You need a bit of light-heartedness and a tongue-in-cheek attitude when it comes to getting through bad breakups, crushes, whatever it is that you fancy calling your romantic situation. The guys that make up Pacific Radio have plenty of that attitude in stock, as evidenced not only by the exemplary answers they provided us during our interview with them, but by the tone they portray throughout their 2016 EP Kitchen Table. The alternative rock outfit were kind enough to chat with us about the making of the EP, working with engineer/producer Eric Weaver, and much more.
You released Kitchen Table back at the end of 2016, heading straight into the new year. Would it be fair to say that the material on this EP hints at what fans will be hearing on the upcoming full-length, or was this more of a one-off project musically?
Joe Robinson (guitar and lead vocals): Very fair. A lot of the songs were written as the band was getting its identity, but the studio is where they really mature. Like a fine wine in a box at CVS at 1:55am, it's everything you need in the nick of time. I'm really proud of this album and it's development.
Joe Stiteler (bass): The EP is like that first little crack rock you get from the local dopeman. Sure it burns with ammonia and death but it peps up your day for the next few minutes, making you want more to the point that you inexplicably find yourself stealing car stereos in wait for the more substantial LP, which is due out this summer.
Kyle Biane (guitar): For the most part, all of these songs (EP up through the full length) come from the same period of writing. That gave most of them a through line that can be heard on the EP and will be felt on the record. Now... with that being said, we experiment a lot in the studio as the production process goes along. So, even though all the songs are from the same period, they each develop a unique voice as we record them. The EP was not a one off musically, but it was a starting point for what this band is capable of in the studio. Along with our producer, Eric Weaver, I am really excited to look back and see what we have discovered when we finally complete the record.
About how long did it take to bring these four tracks to life, from pre-production to the finished product?
JR: We take our time. If it doesn't feel right we try something else. You can't pull the 77 Firebird out of the garage without it looking like Burt Reynolds just dropped it off. What?
JS: Roughly, a lifetime. Five lifetimes.
KB: Each song lives in pre production for a couple of months. We demo it… re demo it… speed it up… demo it with cow bell… then finally we head into drum tracking. After that the bass and guitars are added. This is when it gets fun for me. We are free to experiment with a infinite amount of over dub possibilities. After the band has convinced me that not all songs need chromatic harmonica and slide whistle, we move onto vocals. Eric, the producer, then goes into the mix. That whole process takes about 2 months, but we are always working on more than one song at any give time.
What did the process entail for writing these tracks? Would you say it was collaborative, or did the composition fall more into the hands of one or two members?
JR: I start em, we finish em.
KB: JR definitely comes up with the spines of the songs. The full band collaboration comes into play once we go into the rehearsal or recording mode. As players, we are always trying to ensure that the idea and spirit of what JR is going for is maintained. Along with that, we are able to inject a lot of our personalities and influences in this stage. By the time the song is recorded it always feels like an all hands on deck collaboration in the band.
Where does the term “Kitchen Table” come from, and what is the significance of the term in regards to the EP?
KB: It comes from the first track on the EP. JR is the only one that actually knows what happened on the kitchen table.
JR: The kitchen table make out is the ultimate flirt-while-the-party-isn't-looking spot. It makes you feel dangerous and it usually works. Not this time. Not with that nut job.
Tell me a little bit about the video for the title track. What did you want the video to represent for the song when all was said and done?
JS: The video was an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the world. We wanted to tell the story of the song, give the people a taste of the ice cream that is our music, and show at the same time that we’re fun loving dudes that don’t take ourselves all that seriously. The band that laughs together, stays together.
KB: The video has a loose narrative on the song that bring it to life in a fun cartoony way. I was really happy with how the live footage came out. I think it does a pretty good job of capturing the energy of a Pacific Radio show.
You’re working with Eric Weaver as the engineer for your full-length, and I understand that he acted as producer/engineer/mixer on the EP. What does he bring to the table for you guys as a collective?
JR: I'm sure you've read ‘all superheroes don't wear capes’. Eric Weaver does. Glorious, flowing capes. All day. Metaphorically. And maybe literally when we're not around. Anyway, he's an audio genius and a huge part of the band. In a cape?...
JS: He’s the ‘Charlie’ to our Manson Family.
KB: Eric is awesome in the studio. His attention to detail is like no other. He also really helps us explore all corners of an idea in a song. We never walk away from a song with a “wonder what (insert idea) would have sounded like”. It is a good feeling.
Hyke Shirinian (drums): Eric is rad. He brings a fresh set of ears (damn good ones) and really opens some interesting doors up for us with his unique style. He’s the type of dude that walks into a room (studio) and immediately analyzes the situation and how everything is working.
Last two questions: what kind of message, if you have one, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
JR: I just want people to sing the songs while they air drum and make out on kitchen tables. All at once. Shit gets weird.
JS: People should leave the Pacific Radio experience knowing that they can do anything they set their hearts to and that fear only exists as a product of their minds. Because when folks feel this way about themselves and their lives, they’re 98% less likely to act like assholes.
KB: Wow that was fun… I need a glass of water.
HS: I hate relationships cause they hurt.. but I’m gonna do it anyways.
Finally: what does music mean to you?
JR: You should see my apartment. It means everything. I even named my dog Iggy Pup...He was almost Iggy Stardust but I was listening to The Stooges ‘Funhouse’ that week.
JS: Music is like I’m William Wallace, all tied and stretched and about to be tortured, and as the barbarian comes over to gut me like a pig I break the chains that hold me down and swing a giant sword around to decapitate my captors, yelling ‘FREEDOM’ the whole time. I guess what I’m trying to say is; music is freedom, although if we got paid a little something for the effort we wouldn’t be pissed off.
KB: Music means alot to me. I originally became obsessed with music when, at a young age, I realized that a song could transport you. I would hear a song with a memory attached to it and I would instantly be back in the moment. I thought that was so cool! So music really is a direct link to my memories, that means a ton to me.
HS: Music is life.