Bernie Pink Invites You to Gaze Upon "My New Face"

Bernie Pink
Bernie Pink Photo by Madison Linney, courtesy of Bernie Pink

“While the real you may not be the best you, it is the only version of you that has the ability to become the best.”

This wisdom comes courtesy of Stefan Ridding, whose band, Bernie Pink, is playing Madness on Main this Saturday. The fifth annual version of the single-day independent music festival is stacked with live art, food trucks, a handcrafted goods market and, of course, loads of music. White Oak Music Hall plays host to 20 acts on three stages, including Bernie Pink.

What’s got us talking about identity is the video for the band’s song, “My New Face.” The clip is premiering here in Houston Press, just in time for their festival set this Saturday. The subject of one’s true self has surfaced because of this writer’s read on the song and video, which Ridding graciously allows, though it’s apparently off the mark.

“So, the song and the video are pretty unrelated in message actually,” Ridding says. “The song I came up with one day on my couch as I was watching YouTube videos about face transplants. The video is up for interpretation, but for me it represents cyclical behavior and the breaking of that behavior.”

This viewer attached the occurrences in the video with recent reveals of true self, particularly how some bigots have eschewed the mask they once hid behind and shown a new face, one they’re emboldened to wear openly and unashamedly. As Ridding said, the clip is open to interpretation, so he had thoughts on this take on the video.

“I think it is all positive that we are seeing the real sides of people more and more now. I understand it can be very uncomfortable to see things you don't like, or that you even hate, come from the ones you love and admire. However, I am not a subscriber to the ‘ignorance is bliss’ philosophy. I want to see people for who they really are. I want to understand why they think what they think, say what they say and act how they act,” Ridding shared.

“Sure, it leads down uncomfortable roads sometimes, but it also leads to discovery, to being educated and educating others. It leads to change and moves away from stagnation," he continued. "While the real you may not be the best you, it is the only version of you that has the ability to become the best. You can't work out your problems unless you bring them out into the light, and I think what we have been seeing lately is a mass of people reaching that point. They are almost subconsciously putting the worst parts of themselves, of people as a species, everywhere, and I hope once this phase is over we start working on these things that are now very obviously harmful.”

The song is from last year’s album Fiesta Elementary. When it released, the Houston Press nabbed the exclusive release for the track, “Ahh Shit.” That piece was all orgiastic mayhem, but this one seems a bit more personal. It features just a pair of actors, Prescyllia Mae and James Trimble. Redding and director Matthew Hardesty devised the premise and the black-and-white footage was shot by Nathan Kiergaard, with Lukas Wade on set design and Mackenzie Mehaffey handling make-up and monster design.

“The album has done pretty well for the amount of push we have put behind it so far. This music video and another to be released hopefully sometime next month, in addition to a tour or two we still need to book, will be our final big push of the album,” Ridding noted. “It did well enough to land us a deal with Artificial Head Records to release our next album on vinyl. The new album will be an LP and we are recording it now. I would say we are halfway through writing it and just beginning to track songs. There is no name yet for the album.”

You needn’t wait for new Bernie Pink music to become a fan. You can hear Fiesta Elementary in its entirety on the group’s Bandcamp page. An even better place to catch the songs is at Madness on Main this Saturday where you can witness how the band brings the songs to life with furious energy.

“This is the first time we have played Madness on Main, but we did play Yes, Indeed two years back and it’s largely ran by the same people. When we played at Yes, Indeed it was a lot of fun because we had a great crowd. We are really excited about playing White Oak Music Hall.”

Bernie Pink performs at Madness on Main, Saturday, June 9 at White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main. The event begins at 4 p.m. and the band hits White Oak’s upstairs stage at 6 p.m. For more information, visit their website. $20 plus fees in advance tickets.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.