On the eve of the Legendary Pink Dots’ two shows in San Francisco, we asked founding member Edward Ka-Spel to share 11 Things that stand out most about the band’s 28-year evolution.
1. Exotic machines: The biggest thing has been the Internet. When we first started, we considered fax machines to be exotic; now I can chat away with friends on the other side of the planet and not have a six-figure phone bill. Of course, it isn’t all good. People don’t buy music as much as they used to, which is very hard for small bands like the Dots.
2. Disappearing borders: One of our best shows in recent years was Moscow. The crowd loved the music (mostly distributed through pirate CDs). Such a show would’ve been unthinkable in, say, 1986. We now play (and thrive) in all corners of Central and Eastern Europe and are generally treated better there than in places closer to home.
3. Cherished formats: So much great music is still being made. … It’s just sad that we need to search for it harder these days as the record shops I always cherished are becoming fewer.
4. Turning tables: I have to smile at how turntables are being made again. It’s been great to see so many titles lovingly reproduced on vinyl. Big business failed to snuff it out, and I say amen to that.
5. Tolerated ignorance: The 2000s have been a time of intolerance and ignorance on a global level. Too many preachers, too many sheep, too many rules.
6. Ignoring intolerance: Now there’s a wonderful new president of the United States of America and many of us who’d secretly like to see him be president of the world. Can we stop being scared now?
7. Related relations: Saddest moment in the past 28 years was the death of second guitar player Bob Pistoor back in 1991. A lovely, gentle man and the finest musician we ever had.
8. Elated elations: Happiest moment is harder to pin down, there have been many. … Maybe that 1995 show in Mexico City when cEvin Key and Ryan Moore played drums and people came from everywhere. … Still, I have felt elated very often just this year.
9. Regenerated regenerations: I used to fear drying up, exhausting everything there was to say, exhausting all combinations of notes we found pleasing. I’m happy to say I still feel as though we hardly started yet.
10. Generated generations: Survival. We had a choice back in ’88. … Do we go on after four members left or do we end it there? The discussion with Phil (the Silverman) lasted maybe a minute.
11. And look at us now: The Legendary Pink Dots play Cafe Du Nord with Big City Orchestra. 9:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. $17-$20 (21 and older). 2170 Market St. (415) 861-5016. www.cafedunord.com.