Are you alright? Or are you all right?
Pow Pow Family Band knows that all is right when they’re playing music—not just alright. You can experience this in their debut LP All Right, which will be released January 19 via Modern Sky USA. The tracks flow together like a calm river. Comforting vocals sing about loneliness, animals and life. This chill album is perfect for a rainy day that inexplicably makes you feel happy.
“As one word it seems synonymous with ‘ok’ or ‘fine,’ but to say that ‘all’ is ‘right’ is a much more enthusiastic and optimistic statement,” lead singer and guitarist Miles Robbins tells BTRtoday about the saying ‘all right.’ “It took on a divine meaning for me—I began to believe that the universe was an all right place, where energy is conserved and where loss helps us grow.”
Pow Pow Family Band started as Robbins solo project as just Pow Pow. Eventually, however, Robbins sought out experienced musicians. After a few lineup changes, the band began to include cousins on stage and earned the name ‘Family Band.’
“We started calling it Pow Pow Family Band when it began to feel like a weird extended family,” Robbins says.
Check out the entire interview with Robbins below where we talk about music, dressing up as Bob Ross and being all right.
BTRtoday (BTR): First of all, what a band name! Where did the name Pow Pow Family Band come from?
Miles Robbins (MR): I’m musically illiterate and mediocre with most instruments, but I can write songs OK. So, the project started when I met some dear friends at school who had the skills I didn’t. It was around the time This Is Happening [LCD Soundsystem] was released. We called ourselves Pow Pow, because we were inspired by that track on the album in particular.
We started bringing together people with different musical training and influences, because there are “advantages to each.” But people have day jobs and other lives and a band should never be a chore. So, members leave and return at their convenience, which means our live shows change dramatically in instrumentation from show to show. I like it that way. It makes every show more special.
BTR: So when did the “family band” part come in?
MR: We started calling it Pow Pow Family Band when it began to feel like a weird extended family. Each show we play with some cousins on the stage and some cousins living in Rhode Island. No matter which cousins you get, it’s all the same family.
BTR: What’s your writing process like?
MR: I like to write about heartache and animals. I take most of the animal stories from books and movies. The heartache ones I have to take from personal experiences. Though also sometimes I write about personal experiences with animals or the heartaches I see on TV.
BTR: What are your live shows like?
MR: Everyone in every band ever is in a costume when they get on stage. No matter what you’re wearing it becomes your costume the second you ask for the audience’s attention. So, why not embrace that? I’m friends with a wonderful painter called Luisa Alcantara—she has been a great inspiration to our costuming aesthetic and helped to shape the visual component. She has also done live paintings with us in the past.
Our last show we had Bob Ross lead a joy of painting seminar, but he’s playing bass for us now. So, we’ve been working on a new projection mapping concept for our next few shows.
BTR: Tell me about this new album All Right.
MR: Around the time the band was formed I learned that ‘all right,’ (two words) was the correct spelling of the phrase. As one word it seems synonymous with ‘OK’ or ‘fine,’ but to say that ‘all’ is ‘right’ is a much more enthusiastic and optimistic statement. It changed the way that I heard “Here Comes The Sun” [by The Beatles] and “Three Little Birds” [by Bob Marley]. It took on a divine meaning for me. I began to believe that the universe was an all right place, where energy is conserved and where loss helps us grow.
What are some themes in the album?
MR: Many of the songs on this album are about the optimism possible in loss, pain, and tragedy and how despite them we are all right. There are a lot of fleeting songs about small moments. Instrumental movements composed by Family Members and funny songs about sad things. It’s children’s music for grown up children. And it has a song about the Loch Ness Monster that you might like.
BTR: What should we keep an eye out for in the future of Pow Pow Family Band
MR: Come see November 17 at Berlin [in Manhattan].