These past couple of years could best be described as a transitional period for Adam Lukas.
The singer/guitarist lost friend and musical foil Mark Frost to a 2011 suicide, abandoned one band name (Apteka) in favor of another (Pink Frost) and started pursuing a more polished, alt-rock sound that calls to mind early albums by fellow Chicagoans Smashing Pumpkins. Reached at home in Logan Square, Lukas, 36, talked about the decision to adopt the name Pink Frost, why ambition should never be viewed as a dirty word and the reason he’s not down with the sickness.
The name Smashing Pumpkins justifiably comes up a lot when people write about the new album, “Sundowning.” Were those guys influential for you even just being from Chicago?
Yeah, for sure they are, and I don’t think it’s a bad comparison. We recorded at Steve Albini’s [Electrical Audio] on tape, and it’s really just capturing the sound of a band playing live. I don’t know if that’s done as much right now. Everything seems garage-y and deliberately lo-fi, and I think this is kind of a hi-fi record.
Could you ever see yourselves as arena headliners?
I think we’d do well in a bigger sized [venue]. We’re kind of a loud band, and I think sometimes playing smaller places it can be overwhelming...
I’m talking in terms of ambition, not just sound. It seems like that sort of rock star ambition or whatever you want to call it is almost looked down on in some circles.
Yeah, I think it is looked down on, but then it’s like, “Why are you doing this?” We’ve spent a lot of time on [our music] and we’ve gotten good at our instruments. Some people put themselves in a box, like, “We’re going to sound like the Stooges playing circa 1976.” And that’s all they ever want to be. I think the whole point of this band is not to have boxes. We really want to go for it.
Describe your sound in five words or less.
Loud, cathartic rock.
When did you decide to change the band’s name from Apteka to Pink Frost?
About a year ago. We were getting some flak because there was a Polish band in the ‘80s-we’d never heard of them before-and they [reunited]. There were a lot of weird Polish things coming at us where their fans were like, “You’re not the real Apteka!” It was getting confusing ... so it just seemed like a good idea to switch.
Did you have to brush up on your Polish to figure out what their fans were saying about you?
I brushed up on my Google Translate [laughs]. It was mostly stuff like, “They are not the true Apteka.”
Did you ever consider touring Poland one time before retiring the name just to fan the confusion?
There was actually a saxophone player who got in touch with us and told him us he was really excited to be playing with us in Poland. He must have gotten the wrong email address, because he was like, “I’m looking forward to playing with you next month.”
Did you write back and say, “We’re excited too! Here are the songs you need to learn...”
[Laughs.] Right! “We’re going to play strictly Van Morrison covers.”
There is an Australian wedding site called Pink Frosting. Are you at all worried you’ll start getting confused emails from Aussie brides?
No. I think we’ll just get emails from fans of the Chills saying, “This is sacrilege!” [Editor’s note: Pink Frost took its moniker from the New Zealand band’s 1984 single of the same name]
You have songs on “Sundowner” with titles like “Ruins” and “Dead Cities.” Have you ever toured the remains of a lost civilization?
Detroit [laughs]. I think most American cities are heading that way. But no, I’ve never been to Pompeii or anything.
Did you grimace when Pitchfork compared a couple of songs to Disturbed in their review of the new album?
It was a good review, but that was a weird thing to throw in at the end. I thought, “Oh man, maybe there’s a song with a chord progression that’s kind of Disturbed-y and maybe we didn’t know,” but we checked out the video [linked in the review] and it wasn’t anything we had any relationship to at all.
So you’re not secretly down with the sickness?
No, but I’m thinking maybe we should be.
Adam Lukas personality test
Last album you bought? “I bought three simultaneously on vinyl: Siouxsie & the Banshees’ ‘Juju,’ Butterfield Blues Band’s ‘East-West’ and Radar Eyes’ record.”
Song you’ve listened to on repeat recently? “I recently bought [Radiohead’s] ‘Kid A’ on vinyl and I’ve been listening to Side A on repeat.”
Song you never want to hear again? “Stupify [by Disturbed].”
Best concert you’ve seen in the last year? “I’ve been to a lot lately. Lasers and Fast and [Bleep].”
New band you don’t know personally that deserves to be big? A Place to Bury Strangers “I only met them once, and they’re pretty good.”
Chicago’s best music venue? “It’s a tossup between Metro and Empty Bottle.”
Sundowning LP Record Release Show
9:30 p.m. Sept. 28, Empty Bottle
Listen to “Ruins” at redeyechicago.com