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Pop / Rock 24/07/2012

P.J. Pacifico's 'Surface' Weighs In With A Heavier Sound

P.J. Pacifico's 'Surface' Weighs In With A Heavier Sound

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New York, NY (Top40 Charts/ P.J. Pacifico) No Love Songs This Time; P.J. Pacifico's 'Surface' Weighs in With a Bigger, Heavier Sound, a Survivor's Tale, a Belief in Hard Work and a Sense of Forward Motion

P.J. Pacifico's 'Surface', set for 9/25 release on Viper Records, delivers the biggest, heaviest sound to-date from the accomplished singer-songwriter. With influences including The Smiths, Morrissey and Del Amitri, Pacifico has crafted a confident nine-song collection, using personal experiences as a spark but ultimately crafting universal tales of survival, a belief in hard work, paying your dues and forward motion.

'Surface' is Pacifico's most cohesive album, and his evolution as a songwriter is evident on such standout tracks as the epic 'Champions & Guardians', the propulsive first single 'Half-Wishing', the reflective, winning title track 'Surface', and 'It'll Never End', a song with subtle references to mortality and to Pacifico's appreciation of life as a cancer survivor. 'Surface' also includes one inspired cover, Pacifico's modern take on Christopher Cross' seminal 'Sailing'.

VEVO will premiere Pacifico's 'Champions & Guardians' video on July 26th.
Over the past couple of years, Pacifico has evolved from beloved under-the-radar, Connecticut-based road warrior to an internationally-respected indie to be reckoned with, praised in such media outlets as M Music & Musicians Magazine, iTunes Editorial, and scores of other print, web and television placements throughout the U.S. Reviewers have repeatedly compared him to Paul Simon, James Taylor, Matthew Sweet and others, while embracing his live performance chops and upbeat, radio-friendly songwriting.

He talks about the making of 'Surface':
First of all, this was the quickest album I've ever written and recorded. Tracking started two months after the release of 2011's, Outlet. I had the opposite of writer's block and had writer's explosion. Once I had the first 5 songs written, I went into the studio immediately with Andy Abel (guitars), Brian Doherty (drums) and Dave Anderson (bass) as my band to capture the songs as newborns. We sent a couple songs out to Michael Terry in Arizona for additional keyboards & strings. That was the band, just the 5 of us. I wanted to catch the songs in their freshest state without giving them time to grow.

With Outlet, I played the songs out at shows for months and let the melodies mature until they settled into their true form. With the batch of songs on Surface I gave them no time to expand; I caught them as they were born. It was the smoothest album I've recorded to date and the most fun. Andy and I knew exactly the sound we were going for going into the record, and I feel we captured what we wanted perfectly. In between Outlet and Surface, I started listening to Cary Brothers and Greg Laswell and really fell in love with both of their sounds, production wise. It was little bigger and a little more "synth-y". My goal was to make this record with an over all bigger sound with the same players all the way through, while capturing some of the production tricks that Greg and Cary use. Again, just a touch. Just little tiny sonic stuff that make the sound of the songs bigger, not really knowing the tricks are there, but if you took them out, you'd notice something missing. That was the key. I feel Andy and I met our production goal, and then some. Along with Cary & Greg, I also got back into a huge phase of The Smiths. They were mostly what I listened to all through high school, and I loved revisiting them this past year. I really paid attention to Johnny Marr's chord changes and how complex they can be. And of course, Morrissey's melodies have always amazed me.

And there are no love songs on this album, on purpose. Not that I'm against love songs at all, but I feel I have enough heartbreak and love songs in my repertoire at this point. I've done love songs. I've had my heart elated, crushed, confused and used over the years and I feel I've documented those times already. I'm happily married and completely comfortable. I wanted to touch (theme-wise) this time around on current issues, the appreciation of being alive, the NOW, positive forward motion, hard work, paying your dues and mostly, anything can happen if you set your mind to it. Being a cancer survivor and dealing with years of struggling with survivor's guilt, I wanted to express how much I appreciate the big picture of being fortunate enough to still be living and breathing. I'm getting better with accepting why I'm still here and focusing mostly on every day being a gift. But, I wanted to not make them personal songs about my personal experiences, but rather making them songs that everyone can relate to on one level or another. Timeless, universal songs with hooks make hits; plain and simple. That's what I set out to do.

We are all only at the dance for so long and I spent a lot of it sitting at my table, scared, drunk and confused. I've sobered and grown up, and I'm spending the rest of my time on the dance floor from now on.

This album is truly the first album I've made, from beginning to end, where I can honestly say, "this is me" with a smile, right before pressing play.

Track-By-Track Song Notes, by P.J. Pacifico:
Track 1: Half Wishing - A no brainer in being the opening track. I also wrote it with being an opener at my live shows in mind too. Some people think it's about a girl, which is fine. But, my intention was to say hello to the crowd. "here I am stepping into the light" (of the stage) "i must be doing something right, 'cause here I am with you tonight". The audience is the reason I have a career and I want to give them a proper greeting. Just a fun, hooky, rockin' tune to open with. I mention the current issues in the first verse on purpose. I wanted to sneak those in right in the opening moments of the song.

Track 2: Champions & Guardians - I wrote the chorus to this song first, and right after I sang it out loud for the first time on my couch, I knew I was onto something. I love this song. I heard the drum beat and other guitars in my head as I wrote the rest of it and kept getting more and more excited. I knew it was going to be a big, full, strong and heavy tune. At least, heavy for me or heavier than anything I've done before. So, with that in mind, I really wanted the lyrics to be strong as well, using strong, powerful words. I had ESPN's Sports Center on in the background while the song was being built and I thought being a champion certainly makes you feel strong. And the time after winning a championship until the next year's winner is when you guard your title. This is the first song on the record where I mention positive, forward motion: "a way you never knew before just kicked down the front door" (a strong visual), "your everyday is no more" (a new, fresh start). "The two of us who never knew each other much" is the line that reflects a divorced couple/parents, perhaps. Anyone that has a child is a true champion, in my eyes. That's something I personally long for and hopefully will achieve one day. But, sometimes the parents split up for one reason or another, but the children ALWAYS remain their first priority and love, no mater what the circumstances. They protect them with everything they have, naturally. I admire that when I see that in some of my friends. i think it's the coolest thing. Divorced or happily together, the children always come first. And, at the same time, the line can have a double meaning as the champion may have never won before. Hence, they've never tasted success before and they are over the moon with their win. "When shall we two meet again? In thunder, lightning or insane?" is obviously the opening line in Shakespeare's, Macbeth. Macbeth is my favorite of all Shakespeare plays, hands down. My wife thinks I'm a freak because I keep a paperback copy of the play on my night table at all times. True story. I changed a couple words; the original line is "when shall we three meet again (the three witches) in thunder, lightening, or in rain?". I changed "three" to "two" and "rain" to "insane" to cater more towards how divorced parents might speak to each other. So, the tune has dual meanings to me, but I prefer to have the listener come up with their own meaning. Regardless, it's a strong song, lyrically and melody-wise. And, the Nashville tuning on one of the acoustic tracks is my new favorite thing. Bon Iver uses that sound a lot, but I didn't want to use it exactly that way. On almost every track on Surface, I doubled my regular 6-string acoustic track with a Nashville tuning guitar track. Together, the blend and sound makes such an airy aura, which I love. And, I guess in a weird way, I feel like I'm a champion for beating cancer and I have to guard my throne by treating my head & body correctly from now on. I just have to get over feeling guilty for winning.

Track 3: Something Nobody Knows - Almost everyone I play this one for says "that's a typical P.J. song, but better". It's a soaring ballad with strings and piano and harmonies and a build that I love. AND IT ISN'T A LOVE SONG! Yahoo! I love the dynamics of this song. It's a song about karma, plain & simple. And, I explain it in the form of letting a balloon go. As a kid, I'd tie a note (as did many other people) to the end of the string that said "If found, please return to this address". I was always fascinated by letting it go and having absolutely no idea or control where the balloon would go, or if I'd get my self addressed stamped envelope (S.A.S.E.) returned to me. I'm a big believer in karma. I also believe that sometimes you have to let go of certain situations and let things fall into place. I tend to spaz sometimes and not take my own advice. I worry too much, but sometimes I just gotta let things happen naturally. And sometimes all it takes is letting go.

Track 4: Surface - "I am an ocean, now looking up from below. Leaving surface waves and ripples up there on their own". That probably sums up the whole theme of the album for me. I wanted this to be my strongest album yet with the most positive lyrics. To do so, I had to think positively (as I always strive to) and remain strong. An ocean, to me, is the biggest, strongest and most powerful thing on the planet and makes up the majority of it. It can swallow you whole and roar and destroy. Be peaceful, sunny and calm on top and have a whole other world below. If you're below the surface, you can always look up and see what's going on up top. But, in most cases, you can't see what's going on below from the surface. In other words, the waves and ripples are little things in the big picture. What's below is another world. "one of us is on our way, only living for today, about to break's all right in front of you, it can happen if you want it to, for those who want to play....find your own way". Those lines were the best way to remind myself that anything can happen if you work hard. "Find your own way" is trying to let others no that you kinda have to figure it out on your own. Everyone has their own way and you don't know what that way is until you start trying. I'm just trying to encourage others to follow their dream. Plus, surface has so many meanings: you can be above it, below it, just breaking through it (with so much more ahead of you), on top of it or completely unaware of it. Again, the listener will decide.

Track 5: Lucky Bound - Jonathan Stuart (owner & CEO of Viper Records) and I have talks at the end of the day every now and then. Some of those talks are the best talks I've ever had. Sometimes they're long and sometimes they're short. There was one short one we had where we both decided that you have to be in line in order for it to be your turn. And, you have to show up. Not only in the music business, but in life. There are rare occasions where some are chosen out of nowhere, but for the most part, you have to pay your dues. It ain't gonna happen on the couch. This is a song about just that, along with some of the other things that get thrown at you along the way - i.e., the rejections. But, the rejections make you more prepared for your eventual success! And failure to prepare is preparing to fail. (That quote was taped to the bottom of Jonathan's computer screen for years, and I find myself using it at least once a week these days.) I combined that philosophy with the story of the grabbing the brass ring. It started in the early 1900's at carnivals on carousels. Riders on the merry go round sat on horses that went up and down as the ride went on. there was usually a brass ring on the outside of the ride, and the rider had to be at the right height, right speed and right time in order to grab the ring for a prize. The prize was usually another free ride. I fell in love with that story once I found about it. If you stay on the ride (or in line) you're gonna grab the ring eventually, but there's no telling when. It all has to line up right. "keep doing what you're're doing everything right" are quotes that Jonathan has said to me during some of our talks, which kept me going. "all the best...with sad soon, alright?" are the way rejection emails sent to me were ended by people in the music biz. I actually went back and looked them up to write them down. "I've roamed the roads this country has" is kinda me saying "fuck it" and doing it all myself; booking and managing my career. Every success story usually always has a point where the person said "fuck it" and took a risk. What's life without a risk every now & then? if you keep riding the carousel you're bound to get lucky and grab that brass ring eventually. But, you gotta keep reaching.

Track 6: Sailing - I can't think of another cover that would fit more perfectly on this record than this tune. It all started when my producer, Andy Abel, once played the guitar part of the original song note for note at the studio one day, out of the blue. I was hooked immediately. THEN, i read the lyrics and it was a lock. I never really heard or registered the lyrics after hearing the song all these years. It's a very dark tune, but an escape from reality (sanity) at sea. Almost as my escape is music and the way I can easily express myself. Sometimes, music is the only way I can release things I need to release. I love the mood of the song and the different tuning has a lot to do with setting the mood to begin with. The biggest reason that I clicked with this tune and how it fits on this record, is because of the opening line - "it's not far down to paradise". Very similar to my "i am an ocean, now looking up from below" line. Both Christopher Cross' line and my line are both referring to below the surface of the water (in my own personal interpretation). There are many other reasons why the lyrics hit home with me, but I'm not going to get into that. I've always loved the song and I felt it was a good time to bring it back.

Track 7: It'll Never End - Co-written with my best friend, Craig Newman. Craig is the closest person I have to a brother and we finally got around to co-writing together. He felt and understood the theme and energy of the record when he heard roughs of the tunes over the winter. We then headed up to my family country house in New Hampshire to write one weekend, and this is what we came home with, among others. We've been buddies since we were 5 years old. We've been through everything together. He gets it. Craig wrote the chorus and half of the first verse and I took the entire second verse. "it's another year and I'm still here....I stopped trying to figure that one out" will always help me remind myself every time I sing it. It's the deepest tune on the album for me, which is why I kept it two acoustic guitars and vocals. I wanted it to be as pure as possible with no tricks. It was fully recorded in about an hour, pretty much one take of each track. Not sure yet how often I'll play it live. I'm not afraid of the song at all, it's my own therapy and it makes me smile. "I put my dream right in front of me and there's nothing left to doubt, or to live without". See....I'm content.

Track 9: Hold Me, Austin - (guest vocals: Garrison Starr) The first time I got to Austin, TX to perform, i got to my hotel room and picked up the free magazine that was on the desk. The first sentence of the first article I read said, "There are over 8,000 musicians in Austin trying to do the same exact thing". I immediately put the magazine down, didn't pick it up again and wrote this song in about a half hour. I wasn't sure if the sentence bummed me out, made me angry or made me stronger. I still don't know. But this song captures what mood it put me in perfectly. I was also at the tail end of being on the road by myself for over a month. Sometimes the alcohol devil appears on my shoulder every now and then. Having been in New Orleans right before Austin, he'd been tapping me for a while. I had to kick his ass and make him go away. "Just keep walking, I've learned...." I want nothing to do with that asshole.

In a nutshell, I'm so grateful for the two diseases I've had and continue to fight. They've made me who I am and the way my brain works these days. I have an outlook on life that is hard to explain. I cherish every day when I open my eyes. I keep telling myself there's a reason I'm still here. There has to be. Music helps me get through it all.

This album is my light house.
Pacifico's acclaimed last album was a live, solo acoustic EP, offered as a free download by Viper Records ( The songs were recorded in direct response to his fans' wishes, and captured Pacifico in concert (in a church!,) unadorned and raw. Critics weighed with universal raves: the album is "a great testament to P.J.'s talents for performing live. His voice is in perfect form..." "He may sound like James Taylor, but he writes like Paul Simon — stubbornly hopeful but pulling absolutely no punches, and sometimes filled with doubt." "It is not every artist that can hold the stage on his own; P. J. Pacifico has absolutely no problem..." He performed on ABC-TV's CT STYLE in Connecticut last month:

Pacifico regularly tours the U.S., and recently made his concert debut in Belgium and the Netherlands. He was included in a GOURMET MAGAZINE article about musicians and their eating habits while on tour:

Concert Tours Get a Health Kick By Lisa Tolin 5/2/12 (excerpt below, full article via link above):

Unless, that is, you really need some potato chips. Singer-songwriter P. J. Pacifico remembers hearing Barbra Streisand say in an interview that whenever she has trouble with her throat, she eats original Lay's potato chips. Streisand's publicist told us she has no such routine, but no matter—it worked for Pacifico. "They have to be the original plain ones in the yellow bag," he adds. Actress and R&B singer Christina Milian says she, too, has turned to potato chips, though her current recommendation is a little more orthodox: When she's backstage at NBC's The Voice, where she is the social-media correspondent, she points contestants to Throat Coat tea. This licorice-root tea made by Traditional Medicinals is another frequent request on tour riders. "You can actually feel it coat your throat as you drink it," Van Etten reports.

7/23 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
7/26 - SoNo Concert Series - South Norwalk, CT
7/27 - Darien Summer Nights (FULL BAND) - Darien, CT
7/30 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
8/6 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
8/13 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
8/17 - Bobby Q's - Westport, CT
8/18 - House Concert - Darien, CT
8/20 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
8/22 - Rory's - Darien, CT
8/23 - Willifest Film Festival - Brooklyn, NY
8/24 - House Concert - Trumbull, CT
8/25 - Cisco Brewery - Nantucket, MA (2pm)
8/25 - The Jetties - Nantucket, MA (5pm)
8/26 - The Jetties - Nantucket, MA
8/27 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
9/2 - House Concert - Norwalk, CT
9/3 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
9/6 - Station Eats - Stamford, CT
9/7 - House Concert - Greenwich, CT
9/10 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
9/14 - Stage One @ FTC (FULL BAND) - Fairfield, CT
9/16 - Live Green CT Festival - Norwalk, CT
9/17 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
9/21 - Salt Hill Pub - Hanover, NH
9/22 - Salt Hill Pub - Lebanon, NH
9/24 - Little Pub - Ridgefield, CT
9/27 - Burlap & Bean - Newtown, PA
9/28 - Private Event - New Canaan, CT
10/1 - Barking Spider - Cleveland, OH
10/3 - Uncommon Ground (Clark) - Chicago, IL
10/4 - Uncle Slayton's - Louisville, KY
10/5 - Bluebird Cafe - Nashville, TN
10/6 - House Concert - Atlanta, GA
10/10 - Fischer's Pub - John's Island, SC
10/11 - Home Team BBQ - Charleston, SC
10/12 - Smiley's - Greenville, SC

During 2011 and early 2012, Pacifico was embraced by national and regional media, made multiple television appearances, and cemented his presence as a important new voice on the music scene. Critics have put Pacifico in heady company, with repeated comparisons to such performers as Paul Simon, James Taylor, Duncan Sheik, Evan Dando, Lemonheads, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Matthew Sweet, Gin Blossoms and more. iTunes Editorial buzzed that 'Outlet' contains "bright folk and pop songs that explode with hooks," and M Music & Musicians Magazine simply stated that Pacifico "could be huge." Viper's promotional Ad for 'Fold Up Your Heart' aired on NBC-TV, ABC-TV & Lifetime Network:

Get a further taste of 'Outlet' via this music video for the standout track, 'Lakeshore Drive': Behind-the-scenes footage and interview here, via HIP Video Spotlight: Watch the official music video for 'Heads Up':

visit -

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