Rob Crow Is a Stay-at-Home Heavy Metal Machine
Rob Crow of Pinback and Goblin Cock has probably written and recorded more records than you own. With Pinback, he's put out some of indie rock's most lauded records with Summer In Abaddon and Autumn of the Seraphs, and has been a part of other important records, like Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime and Team Sleep's self-titled record. In his 20-plus-year career, he's proven to be an eternal wealth of creativity and kickass music.
This month, he's released a new record, the perfectly titled Necronomidonkeykongimicon, the first new Goblin Cock record in eight years. It's what you'd want after the project has been M.I.A.: loud and pitch-perfect stoner-doom that you can bum out your neighbors with. As with previous records, the silliness of the album name and project doesn't equate to silly songwriting. The riffing in tracks like "Something Haunted" stack up against any of the band's genre peers, "The Undeer" blending Crow's punky past with doom and chugs on the turn of a coin.
We talked to Rob about his career, Star Wars and the Shaggs.
So, you’ve got a Goblin Cock record coming. What made you return and release a record as this project after eight years?
I never stopped working on it when I had ideas for things. I’m always kind of working on it, and there’s two records of it coming. It’s something I always kind of mess around with. If I want to do some busy work, I’ll do some covers. There’s a huge backlog of just dumb covers on my computer.
What’s the dumbest thing?
All sorts of things. [Laughs]
I listened a lot to “Island Island.” The off-kilter timing: I remember reading interviews with you, and one of the bands you talked about was the Shaggs. Do you remember when you first listened to the Shaggs?
Oh, definitely. I was in a record store, and I was the only one in it. It was a record store by the apartment I used to live in, so I’d spend a lot of time in there because I was always between jobs or something like that, so I was bumming around, looking for stuff. The guy just started blasting it, and it was instantly one of my favorite things ever. And still is, obviously, to this day. It’s such a magical record. It holds inherent supernatural properties, or something like that. If I was to ever to think of believing in something unworldly, I would use the Shaggs’ album as some sort of proof. [Laughs]
It’s cool that they’re putting out music now. I really liked that record from Dot last year from Alternative Tentacles.
Yeah, it’s wonderful. It’s really great.
I think there was a comp in the '80s that had some other studio stuff that came out after the dad died, too.
Yeah, the CD with both records and some extra stuff. In fact, I think they unearthed some new stuff recently. They put out a 7" for Record Store Day, but I can’t find one yet, I don’t have enough money to really find one on the internet. I don’t have any disposable income.
Are you in a better spot than you were a year ago?
Yeah, I’m definitely in a better spot than I was then. In every way kind of: mentally, physically, financially. I’m not killing it or anything financially, but we’re keeping it afloat. My wife is working full-time, and I got the kids.
How old are the kids now?
4, 8 and 10.
Rad. This is kind of random, but obviously, you like a lot of different kinds of media. How do you sort of decide what to introduce to your kids?
Hmmm ... I don’t know. I kind of don’t just show them things. I listen to what I normally listen to most of the time, and if they express an interest in something, I’ll help lay more of it out there, give them examples of things they might enjoy, as opposed to “you gotta listen to this!” If I think they’ll be into something, I’ll make a compilation for them to listen to on the way to school in the car and back, perhaps.
What have you shown them?
There’s certain things that have stuck with them. Like, my 4-year-old loves that Dot Wiggin record. To the point [that] she always wants to hear “Banana Bike” in the car. Still. [Laughs]
The Shaggs are always interesting to me because there’s always people who don’t like it, and think it’s bad. What do you consider bad music in your head?
When it’s disposable, something that’s been done before, the person knows its been done before, and it's just a shallow interpretation of something. There’s just no originality to it at all. Which is weird, because I like a lot of music people would consider bad; I’m a huge Osmond Brothers fan. I think a lot of their music is totally dope, but I think a lot of people haven’t sat down to understand it. A lot of it isn’t great, obviously. But there’s some really interesting things going on there, especially with Donny’s synthesizer work — you’d be surprised.
It’s one thing I like to do, be like, “Hey guys, guess what band this is,” and put on “Gotta Get Love” or something. And nobody will ever figure out.
What sort of outlet does Goblin Cock give you versus your other bands?
A lot of stuff. I get to play loud — dumb, in a lot of ways — music. I get to say whatever I want in a song and people won’t pay attention to it anyways because they think I’m just singing about boners or whatever, which I’m mostly not.
There’s hidden meaning to every song?
Yeah, usually. Usually there’s a cool story to everything. Some kind of interpretation or euphemism, some dumb sex thing is usually a euphemism for something that’s important to me. [Laughs]
When you were a younger person, how did you come across these different genres? Were you always keeping your ears open?
Definitely. Even the earliest memories of going to a lot of yard sales. Every weekend there was this place called the Berlin Auction in New Jersey, and [I'd] just go through all the vinyl then. I’d always ask for anything with loud guitars or synthesizers. This was in the mid-'70s. And sometimes I’d be fooled by record covers, but I’d always find tons of interesting stuff just asking for those two things.Goblin Cock pretty much covers those two things very well.
How many records do you own?
I don’t know. I can’t really afford to buy records right now. There’s so many things on my list that I have to be satisfied listening to on a computer. But I have a pretty good library of things.
Do you have a white whale of a record you’ve been trying to find?
Ah, gee whiz, uh ... not sure lately. For a while, it was the Horrific Child record, but that got reissued really cool. For a while there, it was the Family Fodder Monkey Banana Kitchen album, but that got reissued real good. I know there’s some white whales, but I can’t think of what they are. There’s a couple Japanese records, but I can’t remember their names. So many weird things out there that I want. There’s some Biff Rose that would be cool to have.
What’s up with the podcast these days?
I haven’t had much extra time to work on things these days, even though I have a need to. I’ve had an idea of what I want to do to make a new podcast that could be a lot more fun. I’m worried about the rules of a podcast at the moment, because if the thing I do gets popular at all, I can’t do it because of copyright laws and all that, and I’d have to pay through the nose to play some of it. Most of what I play is unavailable.
Listening to the podcast, it was really amazing to me to hear a band I really enjoy, A Minor Forest on toy instruments, and even despite the crude instruments, all the songs still sound beautiful.
Yeah, that’s something I’d like to do still. My little studio hasn’t been up to snuff lately, and I’ve been too busy with the kids lately to talk a band into coming over and recording a session with fixed cameras. I’d like to get back into that soon, just a show out of that and a different show, find a new podcast network so I don’t have to pay through the nose to get good sound quality. Just no disposable income. [Laughs]
Have you been doing the stay-at-home dad thing?
Oh yeah, I rarely leave the house.
Is it fun?
Yeah, I just wish we had more opportunities to do more exciting things. But with the wife’s schedule doing the 12-and-a-half-hour night shift ... when she is home, we can’t all go out as a family all the time. It’s fun to do things all together as a family: We try to hit the beach once a week and go out to fun things. But we haven’t been able to do a lot of museums and that kind of thing. We do bookstores and libraries as much as possible.
Are you excited for Star Wars Land?
Super excited for Star Wars Land. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford it by the time it launches. [Laughs]
Yeah, it looks tight. Were you into the newest movie?
Yeah, I was into it. A little worried about Rogue One.
The newest trailer looks OK, but I’ve been fooled before.
I think I’m excited for it because aside from the story, I hated the prequels because the designs were just influenced by only sci-fi, whereas you could see the military influence in the originals, and this looks like it’s gonna bring it back.
Yeah, I like the concept of dirty technology. I think the next one in the trilogy will be cool, but the last one might suck. I don’t have much hope for Episode 9 because they’ve got the Jurassic World guy. I don’t know why.
You’ve got a lot of different projects. Is there anything floating around out there that you didn’t put your name on that people aren’t aware of?
Not that I can think of right now. There’s tons of stuff I still need to put out. Goblin Cock wasn’t supposed to have my name to it; that was sort of the whole idea. I wanted to do it totally anonymous ... and tour on it, never have to deal with who I was. I went through all the trouble of doing that and putting all the information and lyric sheets in runes, and then they stuck my name on the cover. [Laughs]
Is it kind of impossible to make a project that’s totally anonymous from yourself and won’t come back?
I don’t think it’s impossible.There’s a lot of projects I put out and want people to pay attention to that don’t get as much traction as I’d like.
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Pick up Goblin Cock's new Necronomidonkeygongimicon from Joyful Noise Recordings, and catch them on tour.
GOBLIN COCK on TOUR
Sept. 14 — Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Sept. 15 — El Paso, TX @ Bowie Feathers
Sept. 16 — Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar n Grill
Sept. 17 — Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
Sept. 18 — Houston, TX @ Rudyards
Sept. 20 — Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade - Purgatory
Sept. 21 — Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle - Backroom
Sept. 22 — Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Sept. 23 — Washington, DC @ DC9
Sept. 24 — Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts - Black Box
Sept. 25 — Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
Sept. 27 — Providence, RI @ The Parlour
Sept. 28 — Allston, MA @ Great Scott
Sept. 29 — Syracuse, NY @ Funk N Waffles
Sept. 30 — Ann Arbor, MI @ Blind Pig
Oct. 1 — Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi
Oct. 2 — Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Oct. 3 — Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Oct. 4 — Spokane, WA @ The Observatory
Oct. 7 — Seattle, WA @ El Corazon - Funhouse
Oct. 8 — Portland, OR @ Ash Street Saloon
Oct. 10 — San Francisco, CA @ Social Hall SF
Oct. 11 — Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
Oct. 14 — San Diego, CA @ Casbah