In August, Brit rockers The Big Pink played a massive set at the Formoz Festival that turned out to be one of the surprise hits of the weekend. Now they are back for a club show tomorrow at The Park, an MTV appearance and some work on a “Taiwan only” EP to be released on Hi-Note next year. When I caught the band’s frontman Robbie Furze last week on his cell phone en route to a London recording studio, he was gushing.
“We’ve toured the world three times, and the vibe is just so on. They’re the nicest group of people I’ve ever met,” said Furze, speaking of the Taiwanese audience. “I couldn’t believe how intense the crowd were and how loving they were.”
Furze, someone had joked to me, was even thinking about moving to Taiwan. “Maybe I got overexcited,” he replied, chuckling. “But it has just been so amazing for us. We got to Taiwan and realized there are places like Taiwan we know so little about, but where you have these amazing fans. At the festival, we were playing new songs and everyone was singing along. So now we are going to release some of those songs on a Taiwan-only EP sometime next year.”
Furze launched The Big Pink five years ago, but the band has been through a lot of changes. It began as a two-man shoegaze indie band, with Furze on guitar and vocals and Milo Cordell on electronics. They loved industrial rock and shoegaze pioneers like My Bloody Valentine, and within the first two years the duo scored a record deal, some minor hits and sold-out gigs at London venues like I.C.A. Earlier this year, Cordell left the band and moved to New York to work on his record label.
Now Furze is joined by two offbeat glam girls, who bring an electronic party edge and have remixed earlier rock hits into dance anthems. The women are drummer Vicky Jean Smith, whom Furze first saw playing with M.I.A, and DJ MPRSSS, aka Lady Mary Charteris.
Charteris is in fact Furze’s wife — they were married last December, and the wedding was featured in British Vogue. She is also the daughter of a British Lord — thus the title — and has made the British tabloids for all sorts of crass gossip, most recently when supermodel Kate Moss accused Charteris of flirting with her husband, guitarist Jamie Hince of The Kills.
“Being with these girls on tour traveling the world is amazing and a dream come true,” says Furze.
“Vicky has been with me for about two years now,” he continues. “Her feel is wild. I always feel like I’m on sage with Mitch Mitchell. Vicky is also a sick programmer and killer beat maker.
“MPRSSS is a crazy electronic genius. She makes this wild noise euro trash dance music. It’s pretty deep. The girls also have remixed Big Pink tunes that we play live to give a new angle on our set.”
What is it that Taiwanese fans love about this band? The answer is most of the above. An editor at the new Taiwanese music magazine, Bark, noted that The Big Pink fits a genre that Taipei kids love (shoegaze) and projects a cool image (spanning garage rock and high fashion). One rock club bartender said she loved the first album, A Brief History of Love, for its mix of heartbroken lyrics and upbeat tunes. (She also discovered the band with an ex-boyfriend she hasn’t given up on yet, and hopes to see him at this weekend’s show.) One girl even told me, “Their drummer is lesbian, and that is so cool!”