End of Year Interview with Matthew Schwartz of Pacifico

One of this year’s musical gems was released by Pacifico. Formed originally in 1999, Pacifico’s new album, Everest, is perfect for both original fans and the newly indoctrinated. Spanning across a number of genres, Pacifico serves up a complex and engaging body of personal work and collaboration.

Talk Nerdy With Us was able to speak with the band’s originator and sole consistent member Matthew Schwartz recently about his influences of Everest, the changes and challenges the album presented, and how he chooses to let off steam.

You have been quoted saying that this album was your “highest mountain to climb.” Did that notion go into the title? It seems too fitting to be an accident.

The album was titled Everest for several reasons, one of them is to pay homage to my musical heroes, The Beatles. Their album Abbey Road was going to be titled Everest and they were thinking of taking a photo as a group at the foot of the mountain but they opted for the easier choice to walk outside the studio. This album was definitely the hardest album I have made, which makes Everest an appropriate name as well.

Everest is clearly different from your previous work. Did you go into the studio three years ago knowing that you wanted this one to be different or did these challenges and changes show themselves naturally?

I always want to be moving forward. I want each album to be a separate snapshot of where I was musically and artistically. When writing this album it seemed more dancey and different. I just followed the songs and tried to find the appropriate production to let them shine the most they can, but I certainly knew early on this album was going to be different and a challenge for me.

You’ve got a patchwork of musicians on this record. Was this an open invitation or did you already have collaborators in mind?

For this project, I had my collaborators picked out pretty much from the beginning. I knew when writing that Ronnie Martin was perfect for the synths, Andrew Linton had been my drummer for quite a while but I had yet to record with him, Ben White was Pacifico’s original bass player and a fan of Ronnie too so I wanted to include him in this project, CJ Mask has played lead guitar on my last 2 albums, Matt Tuttle mixed the last album and did a tremendous job, and lastly Trey Wadsworth has done art for me since 2003. This album is only amazing because of each and every collaborator involved.

Every song fits together into a perfect 21st century narrative but each track is its own. The first single off of Everest, “Go Alone,” in particular is clearly a hit and a subject matter you don’t see much in mainstream music. What inspired you to really delve into the art of being alone?

When writing lyrics for this album I was really stuck in a rut so I recruited help from the talented poet Vincent Cellucci. We together slowly crafted each song carefully with a mix of words from my subconscious that were spewed into demos and with real life issues we both face. “Go Alone” was mainly born out of the idea that rather than having to go alone circumstantially, we sometimes need to make a conscious effort to move forward toward our goals even if that means going alone. The song is a great representation of hardships I have faced in my own life and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

The sound and tone of the album shifts back and forth from gauzy, “Strawberry Fields” vibe to the beachy sound of a group like Nada Surf. It leads us to believe that you have a variety of influences when it comes to your sound. Were there any particular influences that stuck with you when making the record?

Well, those both are certainly compliments.

For the writing and production of this album I would have to say my main influences were The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Silverchair, Blur, Starflyer 59, Two Door Cinema Club, The Strokes, Foxglove Hunt, The Brothers Martin and Gorillaz.

Now that the album is complete and released, are there any lessons you’ve learned from Everest that you’ll be taking into account for the next album?

I think the biggest lesson I can take from Everest is to trust my intuition and that I can accomplish anything with determination and hard work. There were several parts to this album that both the rest of the revolving cast of collaborators and I weren’t sure would work out, like the sounds of the fuzz guitar with the synth, the electronic drums with the real drums, and several of the writing ideas…like the linear songwriting ideas. But when the mixes were coming in I finally knew it worked out like I had pictured it.

In a constantly hectic industry and societal climate, how do you take a moment to escape? Is there anything in particular that you do to nerd out and unwind on your off days?

I love taking moments away from my own music. It keeps it fresh and me engaged. My guilty pleasures are reading the original James Bond series (I’m over halfway through it), reading or watching documentaries on musicians, music, writing and production. I also love super nerdy Marvel, DC, and Star Wars videos on YouTube, SNL, and furry cuddles with my dog and cat.

You can buy or stream Pacifico’s new album Everest today!

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