Big Pink makes its way to America

When Milo Cordell announced his departure from British electronic duo The Big Pink, his bandmate Robbie Furze was initially uncertain about how to proceed.

But one afternoon, he heard his wife, Lady Mary Charteris, singing along to the car radio, and promptly promoted her to co-vocalist.

“Who would’ve thought that she had this amazing voice?” says Furze, who brings his reinvigorated outfit to The City this week.

Charteris — who had worked the merchandise table and lighting on tour — makes her official debut on The Big Pink’s new EP “Empire Underground,” textural tracks like “Decoy,” “Beautiful Criminal” and the title cut, her voice wreathing her husband’s with grace.

“Milo never really considered himself a musician; he was more of a born producer, and that was our dynamic,” says vocalist Furze. “So when he decided to leave, it was really scary. I didn’t know how The Big Pink was going to evolve.”

In Britain, the aristocratic Charteris — the modeling/DJ daughter of Lord Neidpath and Catherine Guinness, both trepanners who actually have holes drilled in their heads — was a pop-culture celebrity long before her 2012 wedding to Furze.

The nuptials were held at the family’s ancestral Stanway House mansion, with an all-star guest list that included Lilly Allen, Jerry Hall, Kiera Knightley, Sean Lennon (as wedding photographer and church organist), and Florence Welch, who sang The Cure’s “Love Song” at the ceremony.

That fame is why the couple relocated to more anonymous Los Angeles in September.

“In England, people are actually quite damning of any kind of notoriety,” says Furze. “So my wife is enjoying a new freedom in California, and in America, as a whole, and finding her feet with music and the band. Besides, she’s the least class-conscious person I’ve ever met.”

To road-test his optimistic new material, he set up a residency at local nightclub The Echo. “We played as The Big Pink, but there wasn’t a lot of pressure. And it went down really well – the songs did translate, thank God,” he says.

During post-Cordell uncertainty two years ago, Furze received encouragement from UK stars like Ian Brown, Noel Gallagher and The Kills, who invited The Big Pink to open its upcoming tour. “Everybody’s been really positive about me continuing as an artist, and Mary’s involvement,” he says. “So I’ve gotten that sense of confidence back, and it’s carried over into our new sound.”


The Big Pink
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. April 22
Tickets: $15 to $17
Contact: (415) 861-2011,

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