The Black Pine is an American Alternative/Indie/Neo-Psychedelic Rock band. The Black Pine consists of Mitch Cichocki (guitar, lead vocals), Ian Latchmansingh (bass guitar), James Scott Rubia (guitar, keys) and Emma Kathan (drums, guitar, vocals). Their fifth and most recent album “Waves” was released 2017.
Interview by Gina Tron
The Black Pine’s new album has washed ashore and its retro melodies are perfect for a sunny trip through the desert.
The Black Pine formed in 2000 in Los Angeles, CA with husband and wife duo Mitch Cichocki and Emma Kathan and bassist Jason Bacher. The Black Pine has had several different formations and members change over the years but Mitchell and Emma have always been the two main songwriters in the band. Moving from Los Angeles to New York and now over the last two years Florida, Mitchell and Emma met their two new bandmates Ian Latchmansingh and James Scott Rubia who play on their most recent album “Waves”.
To me, their new album has a familiar 1990s vibe, Radiohead meets Oasis with a kiss of Beach House. The track “Sparks” ignites sounds reminiscent of Thom Yorke à la 1994.
However, much of the sonic inspiration for this particular album comes from a few decades prior. When I asked them if there was a certain time period or vibe they were thinking of when writing this album, Emma said that the 1970s was a big inspiration. She cited bands like The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Wings.”Especially the recording techniques, the space between instruments. Unfortunately we don’t have the money or access to the kinds of studios, tape, consoles and engineers that those bands had, so I think it was more of a vibe in the songwriting style.”
Waves was recorded in two coastal states: about half of it was recorded in Los Angeles, California with engineer Aaron Espinoza (Earlimart, Elliot Smith, Grandaddy ..) and the rest in Jacksonville, Florida with engineer Brian Squillace (Sea Cycles, Grammer Tree, ). It is evident while listening to the album that a new vibe takes over about halfway through. The beginning definitely has a west coast vibe, but the album ends on an east coast note. Waves is dreamy and sometimes eerie (like on the track “Flowers”) from start to finish.
Since their first E.P. The Sexlife of Flowers in 2003, Black Pine has evolved as a band.
“We don’t have as many 7 minute long songs” said Mitch with a laugh. “I love looking at the roots of music. Like tracing a certain riff back through music history to try and see how it evolved. It’s not always a success but I almost always run into something new along the way. Years of doing that kind of thing and learning songs that are interesting to us has given us a much bigger musical base to pull from. Kind of in contrast to that, the songs have gotten tighter and more direct lyrically. Even though the songwriting evolves and different musicians play with us, there is still a similarity in the sound and feel of the music. Some kind of bittersweet vibe seems to always creep in.”
When asked about accessibility, Emma answered “I’m not sure if our albums have ever been or will ever be accessible in a popular music sense but I feel like this album may be our most accessible yet?” I don’t know. On our first albums, the songs were slower, maybe darker. But, I think we’ve always had a mixture of slow/dark mixed with positive or hopeful songs, so it’s hard to say. Our first albums were made when we lived in a dark rehearsal space/apartment in LA, and we were all going through some hard times together, but good times, so our past songs probably reflect that, the happy, the sad, the love, heartache etc.”
After completing their first album they befriended actor/writer/musician Adam Goldberg. Adam and members of The Black Pine formed a side project called LANDy (named after Brian Wilson’s infamous psychiatrist) they released an album together called LANDy – Eros and Omissions also featuring Steven Drozd of Flaming Lips and Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart.
When Adam found out there were too many other items and people who also liked to call themselves LANDy he renamed his new solo project “The Goldberg Sisters”. (Adam’s new albums under the name The Goldberg Sisters no longer feature musicians from The Black Pine).
Members of The Black Pine also played with comedienne Sarah Silverman for her stand up show “Jesus is Magic” playing the music behind her songs about porn, vaginas, sunshine, and things of that nature.
They also collaborated with ex Chokebore singer, Troy Von Balthazar both as being musicians on his 2010 solo album, “How to Live on Nothing” and had him sing with The Black Pine on a song called Paradise from the 2008 Black Pine album, “Still Life”.
Being a musician or artist isn’t always synonymous with monetary rewards but according to the band, it is ripe with other incentives.
“Getting better at what you’re doing and learning new things musically is always rewarding” said Mitchell.
Emma added, “Yeah, it’s always fun to learn. We do a lot of covers at home, or in practice, just to learn some different styles. Sometimes you can get stuck in your own ideas without evolving so it’s good to try different things that are out there, things that you may not have come up with yourself. Then, you can do your own original take on a part that inspired you from it, or not, because just learning to play something new is a challenge and sets your creativity off.”
As far as success in music, Emma added: “Music is an outlet for us and even if no one else ever likes what we do, we are all having fun being creative together and inspiring each other. In a way, you have to be your own fans. I think everyone we’ve played with and continue to play with are all super talented and I love seeing and hearing the new things they create. It’s not always easy to remember that playing music is not a means to end, (usually financial success or the rock star ideal) it should be appreciated for the art, creativity and pleasure of just doing it.”
The Black Pine – Song: “The Light” from their 2017 album “Waves”
The Black Pine- Song: “Flowers” from their 2017 album “Waves”