When Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith IV's named their project Pinback, a reference to an obscure science fiction movie of the 1970s, only the nerdiest of film nerds got the joke.
The San Diego indie rock stalwarts were paying tribute to a key character in John Carpenter's low budget debut Dark Star. In 1974, the future director of Halloween and Escape From New York put together a direct descendant of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey but with a wacky sense of humor. Informed by the Cold War hysteria of the time, the film followed a small group of interstellar adventurers from Earth on a mission to destroy unstable planets... Until one of their spaceship's talking bombs gains self-awareness. Co-writer Dan O'Bannon played Sgt. Pinback.
New Timesspoke with Crow last month about the band, a mutual appreciation for sci-fi, particularly an appreciation for the genre's game changer Star Wars, could not be avoided.
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New Times: I love the origin of your band name. Have you seen Dark Star on Blu-Ray, yet? Does it still hold up?
Rob Crow: I mean, I watch it all the time (laughs). It's just a good movie that I like to watch. There was a period in my life when I watched it every day. It was either that or Duck Soup [the Marx Brothers classic] or all sorts of things.
Sci-fi seems part of the influence in your songwriting. What do you like about the film genre?
It's the genre with the least amount of good films attached to it. There's tons and tons of science fiction films and maybe 20 really good ones, and that's counting the ones that are good by mistake. The ones that I like most are the ones that have like dirty technology. Like Silent Running or [Star Wars: Episode IV] A New Hope or Dark Star. Things that are futuristic but run down.
Yeah, I liked it.
Can you even count how many times you have seen the original Star Wars?
Oh, that would be impossible, and then I saw it nine times when it came out originally.
What do you think of news of the sequels?
Well, I have high hopes. I mean, J.J. Abrams did real good with that first Star Trek. Yeah, I liked it a lot, and [screenwriter] Michael Arndt worked on Toy Story 3, which I loved a lot. Let's just hope things don't get really convoluted.
All I can do is cross my fingers and hope for a hero, like some real characters that my kids can look up to like I looked up to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and Princess Leia and Chewbacca and R2 and C-3PO and Obi-Wan. That would be great, somebody like that for them, for their own generation.