An interview with Pinsky

Last week I was in a little bit of a slump.  It had been a while since I had found any new music that was any good.  Then this band (Washington Square Park, check them out) started following me on Twitter.  As I was looking over their tour dates, I saw that they were playing a bunch of shows in April/May with this band, Pinsky.  Upon first listen, I was reminded of everything I loved about playing and writing music.  Jangly, melodic guitars and big, shout-out-loud choruses that get stuck in the back of your head.

I promptly bought both their releases for sale on their website (go here) and spent the remainder of the week listening to them constantly while at work (sorry to all my coworkers that I may have annoyed).  Coincidentally, Thursday night the band was playing a show in Brooklyn (the same night we got a foot of snow in NYC) and my friend Blake and I braved the weather to see them.  It was totally worth it.

You need to listen to this band.  You need to go see them play.

The guys in the band were nice enough to participate in a little interview.  Thanks again to Pinsky for making music worth getting excited about.

So give me a quick intro on the band – who plays what? and how old are you guys?  How long have you been playing together?

Pete:  Pinsky consists of Pete Vachon (25) – vocals & guitar, Jeff Roberts (26) – vocals & guitar, Andre Tranchemontagne (26) – drums and Mike Graton (25) – bass & backing vocals.  Jeff, Andre and myself have been playing together since the fall of 2007.  Mike just recently joined the band in December.

What’s the music scene like in Portland, Maine?  You guys are pretty far-removed from major cities.  Does that make it harder to find an audience?

Jeff: The music scene in Portland is extremely diverse. You can hear a bluegrass band at one venue then head two blocks down and hear a grind-core band. We’ve been lucky to have really close friends and fans that live in the New England / East Coast area who have been nothing but amazing and supportive when it comes to us playing out.  The crowds and shows are definitely mixed but we still manage to gain new friends/fans at every show.

Andre: Like Jeff said, the music scene is extremely diverse.  However, the support system is awesome. When someone has your back here, they’ll have your back to the end.

When you meet someone that hasn’t seen you play or heard your music – how do you describe what Pinsky sounds like to them?

Pete: This is always a tough one to answer.  If people ever ask what our music sounds like, I simply say ‘rock’. I feel that a lot of people these days try so hard to classify music – I never want to pigeonhole our sound! I’m always open to different genres that people think we sound like.

Jeff: It’s hard classifying your own stuff.  I’ll usually go with something along the lines of ‘energetic/dynamic/melodic/rock’.  One could say ’emo’, but that usually has an undesired effect and creates more confusion than anything else.  The quickest way to find out is to listen for yourself.

The name Pinsky – does it come from the poet, the celebrity doctor or other?

Jeff: We actually got the name from the character ‘Ronnie Pinsky’ from the 90’s television series “Salute Your Shorts”.  We all grew up watching Nickelodeon and thought it would be appropriate, seeing as how none of us actually act our age.  I’m pretty sure Jeff Roberts “Age 11” and Jeff Roberts “Age 26” would get along swimmingly if they could hang out.  It’d be nothing but Ellio’s pizza and Batman: The Animated Series.

You guys write some pretty complicated chord progressions and riffs (in unexpected time signatures sometimes).  What’s the writing process like for you guys?

Pete: All the songs pretty much stem from demo’s I write. I’ll try and demo a song (whether it be 30 seconds or 3 minutes) to really nail down a feeling and concept for the track. We then bring it into the practice setting where we jam on the parts, move things around, cut parts etc. Once we start recording the track, it’s easy to sit back and objectively listen to the song to see what it needs.

What kind of gear do you guys use?  Any essential piece you couldn’t live without?

Jeff: Epiphone Elitist Les Paul Custom through a Peavey Classic 50 with a Marshall 1960 cab. Pedals: Boss Tuner and Noise Gate, BBE Green Screamer, Sonic Stomp and a Line 6 DL4.  The Sonic Stomp is my unsung hero.

Pete: Fender Telecaster Deluxe and Gibson Les Paul Studio through a Fender Hot Rod Deville 2×12 with a Marshall 1960 cab.  Pedals: same as Jeff plus a BBE Fuzz pedal, just to up the ante a little.

Mike: Fender P-Bass through a Carvin R-1000 head and Ampeg 8×10 cab.  Pedals: Boss Tuner, Sansamp, and BBE Sonic Stomp.

Andre: Gretsch Catalina kit, A Custom and Avedis Zildjian Cymbals, DW 5000 Double Bass Pedal, DW Hardware, Evans G2 Coated Heads, and Vic Firth 3A Sticks.

It looks like you guys do all your own recordings in your own studio – and you just put out a brand new two-track bundle on your website.  Describe the thought process behind that as opposed to cranking out another EP or full-length.

Jeff: Having the ability to do our own recording has been great. The two latest tracks we recently released were actually recorded at the Getaway Group in Wakefield, MA by Jay Maas.  We’ve definitely had the itch to get more material out for a while now.  We released our first EP almost two years ago so it’s definitely been looming over our heads that we should be getting new stuff out.  The two new songs are ones we felt very strongly about and wanted people to hear as soon as possible.  Releasing it solely as a digital download took the burden of production/duplication costs out of the equation so we could focus our money toward new merch and ultimately a van.  We’re planning on heading back into our own studio for the next EP which will hopefully be out by this summer.

What’s 2010 looking like?

Pete: Besides the new EP, we’ll be trying to play as many shows as possibly around the Northeast.  We’re hitting the road in late-May with Late Nite Wars and Washington Square Park for a short 2-week stint to the Midwest and back.  Who knows what the rest of the year will bring?  We just can’t wait for ‘Lost’ to end.  A tear will most definitely be shed.

Andre: It’s not for a ways out, but seeing what happens in Dexter. Plus we all want to start skateboarding again.

Now go listen!!!

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