Interview: Pink Frost Discuss The “Orwellian Freak-Outs And Dystopian Visions” That Informed New LP

Adam Lukas of Pink Frost is processing the "overwhelming feeling that we are at the end of something"

pink frost interview

Chicago’s Pink Frost returned this month with their adventurous new LP, New Minds (stream here). The album finds Pink Frost experimenting with the anthemic grit of nineties grunge, the sludgy stomp of Sabbath, sprawling shoegaze textures, and even wistful psych rock. The band sounds inspired, intrepid, and free.

Pink Frost are vocalist & guitarist Adam Lukas, guitarist Paige Sandlin, bassist Alex Shumard and drummer Jesse Hozeny. New Minds was recorded at Steve Albini’s famed studio Electrical Audio with engineer Gregoire Yeche. The band describes the studio as “almost like another member of the band.”

We asked Pink Frost’s Adam Lukas some questions via email, and he was kind enough to write some truly thoughtful responses about Motörhead, alternative facts, “Orwellian freak-outs,” Electrical Audio, and more. Read the interview here:

Culture Creature: How did Pink Frost evolve between 2013’s Sundowning and this year’s New Minds?

Adam Lukas: That’s a tough question. It all seems like a pretty linear progression to me, and we’re always focusing on what is exciting to us at the moment. The biggest change was the addition of Alex to the group on bass, which actually happened just a few weeks before we went into the studio. There was a scheduling conflict with our previous bassist, and he couldn’t make the session, so it was swift lineup change. It added an urgency and excitement to recording. The songs were pretty much already written, but he learned all the tunes on the quick, and really pushed things to a new level. He is a phenomenal musician, and added a tightness and depth that is showcased on New Minds.  I feel really fortunate that he could play on the record, and we’re stoked to have him in the group.

Can you describe the inspiration behind the lyric “There’s no wrong/There’s no right/We hide in the light”?

The line “We hide in the light” might have been inspired by binging on old ‘X-Files’ episodes, but it soon became something else and something seemingly more relevant. I was finishing up vocals during the 2016 campaign and all my tendencies towards Orwellian freak-outs and dystopian visions seemed to be playing out in real time on the billion glowing screens. The doublespeak and the blatant disregard for the truth was mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time. There they were, telling us to not believe our eyes and talking about alternative facts. It continues still and now we live in a fucked-up nightmare and I can’t turn off the television. #sad

“We live in a fucked-up nightmare and I can’t turn off the television.”

What are the primary themes of New Minds?

Most of the lyrics and themes are filtered through this overwhelming feeling that we are at the end of something. The end of truth. The end of a certain idea of America. The end of humanity as we know it, before we merge with our iPhones and other gadgets. I’m not all that sad about it, really – and I’m not sure of the alternatives – but I’m feeling a great nostalgia for the 20th century. For the obviousness of it all. For its antiquated tech. For metal and the tactile. For the big smoke and the loud things. I recently had the chance to drive a 1967 Chevelle and it was a total revelation. It was like time-traveling. There was a danger. A danger you could control. A danger that announced itself. Something fun and inefficient. Something that will never exist again. So I guess they’re all love songs to our obsolescence.

New Minds was recorded at Electrical Audio with engineer Gregoire Yeche. How would you describe the experience of working with Gregoire Yeche?

Gregoire is a total pleasure to work with. He is one of my favorite people. After working with him on Sundowning and the subsequent Traitors EP, we’ve achieved a really comfortable flow and an almost telepathic relationship. He knows what we’re going for sonically, and we’re always pushing each other to get closer to the elusive sound in our heads. He’s always open and excited to experiment with different microphones and recording strategies. By doing these last couple records together, we’ve grown as a team.

It’s not like he’s the man behind the glass. He’s in it with us. While recording, you’re in a very exposed and vulnerable state – and it’s a delicate balance to keep things creative and fresh and to keep things moving while avoiding getting caught up on small details that can wormhole into lost hours and destroy a session. He seems to know when it is worth it to chase the shiny object and when to shut it down and say in accented English, “You know, your brain is bullshit. You are hearing things that are not there” and move on.  He also might be the only person that can spend a week straight with us without losing their minds, but you’ll have to ask him about that.

Steve Albini is known for his no-nonsense approach and engineering prowess. Do all Electrical Audio staff share a similar ethos to Steve?

Steve’s style definitely filters through everyone there. It’s not oppressive or anything, but everything operates within his basic framework. It’s about documenting the performance and capturing what is happening in the room. It’s a very exciting way to work. It’s all about getting the take and committing it to tape. There’s no bullshit. No magic button. If your amp sounds like garbage in the room, it will sound like garbage on tape. There is an honesty in that. It’s very human.

What album have you listened to more than any other?

Probably Ace of Spades by Motörhead. I work at this bar where when ‘Ace of Spades’ comes on it’s mandatory for the entire staff to meet behind the bar for a “staff meeting” of a shot of whisky before the song ends. So it‘s quite a popular album.

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