Story and Photos by: Brian McLean
The 1970s was a unique, forgettable or unforgettable, decade depending on how one wants to reflect upon those years and their sense of fashion. There are many things to remember the 1970s such as mood rings, knee-high striped tube socks and the Pet Rock to name a few. There were so many cool toys for kids like Klackers, Atari’s Pong, Star Wars figures, bright-colored Schwinn chopper bikes with banana seats, Stretch Armstrong, the Six Million Dollar Man and the fearless Evel Knievel and his Stunt Cycle.
But there were also the colors of burnt sierra orange, harvest gold, avocado, blue mustang and teak brown that can be associated with the bell-bottomed decade. These colors could be found on Tupperware storage containers, shag carpet, futuristic-looking telephones or the family station wagon complete with the imitation wood paneling.
For the two members of Pinkish Black and their young impressionable minds at the time, colors are one of the things they remember from the 1970s era. Specifically brown and it shows in their music.
“A lot of my childhood memories seem to be through amber / brown filters” said drummer and Fort Worth resident Jon Teague. “That’s just how I remember that time. News, talk shows, games shows, just a lot of brown.”
Keyboardist Daron Beck has a slightly different perspective.
“Fort Worth is very brown, like it’s been nicotine stained from the 70’s. Haltom City where I live, just outside of Fort Worth is even more so that way.” He added, “We were both in the 70’s and there’s a lot of that era’s vibe in our music, in odd ways.”
Though both members of the duo are influenced by colors, Teague and Beck didn’t grow up together.
According to Beck, their paths first crossed in Denton circa 1997 or 98 as the two were working in different projects, including Teague’s psychedelic band called Yeti.
A handful of years later Beck heard that Teague, who was employed at the Wreck Room, a live music venue in Fort Worth was considering a move to Austin. It was at this time Beck approached Teague and pitched the idea of being in a band together. Teague agreed and The Great Tyrant was born as a two-piece band, but wouldn’t stay that way for long.
Fellow Yeti member Tommy Atkins reached out and expressed interest in joining The Great Tyrant. The band was now a three-piece. With a very short journey of creating music that blended gothic horror and doom metal music, The Great Tyrant encountered a tragedy with the passing of Atkins in February 2010.
Shortly after Atkins’ passing, Teague and Beck announced they would continue as a two piece but not under the The Great Tyrant moniker. Thus, Pinkish Black was born.
Since the band’s formation, Pinkish Black has released four full length studio albums. The self -titled debut in 2012 through Handmade Birds Records which is unfortunately no longer in print, can still be obtained in vinyl and CD format at Pinkish Black shows. Per Beck, Handmade Birds Records has given Pinkish Black all remaining copies of the debut and once those copies are gone, they’re gone.
The sophomore effort Razed to the Ground was released through Century Media records in 2013 which had many supporters of the label questioning the Pinkish Black release in the first place.
Calling Century Media records home as a label would be short lived even though there was support from the label.
Beck explained, “When Century Media put out our second album, there was a lot of negative comments just because they’re not the kind of label that puts stuff like us out and the people that follow their label were like what is this crap?” He continued, “We knew that was going to happen and they stuck with us on the fact we had good pitchfork reviews on the first album.”
Teague added, “We were really lucky they published that.”
Two years later in 2015, Bottom of the Morning, the band’s third, strongest, and most focused album up to that point was released through Relapse Records. The cover features a brownish tint rainbow stretching over a silhouetted skyline with an eerie opening track titled “Brown Rainbow” that ties in with the cover art.
The band saw label support and decent touring including a month long run of 2017 European dates that consisted of stops at Roadburn, Doom over Leipzig and various sized venues such as a castle dungeon, a yacht and artistic co-ops.
Basically a bigger metal tour according to Teague.
He went on to explain some nights the shows were packed, people were turned away and lots of merchandise was sold. Other nights, the setting was more intimate. He added, one of the venues was a concrete room that was extremely cold but the soundman saved the day with a healthy supply of green leafy herbs.
Per Teague, Pinkish Black has shared the stage with notable bands such as Ghost, Neurosis, Goblin, Om, Sleep, Pallbearer, Zombi, and Saint Vitus just to name a few. “We are lucky to have good friends.”
As for North America, Pinkish Black was fortunate enough to have an eight date trek with Ghost in the spring of 2016. It’s one of their more memorable and notable outings on the road.
“The Ghost tour was unlike others. More like touring with a Las Vegas show than a rock band.” Teague continued, “It was awesome watching that production take shape every night. We played some great venues and had a really good time.”
Beck chimed in that Pinkish Black were treated very kindly by the band and their crew but not the fans. He acknowledged the challenge, “We were expecting that.”
In August 2018, Beck experienced not one but two serious health scares. He said, “It was two widow maker heart attacks two weeks apart.”
Besides allowing for recovery time to better himself, these didn’t hamper the release of their new album.
With three solid albums behind Pinkish Black and a healthier Beck, the keyboard, synth and drums combination have recently released their latest studio album titled Concept Unification, their second release through Relapse Records.
Teague said, “It’s always a relief (and a privilege) to have a recording published.”
The release can be obtained on vinyl, CD, and digital which includes two additional tracks.
Teague said the band tracked the initial six songs in January but then learned that there needed to be two additional tracks for the digital release.
The lapse of time for the release was really more impacted by the writing of the additional songs according to Beck.
“We spent a month writing and recording two more tracks then returned to Cloudland to mix everything.” Teague added, “All things considered, I think they turned it around pretty quickly. I am very happy with the way it came out.”
The reaction, not just from supporters in Fort Worth but, from across the nation have been positive.
Beck said, “So far, people seem to like it, for the most part.” He added, “Being marketed to metal publications is always a bit weird for us, because it’s not what they usually deal with.”
Their heavy synth doom offering doesn’t seem to deter established European and North American publications like Revolver, Kerrang, and Brave Words from positive press coverage with interviews, picks of the week and a podcast.
With those pieces of coverage alone, Pinkish Black was introduced to hundreds if not thousands of music fans that were unaware of the Texas duo.
Beck said, “There’s been some people who just seemed to find out about us”
People are surprised with the amount of material that Pinkish Black has released with a discography that is now at four studio albums.
Beck added, “We are still very below the radar you know for the most part.”
Music and the industry has changed drastically since Beck and Teague started playing live in their respective projects but more in the last five to ten years.
Teague said, “Things have changed a lot in five years as the type of music people seem to be exploring. The way they are getting music.” He added, “Five years ago there wasn’t Spotify. I’m glad that we’re here in this day and age because we’ve been doing this since the 80’s.”
Beck supported Teague’s thought. “We used to go put cassettes at independent record stores like CDX or Off Beat Records in Arlington or Forever Young.” He continued, “It is like put out free cassettes and write if you like the Gong or the Flaming Lips, you’ll like this, a free cassette.”
Beck said with a chuckle that he’s made a lot of weird friends that way.
Up to the release date, anticipation was building locally in the Fort Worth/Dallas area for Concept Unification to hit the streets. The album was released on Friday, June 14 and the following day, a record release party was hosted by Panther City Vinyl in Fort Worth. A full house in accordance with the fire code enjoyed a solid, loud and thick wall of sound set by Pinkish Black in the bright daylight hours of the afternoon.
The band treated the standing room only crowd to “Concept Unification”, “Until”, “Dial Tone” and “Petit Mal”, all cuts from the new album. Pinkish Black then went back to the second release and pulled out “Ash Tray Eyes” then concluded their release party set with “Next Solution”, the final track on Concept Unification.
After the set, members mingled and sold plenty of vinyl as well as other merchandise such as PB rings, pendants, shirts, coffee mugs, and tote bags.
New fans were recruited with the performance. Some were saying they were unaware Pinkish Black was a Fort Worth band and were highly impressed.
Fort Worth resident Dan Crawford is one of those fans. He was aware Pinkish Black was from Fort Worth and on Relapse Records but he had never seen the band perform.
For those who wanted more live Pinkish Black music, they would have to wait until the following Saturday where the band would play a second record release party at Main at Southside, a live music venue several miles east of Panther City. This time around, the Pinkish Black set would be in a more formal live setting with stage lights and an elevated stage.
As an added bonus, Tamara Cauble Brown (violin) and Chuck Brown (trumpet, trombone) who were additional musicians during the recording of Concept Unification would be on stage with Pinkish Black during select songs.
Those who were familiar with the newly released album were able to see firsthand how and where the violin and trombone fit in. The Pinkish Black sound was much brighter and the addition of those instruments created another dimension during the set. The MASS set definitely was a step up from the Panther City daytime performance. Disappointments were absent.
Since the record release parties, Pinkish Black has played or scheduled a handful of one off shows in Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Oklahoma City but they are ready to extend their reach once again across various regions of North America in two week increments.
According to Beck, “There will be no more month long tours.” He added, “Especially because I do all the driving. We’ll start here and usually we like to go to Colorado.”
Teague said, “It’s whichever way gets us to the coast (west) and most likely to the top.”
Beck added, “We are currently planning a west coast tour and will do the east coast a few weeks after that. Probably in the fall.”
Pinkish Black recently announced they signed on with Nanotear Booking whose client list includes Bill Ward of Black Sabbath fame, Witch Mountain, Conan and Relapse label mates YOB and Coffins.
With Nanotear now handling the booking of Pinkish Black, more dates throughout various regions of North America shouldn’t be out of the question.
With Concept Unification making its rounds for just a little over six weeks, the band is mulling over whether to make a video for “Inanimatronic,” the longest track on album.
Beck stated, “I think at some point I may make a video for “Inanimatronic.” I’ve talked about it for a while.” He added, “I may incorporate some of the actual “Concept Unification” video into that.”
If so, then “Inanimatronic” would be the third video from Concept Unification. The other two being the title track, “Concept Unification” and “Dial Tone.”
As for what Pinkish Black would like for listeners to take away from Concept Unification, Beck explains. “It’s a play or a movie or something that you want people to be able to kind of go into that world for a little bit and then come back out.” He added, “I can’t ever really speculate about what I think people will say.”
Whatever people take away from Pinkish Black and Concept Unification, whether veteran or rookie fans of the band, they will walk away with a unique experience, pondering long after the last note how two musicians can level the powerful, solid thick synth sound. Little by little and listener by listener, the metal community continues to unearth and fully embraced one of the highest quality and polished gemstones of metal.