Pineapple Tours are a lo-fi band based in Tennessee, fronted by singer/songwriter Lake Markham. Originally piggy-backing via his success on hit viral sensation The Filthy Frank Show, Lake now spends his time playing with the band and flogging spikey fruit to anyone who will listen. We jammed:
FinalBoss.io: Tell me about Nashville.
Lake Markham, Pinapple Tours: Nashville is wild. During the day, the metro area has just shy of 2 million people, so you get most of the amenities of a big city, but I also get a huge backyard to have barbecues in. It’s grown a lot since I’ve moved here, for better and for worse, but it was cool to be here for the explosion. You can find just about anything you want to eat, drink, and listen to, and there’s a little bit of an arts and film scene, but that’s about what there is to do around here these days.
FB: What was your first instrument?
LM: I banged around on the piano a lot when I was growing up, but my first real instrument was the guitar. I had two guitar lessons with this guy before he died. Then I started taking lessons with another guy. I’m pretty sure he’s still alive. When I moved to Japan when I was 14, I mostly played along to my favourite songs and jammed with friends. That’s the best way to learn.
FB: Did you start out recording stuff when you could in your bedroom?
LM: Our high school had a studio, so we were pretty fortunate there. I got pretty tight with the media tech guy, which eventually led to me being able to take equipment home or stay in the studio after hours. Once I learned a little bit about it, I started doing stuff at home all the time. I still record mostly in my bedroom. I like the lofi sound I get from it. It feels punk rock in a certain sort of restrained way.
FB: How did your band get together? You’ve done music under simply “Lake Markham” (Lazurus is this searching, downbeat track and very similar with what we would expect to come from PATours) why join up with a group?
LM: Pineapple Tours started because I wanted an avenue to make music that was a little different than the stuff I was making under my own name, and it kind of took off because of the popularity of the Dade character. I posted pretty relentlessly back then, too. But I was still doing it all myself in my own bedroom. At the beginning of my senior year of college, a couple of homies entered the tracks into a contest that we ended up winning, and the prize was getting to play a pretty big show. They all happened to play instruments, so Pineapple Tours as a live band really kind of came about accidentally, but it’s been some of the most fun I’ve had with the project, so I can’t imagine it any other way.
FB: Your songs at their best are these melancholy tracks with upbeat sounds. Do you write the tracks yourself?
LM: The melancholy ones are my favourite, like Brothers, Sub-Urban Love Song and Well-Tempered. I’ve always found a lot of power in making something sad sound easy-going and approachable, because it’s the way life works so often. Some of the new stuff is a lot more upbeat and radio-friendly, but that’s mostly because I was writing them all on an acoustic guitar on the road. I’m already thinking about the way the next record is going to sound more like Outmoding, which I wrote pretty much in a vacuum without any contact with a band. For 1-800, I pretty much brought the songs and a couple riffs to jam sessions and the guys helped me piece them together like a puzzle. I think that’s a lot of the reason that they sound so different, really.
FB: I’m an alien. I’ve never seen a pineapple before. How would you sell it to me.
LM: In 9th grade Spanish class, we learned that somebody at some point in history observed that pineapples are sharp like a pinecone and roll like an apple.
FB: You’ve described Pineapple Tours as “meme rock” before. Why?
LM: I was listening to a lot of vaporwave when I started Pineapple Tours, reading a lot of Theodor Adorno and Bertolt Brecht, and getting really into meme culture and the idea of repurposing trash and finding home in refuse. Sort of like the way that birds learn to build nests out of garbage. I liked the idea that the listener should be completely aware that they were listening not just to a song, but to the recording of a song that will end soon—a product to be consumed. At the end of the day, that’s what all popular music is, and I think it’s kind of liberating to admit it. I used instrument loops and repetitive, mechanical chord progressions on the songs to make them feel like they worked according to templates and patterns. It kind of changed with 1-800, but I think songs like Computers and Did U Laugh? are hilarious.
FB: So does this make you a joke band or a serious one?
LM: Most people think that things can’t be completely serious and painfully funny at the same time, which I don’t really get. I think things are at their funniest when they’re deadly serious. Pineapple Tours is my passion project, but I’m a goofy dude, and that comes out in the music for sure. Memes are a real part of our culture now. Of course music as a commercial platform adapts.
FB: Following on from memes, I first found you via the FilthyFrank channel. Can you tell me how that came about? You were a beloved recurring character.
LM: We started doing videos together when I was new to our high school in Japan. He was one of my first friends, and we would get bored on Saturday afternoons, so that’s what we’d do. When we moved to college and things got a little bit more serious for him, I still just liked that I was doing something goofy with my friends.
FB: Did he just pitch you getting naked and covering yourself in chocolate or was that an on-the-day thing?
LM: Max Brenner’s is a chocolate shop in New York, and “Chocolate from the Bald Man” is sort of his motto or tag-line or whatever. We thought that was a pretty easy go-to for where to take the character next (I’d made a couple appearances over the years as the same character without the chocolate). When we said there were only two chocolate men left, the other chocolate dude was supposed to be Max Brenner, but it obviously turned into Bad Dade. We do a similar, caramel-covered character named Dave on our Bald Internet Man webseries. Sort of like a mirror image where Dave can’t produce chocolate because it’s a copyright violation or something like that.
FB: Of course, Frank is now Joji and the biggest music star on the planet. What do you make of that?
LM: It’s rad as Hell! His music rips.
FB: Would you ever “act” again?
LM: We’re tying off our Bald Internet Man webseries right now, which we’ve been working on for about a year. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s about time for that to come to an end. We’ll probably finish up around the end of 2019.
FB: Can we expect any music videos any time soon? I’d love to see you smashing pineapples in slow motion to downbeat lyrics beside a pool, for example.
LM: Like I mentioned before, this record, The Messenger Shot Me, is going to be a lot more radio-friendly than previous stuff. I wanted to do a western-themed music video for King Trash at a shitty motel, but it never worked out. There are a lot more opportunities for that sort of thing with the new songs, all of which kind of turn the melancholy into a digestible product. You can tell the person singing is kind of lying about being happy, which is going to be a lot of fun to write a video for: imagine a miserable dude staring into the camera, talking about how great life is. An idea worth thinking about, anyway.
Pineapple Tours can be followed on Facebook, and their music can be downloaded at their Bandcamp. Lake has been kind enough to include this short clip of the band, performing “Sober” – as an exclusive.