Originally formed in 1999, Pacifico has toured extensively across the United States, sharing the stage with Copeland and Manchester Orchestra, among others. Their tracks have also been featured in movies “Wish For Christmas”, television shows “Now What?, Sausage Factory”, and in video games “Rock Band Download”.
Pacifico’s new album, Everest, released in October, was a journey for Schwartz who spent three and a half years writing and recording the album with a dozen musicians in five studios. The result is a self-produced collection of 12 catchy indie-rock tracks, filled with themes of life, love, struggles, faith, and the emotions that make up everyone in one way or another. Check the album out on iTunes and listen to “Beautiful” from the release embedded below.
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Mehnaz Ladha: Kicking it off with your hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, what really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor to get a real sense of the surrounding area?
Pacifico: I grew up in Marietta, which is just north of Atlanta. I loved it because it was kind of a smaller feel, but close enough to the city. My favorite thing to do as a kid was to go see shows or go watch the Braves play baseball. We go there now and pretty much see family, do those things, eat good food and drink good beer.
You’ve got to go to The Varsity. That’s where you need to go when you go to Atlanta — eat the greasy food. They still have car hops. You could either go in or do the car-hop thing where you park and they come to your car. They’ll say, “What’ll you have?” An orange slushy and a chili dog are the best things to get.
ML: What was your first real exposure to music? How did you get inspired to create your own and eventually pursue it as a career?
P: Growing up, my father – he’s retired – was the minister of music and education at a Southern Baptist church and my mother was a secretary. Around the house, she would sing or play piano. Then at church, obviously, there would be choir and that kind of thing. My dad used to sing opera before he became a minister, so there would be a lot of classical music, opera and contemporary-Christian music. I remember my momma picking me up from elementary school and playing the oldie station. I loved the Four Tops, the Beatles and stuff like that. That’s what really ignited me and music.
I got started in music because we had a piano at the house, and I kind of just started playing it. I started writing compositions on it and then they got me piano lessons. It wasn’t really until after that that I taught myself how to play guitar. I kind of started writing pop songs. I felt it was pretty good and if I liked this, [I thought] someone else has got to like it too.
ML: To create music, and traveling to promote it, must be such a feeling. What’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does the travel help inspirationally?
P: We live in a beautifully-huge country and I’ve definitely seen some amazing things. Two days ago, we were in Idaho in Twin Falls. I’ve never been there before and I assumed it would be boring, flat in the middle of nowhere and kind be of like a filler show. But, everything about it from the landscape to the sights that we saw to the people we met to the show we played, was great. It was one of the best shows on the tour so far because of that. I think I enjoy just being able to see everything. Right now, we’re in Utah making our way east and the mountains here are just fantastic.
ML: You just released your new album “Everest” October 20th. What was your overall vision or thoughts behind it? Describe your excitement to play it live for your fans.
P: I try to do an album like a cohesive group of songs that sonically and lyrically work together. This particular time, I was writing and everything kind of seemed more, at least to me, Top-40 radio kind of stuff. I was hearing more Maroon 5, Beck and stuff like that. I was trying to channel that, so I tried to work things in that way.
It’s great to see people you haven’t seen in forever. To look out and see a familiar face is awesome. It’s also great to meet new people. The best thing you could ever ask for, as a musician, is when you’re either in the midst of a song and you can feel the energy, or the song ends and you can hear a pin drop. Then immediately everyone starts clapping. Those are obviously the best things that could ever happen. All you want to do is connect. If I have one person that I feel like I connected to last night, then I’m happy.
ML: One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling, not only to influence people to see and appreciate our beautiful world, but to also minimize cross-cultural divides. What effect does traveling, specifically surrounding music, have on humans in this regard? How has it broadened your perspective of the world?
P: I always say that everyone should at some point not just travel but live somewhere other than their hometown. For at least a couple years, go somewhere where you’re unfamiliar with the territory and it does not feel like home. Immerse yourself in it. It can’t help but grow and mold you into somebody that has more empathy, more love and broadens your ideas of what humanity and life is.
ML: Definitely! I can’t agree any more. What other places have you lived in?
P: So, I grew up in the metro-Atlanta area and moved around a lot. When I had a full band, we tried to move to Los Angeles. We had a manager, sold everything we had, kind of got screwed for better or worse words and came back home. I’ve since lived in North Carolina. I lived in Winston-Salem for five years. And, now for the last seven years, I’ve lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
ML: Sounds exciting. What type of impact did it have on your music?
P: It’s been really interesting. In Atlanta, there was a typical scene of when I was growing that was a certain way. When I moved to North Carolina, it was very more metal and hardcore. Now I’m in Louisiana, and if you don’t have a horn in your band, they don’t take you seriously, which has been very strange for me.
ML: Everyone has a list of places that they still have to hit. What are three destinations, either work or pleasure, that you need to see? Why?
P: I honestly would love to go to Hawaii one day and see that. I was also a really big Lost fan. I’ve been to England, and I loved it, but I’d want to go further north there. I’m a huge Beatles fan and I’d love to see Liverpool or Ireland. This particular tour, the places I’m looking forward to go see is New York. Honestly, my wife who is with me has not seen it yet, so I’m interested to see that through her eyes. My favorite spot in the US is the Appalachian Mountains, pretty much right where Tennessee and North Carolina meet. I’m really excited to get there. I’m also a huge BBQ fan, so I can’t wait to get some when I get back.
I don’t think New York will offer as great BBQ as down south, but we’ve definitely got some good pizza on this side. We’ll be trying the pizza for sure. We’re doing certain food things. When we were in Texas, we had Texas BBQ. While we were on the west coast, we tried all these fast food taco places. When we are in Chicago, we’re going to try Chicago pizza and then we’re going to try New York Pizza. When we get back to the south, we’re gonna try the rest of the BBQ down there.
ML: What’s one stark difference between traveling for music versus personal traveling?
P: This is the first time my wife and I have ever really got to travel at all. When I met her, she was in school getting her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at LSU and she just graduated. We didn’t get a honeymoon or anything, so this is kind of pretty much our honeymoon. She said she wanted to see the US and I said we couldn’t afford that, but with some shows we could offset the costs, so that’s what we’re doing.
I don’t know how it would be to be leisurely traveling with her, because the only traveling we’ve ever had was to go to her parents or my parents for Christmas. Her parents are in Germany, so that’s a little bit more traveling than going to Georgia. But, this has been a whole new experience and it’s been great to show her what life I used to have when I used to tour full time. Yesterday, we played in Salt Lake City and before we left, we had a little bit of time to sleep in, take a shower and walk around Twin Falls. We saw this beautiful landscape, and apparently you could base jump at snake river without a permit. That was really, really cool to see. In Vegas, we got to walk around and experience it together. There’s definitely been time to experience stuff together too.
ML: When you’re relaxing on a beach or just have some downtime are you listening to music? Or do you like to switch up the tunes? If so, to what?
P: It really depends on the moment. Our soundtrack for this tour is the new Beck album, “Colors”. Then probably the next thing we’ve been listening to the most is the new Liam Gallagher album. I typically though am not a swimmer, so I’ll sit by the pool, read and listen to music or write some things down.
ML: Lastly, what do the next couple of months have in store for you and the band?
P: The next two weeks will be the rest of the tour. We’re going east, going up to Chicago, Michigan and heading over to New York. Then we’re going to go down all the way to Florida where it ends. We will have a day where we go to Universal Studios so that’ll be exciting.
After the tour, I’m not really sure. The holidays are going to come. I do have some ideas for future recordings, plus I have some local shows. We’re going to do a video for one of the tracks on the new album next year. There’s a guy that does artwork for Adult Swim, and he and one of his cohorts are supposed to be working on an animated video for one of the songs too. So, we’ll probably have two videos come out next year for the album.