the new presentation of the band. It’s also the first video where we appear in real image.

RE: Track 10: “Wilde Eleganz” is a song in German? – How many languages can you speak?

MF: I wouldn’t count the bit of Greek and Latin that we had in school, but a bit of Italian, French, German, Spanish, English, and Catalan. Although, I must say that Professor Manso’s French is a lot better than mine and my German is a lot better than his. So we balance out each other and we can also communicate with a lot of different people. There’s a self-imposed rule and it’s that I write a song in German and professor Manso writes in French.

RE: Track 11: “Working Bees” contains the title of your album, Wild Animals – Why that title?

MF: The hard work we’ve done through the years has brought us to a situation where we can allow ourselves to be Wild Animals which means to work in the way we like, in the time we like, with people we like…It’s absolute artistic freedom and control.

RE: Track 12: “Let Go” Is a relaxed, calm way to end your album – what was the inspiration for this song?

MF: We already had this fantastic introduction of “Hold On” and we thought, well we have to do something – we can’t just leave it there. We just wanted to say goodbye in a nice way.

RE: What’s next? Can you let us in on what you guys are up to once the Van’s Warped Tour ends?

MF: After the Warped Tour there’s a lot of interesting projects starting to show up for 2009. The rest of 2008 we’ll probably end touring Europe, we are helping a friend of ours finish his album [Pecker – on the same label], and we have a soundtrack for 2009 – 2009 will probably will be a much quieter year.

RE: When you hear the word “Cosmopolatino” what do you think it means?

MF: Cosmopolatino is a concept I hadn’t heard but I think it’s very interesting. It represents a whole sound and something we belong to. There’s more relation in between cities than in between countries…so cosmopolatino is probably the global expression of Latin-ism.