PINS on "Hot Slick" | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 30th, 2023  

PINS on “Hot Slick”

Dark Energy

Feb 16, 2021 Photography by Debbie Ellis
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When Manchester, England-based band PINS’ original rhythm section decided to move on it left founding members Faith Vern and Lois MacDonald (plus Kyoko Swan) with a conundrum in terms of how to move things forwards. “We had to figure out a different way of making music without a traditional drummer,” explain Vern. “Lois was really getting into all the drum machines and synthesizers, so it was getting a little more electronic at that point anyway.”

The trio decided that rather than recruit new permanent members they’d work with a rotating cast of collaborators. It was a bold move but it certainly paid off as their third album Hot Slick is arguably their most cohesive work to date. The band sound bigger and brighter than ever and they have crafted an album that still maintains all the edginess that made PINS such an interesting proposition in the first place, but they’ve also expanded their sonic palette and taken it onto a sticky neon-lit dance floor.

“We wanted this album to be a bit more electronic but keep that dark energy in there,” explains Vern. “I think it’s certainly the first album we’ve done which you can dance to. The beauty of the set up now is it’s just the three of us at the core and we can bring in anyone else who wants to collaborate and people can come and go as they please. In that way, there’s a lot less pressure. And when we were writing the album our roles were flexible and interchangeable. So for example, Lois played the guitar on some tracks, I played on some, and Kyoko did. It was like if you’ve got a bass guitar next to you just pick it up. It was a lot looser in that we didn’t have assigned roles which made us much freer.”

After releasing their second album, Wild Nights, via Bella Union, Vern explains why the band decided to self-release again via their own Haus of Pins label. “When we were with Bella Union, creatively it was great, but financially it was a bit of a struggle,” she says. “That’s simply due to the nature of record contracts. Abbey and Simon [Raymonde], who run the label, were always hugely supportive. At the time we felt like we needed some additional support from the wider team there. Eventually, we felt perhaps we weren’t getting what we wanted out of things.”

After looking around to see what other deals might be on offer, the band weren’t overly impressed. Vern explains that most labels “were all about taking more off us than we were willing to give and we certainly didn’t want to give up creative control.”

PINS tested the waters by releasing their 2017 EP, Bad Thing, and 2017 single, “Serve the Rich,” on Haus of Pins. “We worked with Cargo records who took on aspects we didn’t know much about such as getting records pressed, storing them, and the distribution to record stores which hugely takes the pressure off,” Vern says.

And besides releasing their own music, when the band began the label back in 2012 they supported other emerging artists, releasing early recordings by the likes of Dream Wife, September Girls, Abjects, and Cheri Cheri Jaguar. Vern admits they wouldn’t be averse to exploring that aspect of the label again. “It would be nice to release more vinyl in the future and start releasing other artists. But let’s see how the land lies after all this corona shit is over!” she laughs. “I mean the music business was a struggle before this, but being a self-releasing band at least we can actually put our album out! I know other artists have been advised by their labels not to put anything out yet, but who knows what will happen?”

[Note: This article originally appeared as a bonus article in the digital version (for tablets and smart phones) of Issue 67 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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