If there’s a golden rule or alchemical secret to rock n’ roll, Adam McIntyre’s spent the whole of his existence interpreting and perfecting the formula. As far as life’s work goes, in my ragged book, it’s a noble pursuit. I’ve known McIntyre for over fifteen years and in our last conversation, I was enthralled by the backstory I never knew of multiple tragedies, a blues prodigy gone rogue, and the evolution of his band, The Pinx, an outfit I’ve shared the stage with, witnessed across multiple iterations, and continue to admire. On August 19th, The Pinx will release their eponymous fourth full-length album, an epic fifteen-track labor of love recorded with the GRAMMY-award-winning Tom Tapley at Atlanta’s West End Sound. The Pinx is pitched somewhere between hot ’70s abandon– that post-fury begat by Flower Power strained through asphalt-aroma’d psychedelia– and funky vinegar-based Georgia style. Drawing from the combined palates of McIntyre, fellow guitarist Chance McColl, bassist Chuck Wiles, and drummer Cayce Buttrey, the album is a clarion for modern enthusiasts who’ve maintained faith in guitar heroes and validation of cathartic, rib-rattling rock. It’s a record to swear by.
AI- Let’s jump into the brand new album proper! We teased it a little bit the last time we talked! Somethin’ that I was thinkin’ about as I was gettin’ ready for this, the personnel for this record, this is the first time on an album that you’ve had the same lineup that you’ll also be out playing live with. I think the first time since at least the three-piece days? Did you realize that?
AM- Yeah, kind of? The lineup has been evolving in some ways constantly, so we’ll put out a record that captures what that lineup is, and then a year and a half later or whatever, it’s different folks– except for me and Chance! I feel like Freedom was pretty close. We had a lot o’ guest drummers on that record, but it was mostly Dwayne [Jones]. We had me and Jon [Lee] playing bass on Freedom and then it was Jon live. That’s an interesting point. Overall, yeah, you’re right!
“Hot Rod”, “Break Your Heart”, “Drive All Night”, “Thunderboogie”… The car as a symbol– for you and for rock n’ roll in general– of freedom. You covered that quite literally on Freedom, and another point I was considering is the idea of the car song. Do you feel like it’s being threatened with obsolescence? In the 21st Century, people are tryin’ to move away from that perceived power of the muscle car, but there’s a romanticism about it that you deal with throughout the fourth album. Do you see that as something that’s leaving rock n’ roll or fading away?
Maybe. I’m not seeing any shifts here in Atlanta which is “Land of the Muscle Cars!” Every young man has a Challenger or a Charger here or one of the new Mustangs– it’s almost like a competition here to hand out muscle cars! But there’s a whole lot of tropes in rock n’ roll that just kinda don’t work anymore. I’m just remembering the idea of Mike Love in the Beach Boys saying don’t eff with the formula– let’s keep it about girls and cars! Chuck Berry, obviously, girls and cars! It’s a fun thing for me to return to and in my case– and I feel like on this record, particularly– a lot o’ the time, that trope is done in a way that you don’t really expect.
In “Drive All Night”, we’ve retreated to the car just to have a safe place to just be instead of being in an abusive relationship or the potential for violence if you go back home. It’s safer to drive around in the car and listen to music and look at the sky and the clouds at night.
I’m glad you brought up that haven of the car. First time I listened to “Fading Song”, I thought it was a breakup song, but then goin’ back a couple o’ times, the imagery, the sensory descriptions, it really felt more like childhood. There’s a car in that song, but it’s taking someone away and dealing with that abandonment. That line, “A look in your eyes like you were already late…” Was that a song about childhood?
It is a song about that liminal space between, “Hey, here’s the relationship and it’s good…” It’s not necessarily a breakup song, it’s not necessarily a childhood coming-of-age, but it’s that weird in-between feeling where you know something has to change, like the chapter you’re reading is about to end. That last verse has a little reference to running into somebody in the grocery store some months later in the fluorescent light– a little wave to that other person. And it could be yourself. It could be your next self after having moved on.
There’s fifteen songs [on The Pinx]. I watched your interview with Anne Estella and when you got to talkin’ about the number of tracks on the album– that will be a double LP when the vinyl comes along– you actually mentioned that it was Chance who was the biggest champion of keepin’ it beefed up, of not cutting it down in order to fit on one record. So you had initially considered doing nine to ten songs as opposed to fifteen?
Well, I wanted to do ten to twelve. To me, that’s a record– unless you wanna go the route of having it be this massive double album, which obviously I’ve done before in StoneRider. But I’m also a big believer in concise statements. Chance comes in and he’s basically got a presentation! He showed us Donda, which is some crazy, two-hour-long record by Kanye West! It’s just this massive record, and he pointed out that there actually is a modern precedent that we’re headed toward longer albums, which you never woulda thought just five years ago as it was like, “Oh no, the album’s dead. It’s all about singles now.”
There’s a definite belief that because of the pandemic and people being forced indoors– or at least home, grounded to some extent– that they were picking up on the idea of the album, a cohesive thought of a project, more than they have in years because they actually had the time to sit down and devote to it.
Exactly! Sit down and listen to a record! I wasn’t super duper invested in “the record has to be a certain length”, I was just chasing good songs. I took a couple o’ songs off the table that I was like, “Okay, if nobody’s gonna come along and say so, I’m just gonna say that these two of my songs need to go, otherwise, I feel like all of this is unimpeachable. Definitely some of our best songwriting.”
Tell me about that part of it– being able to have that conversation as a band and being able to make decisions as a group.
And you have to! You can’t just walk all over somebody just because you’ve got a different opinion. I was more than happy to provide a butt-load of material and Chance was really adamant that this needs to be a huge record in every sense of the word.
When you do a double LP– and I know some artists that have done this– you almost have an opportunity to create two different works. Do you feel like you’ve done that or do you feel like there’s a whole theme running from A to D side?
When I make a double LP– and I can say that I’ve thought about this before in creating one with StoneRider– I make four sides, that’s how I do it. I’ll have the invigorating rocker, the hit single, a song to get your body movin’… I don’t wanna say dance-oriented because that’s the wrong connotation, but part of the point of music is to make people dance. I’m not gonna apologize for that– that’s just a fact! We’ve got the rocker, single, dance, and then somethin’ that’s a little weird for flavor, like we’re adding some seasoning to the pot. We just did that four times!
Let’s talk about weird… “Robbing Season” has gotta be one of the strangest songs on the album, and really one of the strangest songs you’ve ever recorded. Tell me about that one.
I feel like it’s a cousin of the work that I did on Black Planet. Lyrically, just a grab bag of everything that was in the public consciousness at the time that I wrote it. Anybody who went through the pandemic and watched Tiger King and watched any political television– there’s all this weird stuff floating around. Weird time for our country, weird time for our planet, and I figured, “Hey, let’s dance to it!”
I feel like “Hands Out” and “I Object” also fall into that category of songwriting.
Definitely “Hands Out”. We don’t have any idea what we are anymore or what the truth is and everybody’s just kinda got the blindfold of their own experiences on– unable to see things for what they really are. I can say what I think is the truth, but I can only view it through the lens of my own experience. What if we all just realized that we’re blind and feeling our way through all of this and have some compassion for our fellow man?
“Never Get Over Me”. That one digs into a different part of the Minneapolis sound you’re so enamored with. There’s elements of The Replacements and maybe a more pop Husker Du element as well.
Maybe. What I was thinkin’ was Big Star, and then you filter that through the guy that just made this kind of Minneapolis sound-type record! I can claim whatever influences I want– that doesn’t mean that’s what it sounds like. And I’m pretty happy about that too (laughs)!
Speakin’ of which, you and your son Hamish recorded a version of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”. I was really surprised at how that turned out! I didn’t know what to expect when I listened to it! What did he play on that song?
Hamish was singin’ backing vocals on that. I’m workin’ on Black Planet II, and that’s one o’ the songs that’s gonna be on it. We had my friend [Dashill Smith] do horns on it, but we haven’t slapped ’em on there yet. And (laughs) I’m givin’ away a secret here, but another thing is I showed the guys the 3rdeyegirl version that Prince did four or five years before he died– the slower, heavier version of “Let’s Go Crazy”. He doesn’t have a clean version of it where he just does the song from beginning to end, he always goes into the next tune right around the time it gets to the bridge, so I wanted to finish that song out and say to The Pinx, “Hey, guys, here’s what I wanna do.” Everybody was super on board with that arrangement of the song. It’s just a direct cover of what Prince did– it’s not the record version but it’s the live version that Prince was doing before he died. I would like to throw that together and do that live. I don’t think we’re gonna be able to do it for these record release shows because we’ve got so much stuff to get through, but once we’re done with the record release shows, I think we’re gonna add that into the set.
I saw that you had mentioned you were working on a sequel to Black Planet. I was gonna bring that up when we got to “Witch”, but I’ll go ahead and jump on that now! “Witch” stands out on the album for being so funky.
Yeah, I was shootin’ for The Meters and apparently, I hit Little Feat (laughs)! I did my best! I wanted that New Orleans vibe on the record. New Orleans is a very important town to us, and I just love the magic and the soul of that town– much like Macon!
I was listenin’ to “Drive All Night”, all the guitar work on that one, and I know that you stay busy in your studio, that’s just part of your every day– but how much woodshedding do you do as a guitarist? How much exercising? How much experimentation? How much time do you spend working on your technique?
Well, “Drive All Night” is Chance. Chance is doin’ almost every guitar that you hear. I wanted almost to be able to put the guitar down for that one and just sing it. But to answer your question, if you go back and listen to the three solo records I did in 2020, I wanted to not duplicate a single lick that I played. And of course, I do! But my goal was not to. By the time I’m finishing up the middle psychedelic funk record [You’re Doing It Right] and getting on into Black Planet, I’ve exhausted all of my own cliches, and I am really havin’ to dig. I’m mining for stuff I’ve never played before, and it’s a lot of not looking at the fretboard while I’m playing and landing on notes that I don’t mean to, and then pivoting and going from there.
I don’t think I practice like normal guitarists do– it’s always putting it into practice. I see how my playing can play against the song. To me, the important thing is the song. The song is not a vehicle for a guitar solo– (laughs) with very, very few exceptions! I’m tryin’ to serve that thing that Wayne Kramer of the MC5 told me, he was like, “We need more and we need it weirder!” Really, when you tell somebody to play it weird, you’ve given them permission to be themselves unashamedly. They’ve got nothin’ to apologize for because they’re like, “Well, you know, I was doin’ a weird one!” I’m almost consistently just tryin’ to do a weird one at this point. I’m tryin’ to integrate that in. I’d say more than any technical prowess or speed or anything like that, I’m tryin’ to shoot for something I haven’t played before that better reflects what’s in my heart and in my mind than, “Here’s a lick that I’ve clearly been playing since I was twelve!” Of course, I can play that! I’m putting effort into playing something that you haven’t heard out of me before.
Do you feel like you battle between the structure of putting something down in the studio and the improvisational energy of your live performances?
Like you’re alluding to, it’s a more controlled environment, but no. Within the parameters, I’m still experimenting as much as I can. I’m just trying to get the “A”! I’m tryin’ to do a good job on whatever the assignment is at the moment, and I definitely am not hindered by being in the studio as that’s my main place for improvisation.
I saw your post about playing sitar on that Spurge single, “Teeth”, and Adam… You think you know somebody! Sitar? And what you said was that you try to include a little sitar in everything you do! I have been goin’ back and listenin’ to the album and the only place I think I hear sitar is on the grand finale, “Setting Sun”. I think I hear it, I don’t know that I hear it.
I think that you’re right. I don’t know that I dragged the sitar into the studio this time, but there’s sitar on the Sisters & Brothers record…
On the title track, right?
Yeah, I think so. There’s some sitar on some o’ my solo records. I know on You’re Doing It Right, that record. I do some sitar on side two somewhere. There’s some sitar on StoneRider’s stuff. I been tryin’ to get better at it. Sitar is one of those lifetime things where one day I’ll be really good at it, but it doesn’t have to be this week. It’s just a constant journey because you can get so… Listen to Ravi Shankar– that guy is up there with some o’ the greatest musicians that ever lived! You can play it as fast as you want or as slow as you want, and there’s so many possibilities because it’s microtonal in some parts. There’s quarter steps and sometimes I’ll play slide on the sitar and really enjoy getting to play in between the notes and figuring out that it still fits. I’ve seen Derek Trucks do that– he’s hit those notes in between the frets as well when he plays slide sometimes. It’s a fun little thing for us guitarists to get into. I know Jimi Hendrix hated sitar, but I enjoy it. I think it gives me a better perspective on other instruments.
Something else from that Anne Estella interview that really struck me was what you said– it doesn’t matter what happens with what you create after you’ve created it, the important part is that you do it. That’s the drive, right? Yes, it does matter what kind of success comes out of it, but at the end of the day, as long as you’re still being productive and creating to your taste and management, that’s the goal.
There’s certain times when I not only believe that but I feel that to be true. And then I’ll have moments where I’m a little bit more anxiety-ridden and depression’ll creep back in, and it’ll usually use the other part like, “Well, nothin’ happened with that one, so you did bad!” It doesn’t matter! Just keep creating! The point is to keep creating and keep exploring. My favorite artists are always exploring, and I’ll get bored if I start doing the same thing over and over. So why not create and have fun with it? That’s why I’m doin’ it. That’s what I was doin’ when I was fifteen years old with a cassette recorder– I was just exploring! That high that you feel when you’ve created something and you’ve pulled some sort of art out of the ether, that’s fun! It’s supposed to be fun! We get caught up in all the other stuff, but really, that should be the part I focus on. I advise others to do the same.