When I call Pinback's Rob Crow at his San Diego, Calif., home for our scheduled interview, I'm greeted by his voice mail. Moments later, Crow calls back. "I was on the other line," he says in a laid-back manner. "Can you call back in five minutes? I was having a crisis when you called. Hopefully, five minutes will finish it."
So, minutes later, I call back and ask if the crisis was averted? "No, crisis ignored by others," he says with a laugh. "There's nothing I can do." One minute later, Crow's line gets interrupted by call waiting. "Now, Zach's calling me ... Hold on." All assumptions are that it's Zach Smith, the other half of Pinback. He returns after a brief moment on hold and goes right back into the conversation.
Crow's laid back demeanor almost comes as a surprise. While he only tours for a few months a year, usually with Pinback, his performance schedule when he's at home is ramped up. And, when he's not performing, he's recording with any one of numerous bands he has his hands in. In fact, Crow is involved in so many projects, he isn't even sure of the exact number.
"I don't know how many, but a lot," he says. "Pinback, Optiganally Yours, Goblin Cock, Aspects of Physics, my solo stuff, Physics is getting back together, Other Men, Alpha Male ... that's all I can remember right now."
Crow says he enjoys the variety of all the different creative outlets because he simply can't do everything he wants with just one project. He says that if he did it all under a solo project or his own monicker, he'd "come out with really uneven albums." Because he works with so many different people on other projects, the sound on his solo albums has smoothed out.
"I don't have enough time to do all of them as much as I want," Crow says. "I've always got more in me than I can do." It's not a bad problem to have. He finds it odd that people have trouble writing new material, and claims he never suffers from writer's block. "Producer's block" is another situation though.
"If I get stuck on something, I can move on to something else," Crow says. "Producer's block -- I can't handle it. Now, I started my own label so I can do things myself if I ever hit a wall."
He says the only band he's been involved in that has "come to an end" is Thingy, and even that band has plans to release their final album whenever Crow gets around to finish mixing it.
The main focus for Crow through all of these projects has been Pinback. Formed by Crow and Smith in 1998, the band has released a quartet of albums -- though they don't come easily. Crow says he and Smith work on Pinback music for eight to 12 hours each day in order to get everything right. The band's latest album, Autumn of the Seraphs, was released in September of 2007.
"Pinback is the one that takes the most time and is definitely the most popular," he says. "It's the mothership. It's the thing that makes it so I can do everything else. People don't buy the other records I do very much. We'd be doing Pinback even if nobody bought the records."
Pinback's music is a collaborative dichotomy -- with two members of the band each wanting to take the music in a different direction, the end result is an array of songs that have layered sounds and vocals overlapping. "We're both easily bored people," Crow says. "We have different tastes in everything, so every song is a wrestling match over what makes us both happy. Songs turn out to be a massive remix or nothing like the original idea. If you only play with like-minded people, you'd never have a case of 'I never thought of that.' That's what keeps it interesting."
Luckily, they record the band's albums at home to avoid incurring massive costs to make an album. The duo performs with a rotating cast of bandmates of approximately five or six people. While Pinback had some live drums recorded for its latest album, Crow seems certain there will never be more than two official members. As much as it takes to get one album done, there doesn't need to be any more cooks in the kitchen.
The only thing that tells the band that an album is finished is a deadline. Crow says he usually goes back and picks apart the way an album turns out, but he's happy with Seraphs.
"We want to sit there with it and stew over every little detail," Crow says. "It would be impossible to do in a studio and cost billions of dollars. Even when we get people to lay down drum tracks, we totally mess with them so they sound nothing like what was recorded. The live show is just trying to make it high energy and about having a good time."
For the foreseeable future, Crow plans to continue recording and writing with as many acts as he can, and hopes that people enjoy it for what it is, not because he's involved. "I like it when people don't know that I'm in any of the other bands," Crow says. "I hope they just come to them because they like the music. I never think of anything as having an end. I'll just keep doing it until the wheels come off."
Pinback will perform at Neighborhood Theatre on Sept. 25. Kylesa is supporting. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 on the day of the show.