Pacifico - Everest Interview

Matthew Schwartz, lead singer and writer of the pop rock band Pacifico talked with us about his writing, his new release Everest, and a bit into the future of Pacifico.


I saw that Pacifico has been an act for quite a while!


P: It started in 1999. I was 19 turning 20 that year. I was in another band and wrote songs with my drummer. They didn’t like my songs but my drummer came up to me and said “Hey I like what you’re doing, I think we should start a side project.”


So all of the writing on this new album is your own?


P: Musically yes. Lyrically I worked with a published poet.


Who would you say some of your influences are musically?


P: Beatles, Beach Boys, Radiohead, Nirvana, Oasis, Weezer


Can you talk a little bit how the new release came to be?


P: I was just writing songs that fit thematically and sonically together. It seems more dancey and more top 40. I definitely don’t want to keep doing the same thing and push my craft. The dance stuff I do is still very rock influenced.


Very cool! Is there a meaning behind the name Everest?


P: The original name was going to be Fluorescent Adolescent. I thought it was perfect for the sound and the lyrics, but I found out that the Arctic Monkeys had a song named that. So then we went on a long trip to find out what title actually worked. We settled on Everest because when I was thinking of titles, I thought of The Beatles, who almost named an album that and wanted to fly out to Mount Everest and get a picture in front of it. They nixed it because it would take too much time (named it Abbey Road). I had been a huge Beatles fan and I landed on that, felt like the perfect title.


Favorite song?


P: “The Shadow of You.” For several reasons. Number one, musically it was really hard to make. I tried to write a linear song. Basically, the idea of a linear song is where you keep putting different parts of songs that are in the same key, but not together. You just sew them together. In this song, there’s maybe 7 parts and about 15 chords. It all works together, but it’s not the same thing over and over. It was one of those that when I made it, nobody understood what I was trying to do.”


So you wrote this album with a lyricist. When you do meet with a lyricist, what is the process of that?


P: So with Pacifico, I’m not doing everything, I’m not in control. I’m more like a conductor. So what I love to do when collaborating is give people the pure arrangement, and just kind of let them on their own, apart from me give their own ideas. And then when I finally meet with them, they kind of already have an idea in their own head. Then I from there say what I was thinking. So with the lyricist, I met with him, he had a few ideas for a few songs, we found a common ground and worked it from there.


What are the central themes of this album?


P: It does seem like it’s an album dealing a lot with life and love. There’s a song on there about how when you’re at a family function and you’re single, everybody asks when you’ll meet somebody. It was kind of the anti-love song. So there’s that. There are several songs about love. A song about love equality, working through trouble, finding a place for dreams.


So now a bit on you performing since you just got off a tour. When you perform, what is your stage setup?


P: It’s a little different depending on what’s going on. This particular tour, it was just me and my wife. She played synths, I played electric guitar and sang, and then we played to tracks. We were sponsored by a company called Presonus Audio, and they help us set everything up, and gave us equipment to make it happen. Typically tours before that were either just me by myself on acoustic, or me with a band.


How would an audience member feel watching your show? Is it an intimate type of show or upbeat?


P: For this tour, it would be upbeat and fun. Inviting. I think that there are a couple songs in there that have a sense of intimacy to it, but it’s not like an acoustic set. But mostly it’s a dancy, fun, light sort of thing.


So what I’m hearing overall is that you’re the type of artist who doesn’t stick to one type of vibe. That kind of works in eras and does different types of things each time you release something? Am I correct in that?


P: That would be my hope. I have a career like Elvis Costello or Beck where each album could be completely different. I definitely think that each time that I go to write, record, do a tour, or to release something, it’s a snapshot of that moment in your life. What this album sounds like is related to what I was listening to and reading about. I was reading a lot and watching a lot of documentaries about the production that Brian Wilson or the Dust Brothers were doing. I was getting into a lot of synth music. Listening to a lot of stuff like Depeche Mode. The Fuzz guitar came from watching Scott Pilgrim. Basically, all those things lent to making the album what it is. So next time I go out, I don’t know, I might be listening to something completely different.


So with all these different vibes, is there any one thing that makes each of these releases you?


P: The sense of melody that I have will kind of always be similar. And I think even though it’s not constant, the idea that I’m going to be moving forward and changing per situation or moment, that in itself is a constant.


What is next for Pacifico?


P: The holidays! We’ve got a couple of more videos coming out for songs on the album that will be out next year. There’s a couple of movies coming out featuring a song or two of ours. I’m already kind of thinking about recording. I have an album from 2005 that I never finished, I want to at least knock away at it this year. If not, finish it and put it out.


If you could have your own concert of three acts as big or as small as you want, that you think would fit with your sound and what you do. Who would you choose and why?


P: I guess I’d say Starflyer 59 just because nobody knows who he is, and he never plays shows anymore. Then I would say if The Beach Boys actually did Pet Sounds and or Smile live back in their 20’s when they made it. And then I’ll just say Radiohead. I’ve seen them like 3 or 4 times, but I would see them again. Or I could say The Beatles back together, I would love to see them all together as adults.

Listen to the EP here

Words by Matty Jiles