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Pink’s Not Dead

By: Kate SullivanPink looks great today, with her bleached hair slicked back and abelt buckle that says Kick Ass. She’s more curvy andwomanly these days and speaks with a confidence that’sreflected on her new record, Try This. Two years ago,fighting the R&B-diva mold her label had contrived for her,Pink went multiplatinum with the dance-rock Missundaztood,on which she collaborated with her then-obscure idol, Linda Perryof 4 Non Blondes. But after aborting sessions with Perry, Pink, 24,found a new creative partner in Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, whocowrote and produced nine tracks on Try This, whichcontinues her stylistic pastiche of soul, gospel, rock, rap, anddisco. Don’t worry, though: As she admits, lighting up aNewport, “I’m not that fucking evolved.”

Was it hard to follow up a big seller like Missundaztood? I told [Arista president] L.A. [Reid], “Don’t tell me I gotta record a bunch of hit songs so I can sell 11 million records.” Because I never wanted to sell 11 million records in the first fucking place.

How did you transition from Linda Perry to Tim Armstrong? I started with Linda, because that’s my safe place, but even she was like, “Maybe this isn’t the time for us right now.” With Missundaztood, our two universes collided. I put everything I had on the line. This time around, it was just different. Then Tim and I found each other, and that was just like, boom, two more universes colliding.

How did you and Tim meet? At a Transplants video shoot. He said, “I’ve got some songs for you.” I’ve loved Rancid forever. It was very fatalistic?I don’t know if that’s a word.

It is, and you used it correctly. Really? Good. [Lisps] I am smart! I am special! Anyway, Tim plays every instrument, but he’s a super-humble guy. I needed a humble person around me — someone who’s been in the game a long time but is still untouched by bullshit.

So is Tim going to become the new Linda Perry? Well, I’m sure the shit’s gonna hit the fan once this record comes out, just like it did for Linda. But Tim’s different. He’s an artist himself. And I think that’s what Linda is missing, the fact that she can’t be an artist.

Did it piss you off watching her go on to work with Christina Aguilera and Courtney Love? At first it did — I’m not gonna lie. I can be very possessive. But I’ve cured that part of myself through her. I am really happy for her. Truly. It wasn’t that she was successful working with other people. It was how it was done — sneakily and kind of egotistically and just wrong.

I read an interview in which Linda said you wouldn’t be “yapping” about your problems on this record. Was that a conscious decision? No, and I resent that quote. We made a deliberate decision last time to be vulnerable. But I didn’t want to do that again. I don’t regret it, ’cause I got letters like, “I didn’t commit suicide because of that song.” But this time I wanted to have more fun. It’s definitely not a party record, but it’s not lonely girls and family portraits.

Is there anybody you want to work with still? Yeah, Billy Joel, and he turned me down. I was like [pretends to cry], “No one’s ever turned me down before! Who do you think you are!” I met him later at the Songwriters Hall of Fame thing in New York. It was a fucking acid trip — sitting at a table with John McEnroe and Barry Manilow. Tony Bennett’s behind me; Billy Joel’s on the other side of the room. I went over to him and said, “I’m singing tonight, and I want you to see what you turned down.”

So what happened? I sang “Me & Bobby McGee,” and he gave me a standing ovation.

Would you like to be like Cher at 57 — doing Vegas, an incredible diva, yet human?” Yep. I’ll probably go back to pink and green hair when I’m 50. I never thought I’d live that long.