Ariel Pink sat down on the couch (literal and proverbial) to discuss his new record Mature Themes (out August 20th on 4AD) and life’s big questions, proving himself to be a great conversationalist made even more talkative after an interview with High Times, which preceded ours. Stream the entire album and go deep with Pink below.
You’ve been quoted as saying Mature Themes was really an album that you had in your mind before your last album Before Today. That’s kind of a misunderstanding. It’s overstating the case. All I meant was I had a hard time with the last record, and this one is not saying much. There is a lot of bullshit that I would rather not revisit every time I have a fucking interview. I guess it’s a juicy tidbit, ‘Oh let’s investigate further’ ‘Why is he being so vague?’ What’s so weird to me is how the press machine works. When people are researching they need to get caught up on their subject, so they research the stuff that has been revealed and has somehow lasted—just in terms of content from many different sources—a certain quote from here and there, or whatever. Then the actual content of me becomes so limited and condensed, turned into a Wikipedia page essentially, which is the sum total of my life. It is the sum total of my existence, it is my obituary. It’s like, ‘When is he gonna die now?’ ‘What has he done?’ ‘Oh, he’s done stuff’ I guess I have a job, that’s my resume right there.
Do you interact with your Wikipedia page? I tried to intervene very early on and my moderator said ‘I think you should check your sources,’ and I was like ‘You’re right. You’re right. Who knows about Ariel Pink more than you do? You’re right, you’re absolutely right. I’m going to sit back and watch this thing.’ So I know exactly what people know and what people don’t know. I’ve had total control about the secrecy of my life, and I haven’t ever had a manager that’s like stepped in and created a biography. It’s literally like a legend made by sources, other sources, not mine. And I don’t interact with it at all, and I don’t interact with my friends on Facebook except when I want to have sex with them, you know?
What is your relationship to pop culture? Do you hate it? I have no idea what pop culture is. I mean I live in LA. I’m as star struck as anybody. Now I know Terry Richardson, Oooh, well he’s a famous person. I grew up in Beverly Hills, famous people everywhere. But I managed not to know. Must be hardwired to avoid those people. It must have been some dysfunctional affectation or something like that, a rebellion that I had. And I think I started making music for the totally wrong reasons, as a way to escape and get my revenge at my parents. I don’t advocate it; I’m over it now. But I’m in arrested development, like a teenager that’s been allowed to be a teenager for way too long, and I’m 34. I thought I was huge when I was competing with Devendra Banhart in 2004 for the ‘Hottest Fucking Nobody,’ you know what I’m saying? I thought that was as famous as I ever needed to get. Fifteen minutes come and go, then I was like, Let’s try to get a record deal this time.
Is music still a release for you? I think it is. I think I underestimated its true potency in my life for a little while. I managed to keep the blinders on. I fell in love and stuff like that. Then for the past year and a half I’ve been a fucking basketcase…after eight years of being with her [Pink’s ex girlfriend]. All of a sudden, I’m getting my mojo back a little bit. I was just happy to be asleep in that feeling that I was in love with somebody, and to have it amount to nothing kind of brings me right back to where I was before that, which is bitter as fuck.
Are you romantic? No, I’m the least romantic person on the planet. I am all about longevity and stability and loyalty. I’m old fashioned.
I’m married. Well, congratulations, I hope it lasts. Just don’t get a divorce. I’m not into divorce. I got married. I got married before this last relationship. I got married to somebody. It’s one of my biggest regrets.
Getting married? Well getting married to somebody I didn’t really have the intention of being with forever, right?
Did you not? I didn’t. My parents have been divorced since I was two years old. I’ve never seen a functional relationship last. To me it’s planned obsolescence. Just to get married, when you can get a divorce. Why not get married? Get married as many times as you want? It doesn’t matter. I just don’t like the institutions. I have a chip on my shoulder about lots of things. Authority and stuff like that. It sucks. It’s bullshit. Everything…The world is evil. That’s the line that I take. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.