Pow Pow Family Band
“If this isn’t nice then what is?” bids Miles Robbins with his debut record ‘All Right,’ a collection of ten warm and saccharine tight pop songs, wavering between offbeat satire and ultra-personal, lyrically driven tunes written in Robbins’ home Providence, RI during his time at Brown University.
Pow Pow Family Band began as Miles and classmate Nara Shin bonded over the release of LCD Soundsystem’s “This is Happening” (from which the name Pow Pow derives) and began playing shows in Providence living rooms, basements, diners and warehouse venues. One summer, Robbins, Shin, and their expanding circle of collaborators, including producer/multi-instrumentalist Gabe Wax (The War On Drugs, Fleet Foxes, Beirut, Strand of Oaks) escaped the city for a barn-turned-recording-studio in upstate New York. In the span of a month, the group cooked, swam, traded off instruments, made things here and there, and as the summer ended, ‘All Right’ was born.
All throughout the process of creating ‘All Right,’ the aforementioned Kurt Vonnegut quote pulled together Robbins’ various influences – Murakami, Zen Buddhism, Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy, psychedelic biophilia– into a tight narrative collection of fleeting, sonically diverse moments recalling Wilco or Elephant Six pop psychedelics. The album touches on the realization of how wonderful it is to have had something to lose. “An optimistic story of loss” as Miles puts it, comparing the loss of love to the misplacing of a mythical beast, “I found the Loch Ness monster, and although I lost her / Still I know that there is a monster, somewhere there’s a monster.”
Miles’ musical upbringing started ways ahead of this first offering. Hailing from an artistic family – his grandfather, Gil Robbins, was a member of legendary folk group The Highwaymen – Miles grew up with Woody Guthrie and the Beatles playing in the background. But his first creative inspiration came from an awkward childhood heartbreak. “When I was eleven I broke my right arm and my date to the 5th grade dance bailed on me for some other eleven year old.” recalls Robbins “I had access to two fingers sticking out of the cast and realized that they were enough to play the bass guitar and start writing horrible songs.”
The Pow Pow Family has since expanded into full on musical tour de force with dozens of members rotating in and out of the ever-changing lineup. Even the instruments themselves vary from night to night, ensuring that you’ll never see the same show twice.
And what a way to sum up Pow Pow Family Band’s ethos – they’re this peculiar, wonderful, and bizarre collective that may hand you a pamphlet about how The Matrix is a documentary or perform alongside a Bob Ross impersonator silently instructing the audience in the live painting of a landscape. But if you give in, you’ll see a sincerity that shines through the mayhem of their live performances. “If this isn’t nice then what is ?” Lend them an ear and let’s find out. ‘All Right’ comes out November 18th via Modern Sky USA.