Pinback has made quite a name for itself over the last years. The success of the band’s third full-length album, and particularly the single “Fortress,” propelled the San Diego-based duo into the limelight of popular radio.

Steered by guitarists and vocalists Rob Crow (12-string guitar) and Zach Smith (baritone guitar), Pinback is now promoting its September release of “Autumn of the Seraphs.”

Dubbed “lowly indie rockers” in an e-mail from the band’s record company Touch and Go, Pinback has owned a variety of musical categories including indie, pop, electro-rock, alternative and emo.

When I asked Smith to describe the band’s style of music, he refused. “I’ll skip that one,” he said, explaining, “I think one of our things is to try to not be categorized; that’s just annoying. I mean, you have to put labels on things, I guess. But do you?”

I guess Smith has a point, at least when it comes to Pinback’s latest album. Substitute the vocals on the album’s first track, “From Nothing to Nowhere,” with an edgier, Dave Grohl-esque voice and you’ve got a hard rock band. Insert some angsty pop punk vocals and you’ve got yourself another Fall Out Boy. It must be hard to categorize a band whose instrumentation could serve as a cookie cutter for popular radio . or infinitely easy depending on which way you look at it.

But maybe that’s not entirely fair.

Pinback’s instrumentation, though unoriginal, is anything but boring. Crow and Smith play with layers, brewing intensity under repetitive guitar riffs and then contrasting it with lighter piano melodies. The contrast and harmony within every song emits a vibe that can be both sad and hopeful at the same – everything an indie kid needs.

These instrumental layers are further aided by Crow and Smith’s ability to vocally harmonize (and to do it well). Crow’s voice – higher and melodic, with the ability to cut syllables and deliver energy with a slip of the tongue – makes Pinback just a little different.

Pinback will perform at 8 p.m. tonight at Downtown Brewing Co.

The Mustang Daily caught up with Smith while he was on the road and, amid the sound of cars buzzing by, he chatted about “Autumn of the Seraphs,” Crow’s conflicting taste in music and his own non-hatred of The Beatles.

Mustang Daily: Touch and Go is promoting “Autumn of the Seraphs” as being very different from your previous releases. What makes this album unique from other Pinback albums?

Zach Smith: We’ve always had the same sort of style that’s always in everything that we’ve done. But, if anything else, this is a little more upbeat than some of the things we’ve done in the past. The drums, definitely as far as the recording thing, I mean there are live drums pretty much for every song. That’s kind of part of it. Hopefully we’re doing something a little different every time. There’s definitely more speed with it; it’s not so laid-back.

MD: One thing I noticed about this album is all the songs sort of have layers to them. Can you describe the songwriting process? How does that develop?

ZS: There’s no first; there’s no right or wrong. It just happens one way or another way depending on what the song is . There’s no, like, Step 1: Insert this into hand. You know, it’s always changing. I think we write songs every which way you can . We might have an idea and just quickly record that idea and not come back to it for months and then go, “Oh yeah, that idea,” and then just add something to it. And then it’ll slowly evolve into a song.

MD: It’s been said that you and Rob have completely different tastes when it comes to music and what you listen to. How does that work and mesh together in the songwriting process?

ZS: There are definitely bands that we both like, but there’s a lot of things – mostly that he likes to listen to a lot of things. He’s a record collector, and he goes and seeks things to listen to when he wants to hear music. So there’s a lot of things he’ll bring to the table and say, “Hey check this out,” and (I’ll say) “God, it’s hideous! It’s horrible! I don’t even want to hear it any more.”

But a good thing about writing with somebody who has different tastes is that you have (someone) to bounce things off of or get a reaction from. If it was just you writing, everything’s great, you know, “Aw this is good,” or, “I don’t like it.” But as far as what he’ll bring, you know he’s into death metal, so he’ll bring that in somehow. I mean, look at the titles of our albums, you know: “Summer in Abaddon.” Abaddon is a drummer in a death metal band. He sneaks his things in there even though I can’t stand death metal. So I think that’s how we create things where people have different tastes.

MD: Despite the differences in musical taste, what are some of Pinback’s biggest influences as a whole?

ZS: I think it’s not really like, “That band,” you know? I think it’s just sort of certain things, like you know we’ve said in the past that we both like The Police and we both like things like Devo and there (are) all kinds of things … Gary Newman is one that I’m getting into that he likes a lot. And there’s Beefheart; there’s certain things about the way Captain Beefheart does things, and Rob’s a huge fan of them, and certain things about (them) that I can really appreciate that are sort of an influence on how we do things. But nothing specific and nothing that is more than just a subconscious influence; we do stuff on our own and create our own thing.

MD: Now, it’s also been said that neither you nor Rob like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. What’d they do wrong?

ZS: Uh-uh. That’s not true. Maybe Rob was speaking for me on that one.

MD: Actually, I listened to a podcast and you guys were both talking about it.

ZS: I think I might even know which one you’re talking about, and I brought up “Revolver,” a Beatles’ album that I do like. There are certain songs that The Rolling Stones have written that are great, you know? In general am I going to put The Beatles or The Rolling Stones on? No. It’s not because I don’t think they’re great, but it’s not something that I gravitate toward. But he flat-out hates that stuff.
One thing I can say about The Beatles is that they were lucky that they were one of the first bands in a sense, as how we look at bands nowadays. They had a whole world of things they could get away with . You know, you’ll write a song and then you’ll come across something and be like, “Oh wait, it sounds really like this.” They didn’t have to deal with that so much I don’t think; there wasn’t 30 years of bands before them as a traditional rock band goes. That’s one thing they had going for them . They didn’t go, “Oh jeez, wait this sounds like Pink Floyd; we can’t write this song.” Where that kind of stuff will happen to us. That’s happened to me in the past where I’ll have an idea and then realize, “Oh jeez, that’s this song.” And I can’t go any further with it.

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