Denver Post- Lyrics aside, Legendary Pink Dots frontman says he’s an optimist

The Legendary Pink Dots willplay the Bluebird Theater on Saturday as part of their 25th-anniversary tour. The prolific band’s potential set list will contain hundreds of songs. Its difficult-to-classify blend of Syd Barrett-esque psych rock, experimental synth pop and spooky acoustic ballads has been a mainstay in underground circles since 1981’s “Dots on the Eyes.”

The lyrics that blare from the speakers while you listen to the Legendary Pink Dots paint a ragged, dystopian picture. Impressions of torture, pain and chaos drip from nearly every line.

But lead singer and band principal Edward Ka-Spel comes off as meek, even fragile, during a phone interview from his home in the Netherlands.

“I am ultimately an optimist, however contrary that may seem,” he admitted in his soft-spoken British accent. “There is a need in me to always try and paint that horizon in some way, despite it all, to fight whatever demons. But I’ve never considered myself to be nihilist.”

While they may not be a household name, the Legendary Pink Dots have proven hugely influential to a generation of musicians. The band has released nearly 50 albums since forming in a squalid house in east London 25 years ago.

When the band plays the Bluebird Theater on Saturday for its 25th-anniversary tour, the potential set list will contain hundreds of songs.

Ka-Spel’s obsessive work ethic likely insulates him from some painful realities of his past. Before the interview his tour manager requested that he not be asked about his family, birth name, children or past drug use – all obviously touchy subjects.

Still, he’s glad to divulge facts related to his band, including why he suddenly pulled up stakes and moved to the Netherlands from England in the mid-’80s.

“It was basically love,” he said. “I met a Dutch girl and moved for that reason, and the rest of the band followed a year later. I like living here, but I still behave like an exile.”

While the Dots’ lineup has shifted radically over the years, Ka-Spel’s best friend and co-conspirator, Phil Knight, has remained a constant, arousing him to insane levels of prolificacy.

“It’s almost like an odd kind of psychic thing at play,” he said. “There are (creative) moments that shock us both, and it’s something that can only come from two people that know each other that well.”

Darkly inspired album titles like “Crushed Velvet Apocalypse,” or the just-released “Your Children Placate You From Premature Graves” have helped endear the band to its moody fans. From goth and industrial types to intellectuals, the band has provided a voice and an outlet to legions of restless souls. Denver, in particular, is a favorite stop of the group, which visits here roughly every two years.

“The Bluebird is special because we tend to play two shows there,” Ka-Spel said. “We actually have quite a following in Denver.”

Fans can expect to hear songs like “Love Puppets,” “The More It Changes,” “Poppy Day” and other rare tracks when the Dots take the stage. And of course, the set will be heavy with songs from their new disc, which Ka-Spel sees as an appropriate summation of his career.

“I think it’s the best album we’ve made in about 15 years,” he said. “For me the album’s all about mortality. It’s one of those things that kind of falls together and implies an overall sense. But a glorious balance is the hardest balance to attain – something where you can actually see the two extremes.”

For all his self-congratulating, Ka-Spel has a point. “Your Children Placate You From Premature Graves” bristles with a spiky energy, melding found sounds and reverb-laden keyboards with extended guitar jams that would make Pink Floyd blush. The immediacy of the disc is impressive considering the phoned-in performances of many acts half the Dots’ age.

Ka-Spel takes his gig seriously. As with many artists, his work is a shield against the extreme melancholy that might wrack him otherwise. The results just happen to have gained him an international following.

“It’s basically what I’ve decided for my life, so if that’s the case then I will spend as much time doing it as I possibly can.”

Here’s to another 25 years.

Staff writer John Wenzel can be reached at 303-820-1642 or

The Legendary Pink Dots

PSYCH ROCK|with Orbit Service and Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots; Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; 8 p.m., Saturday|$15|


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