"We make honey with our music so people can taste it and enjoy it." What better way to describe what The Pinker Tones have been doing since 2004, when their debut album Mission Pink changed the electro-pop landscape? Sporting dapper, matching suits and thick stunner shades, this early 30-something Barcelonian duo has been reviving the funky beats ever since, via The Million Colour Revolution album in 2006 and a fully remixed version in 2007. This month, Prof. Manso and Mr. Furia released Wild Animals, a collection of eclectic tunes with influences ranging from ska to bossa nova that are sure to liven up your summer dance party. We checked in Prof. Manso to discuss his and Mr. Furia's unique recording process, his side hustle as an old-school style photographer and what's so damn cool about Barcelona.
How did you go about creating such a stylistically diverse album?
All of our albums are eclectic, but it's probably true that with Wild Animals, we’ve unconsciously sought out all the extremes of the Pinker Tones aesthetic. "Fugaz" and "S.E.X.Y.R.O.B.O.T." are definitely the most electronic-sounding records we’ve ever made, and then we also have our most nostalgic song on this record: “On Se Promenait", which is the one song that's written in French. The most sort of naive song we've ever recorded is definitely "The Whistling Song."
You've been touring practically nonstop for three years, so when did you find the time to record it?
Whenever we had a week or two off from the tour, we'd record back home in our Pinkerland studio in Barcelona. Then we'd take all the sounds and energy that transpired on the road and channel them into our recordings. We never sat down and asked ourselves, "What kind of album do we want to make?" We just created songs, and once we had 15 or 20 of them we'd say, “Ok, let’s see...how should we order this so that it has some cohesiveness?”
How did you come up with the concept for your first single on this album, "Happy Everywhere"?
There's an entirely original version of that song that we wrote in Spanish. The verses had a hip-hop feel, and the chorus sounded very pop. One day in the studio, I decided wanted to have another go at the instrumental, so I started playing a much more downtempo, kind of heavier beat. We loved it, but the old lyrics didn't work! So we replaced them with English ones that talk about the dichotomy between the city and the countryside. I live in the forest and Mr. Furia lives in the city, so whenever we’re in one place we always want to be in the other. The only elements of the original version that we've kept are the chords and the main guitar riff.
Wait...you live in the forest?
Yes, I live behind Tibidado, the mountain that is right on the outskirts of Barcelona. It’s a nature reserve, so I'm close to the city but surrounded by nature.
That's different. So who does the album's title refer to?
It's explained in the song “Working Bees" where the lyrics go, “We are wild animals, we are working bees." First, there's this idea that Mr. Furia and I act in a way that's very wild y muy chulo. But also, we’re working bees. We make honey with our music so people can taste it and enjoy it. Also, we have our own label and we promote things in our own way because we’ve realized that sometimes the only way to realize our vision is to be sort of a wild animal, someone who's remained savage and isn’t tamed by the industry.
Why do you think The Pinker Tones appeal to so many different cultures?
I think that people in general identify with artists who have something in common with them. In the U.S., it’s a reality that people speak almost as much Spanish as they do in English. That’s also our reality, because we travel a lot and spend half our time speaking in English. We also grew up listening to a lot of music from England and the US. So it’s normal that we would tap into both cultures.
Tell us about the recent photography book you just released.
I haven’t stopped taking photos since my father gave me his old Canon camera when I was 18. My grandfather also loved photography--his first photos that I saw were taken in Morocco in the 1930s, and that's where I started taking photos 15 years ago. This January I took a trip back to Morocco, and I felt like I'd suddenly come full circle. I thought it was a good time to put out this book...it's been available online for about a month now.
What's your style of photography like?
I like to photgraph people, but I also love empty streets and urban spaces that suggest a human presence that’s no longer there. I shoot a lot in black and white—I have a very classical style, which is funny because I love to experiment so much with music.
Ok, time for a pop quiz: What are two albums every that music lover should own?
For a classic album, I’d have to say Disintegration by the Cure because the '80s was my decade. That was when I'd just started to play the drums and was fascinated by this whole movement of guys dressed in black with their crazy hair. It’s a faraway memory now, but it's still in my heart. For a more recent album, I’d recommend anything by Mark Ronson. I love his work for Amy Winehouse and his own album, Version. His musical references are very clearly in the past, but with such a modern and commercial sound. Brutal.
Great picks. Now, what are two things you do to make sure that you put on a great stage show?
Well, one is "Pinker Power." It's a ritual that we have every night before a show, where we join our arms and start jumping up and down, then we finish off by shouting in a very spectacular way. That is always important to free our energy. Another thing we must do is put on our glasses--without them, we can’t go onstage.
Does your onstage style reflect what you wear in everyday life?
We try to dress with maximum elegance: sometimes a little more sporty, sometimes a bit more classic. But we don’t always wear shiny jackets on the street, no. [laughs]
Gotcha. And finally, what do you love most about your home turf, Barcelona?
One thing is definitely the modernista architecture. It’s amazing for the eyes. La Pedrera is obviously one of the most beautiful examples of it, but there are also smaller works on lesser-known streets that are just as marvelous. My second favorite thing is the park where I live, Parque de Collserola. It’s a very large natural park that surrounds Barcelona from the side of Tibidadbo. It’s virtually untouched, so it’s like the lung of the city.