Low-fi underachievers?

No, San Diego trio Pinback probably won’t be future VH1 fodder

Pinback’s Armistead Burwell “Zach” Smith IV and Rob Crow: “At least now we won’t have to contribute to that Wipers tribute album.” (Not pictured: Tom Zinsor.)

Pinback’s Armistead Burwell “Zach” Smith IV and Rob Crow: “At least now we won’t have to contribute to that Wipers tribute album.” (Not pictured: Tom Zinsor.)

Live! 8 p.m. Thursday, November 15, at Capitol Garage, 1427 l St., with Hella and Boilermaker. All ages; admission is $7.

Over half the overexposed trash that commercial radio shoves down our throats comes via bands that never paid their dues. Whether it’s a result of someone copulating with an A&R rep, laying out payola for record spins, foisting a band on the VH1 show Bands on the Run or onto tours sponsored by Nescafé or Honey Nut Cheerios, it would seem that the music has taken the back seat to a quickie paycheck.

Speaking of VH1, Pinback, a San Diego-based trio that plays Capitol Garage on Thursday, is a veritable Behind the Music episode waiting to happen.

It’s a safe bet that Pinback’s three members have become disenchanted with the music industry by now. The trio was signed to the Portland-based Tim Kerr label, an Astroturf indie that had the Wipers, Pere Ubu and Dandy Warhols on its roster. But Pinback’s contract with Tim Kerr had some major pitfalls, which precipitated a six-month legal battle that eventually landed them on Ace-Fu Records, home to Tight Bros From Way Back When, the Champs, Heartworms (ex-Velocity Girl), and Sucka MC’s. Blue Screen Life is the trio’s second full-length platter—although the band has released a self-produced, low-fi live effort titled Live in Donnie’s Garage, along with a 7-inch single and a hard-to-find EP called Some Voices.

Bassist/vocalist Armistead Burwell Smith IV, better known as the monosyllabic Zach, and drummer Tom Zinsor both had a short-lived run in 3-Mile Pilot. But that band suffered from the same lousy distribution, via the San Diego-based Cargo Music label, that effectively marginalized such local heroes as Forever Goldrush and the now-defunct Drop Acid, the latter featuring Kevin Seconds and Heckler magazine’s Sonny Mayugba. Pinback also features vocalist/guitarist Rob Crow, whose CV includes such luminary combos as Optiginally Yours, Heavy Vegetable and Thingy.

Crow has a few opinions on why certain releases come to fruition, particularly the band’s live CD-R, which is available only at Pinback’s live shows. “It’s mostly just kind of killing two birds with one stone,” he says. “It’s cool to have something different to sell to people that want to see you, [so they] have something to take home. We don’t purposely make it so people can’t have something.”

As for paying dues, Crow has worked at his share of shit jobs—McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., apartment manager/slumlord. Whether or not he finds “success” with his current bandmates has yet to be determined. Fortunately, the daunting task of going on tour pales when compared to flipping burgers. What’s most important for Crow is that, these days, he seems focused on just making good music. “All I want to do is write music and try to make something with integrity,” he says.

Anyone looking for sonic dissonance and overt song structures can find solace in Pinback. From Brian Eno to the Jam and the Beatles, Crow and Smith aren’t afraid to post influences on their sleeves, whether they originated from their previous bands or came from current music. The result is Blue Screen Music, an album overflowing with melodic, introspective rock.

Perhaps on this November’s tour, one of whose stops is Capitol Garage, Sacramento’s last bastion for true indie rock, the band will bring along another CD-R to satiate the appetites of its acolytes and newfound fans. If Pinback’s live show is anywhere near as good as performances by its members’ former bands have been, you should be in for a real treat.

Why should you bother to leave home to see Pinback? Why not? It certainly beats waiting 10 years to see a rehash on VH1’s Behind the Music.