American indie act pacificUV is plugged in for its Asian romp.
A constantly revolving roster of band members is not always seen as a good thing in the music scene. Much of that notion has to do with chemistry between bandmates, and how that affects the music. But while there are bands that struggle to find stability when it comes to personnel, the “revolving door” policy seems to have done wonders for American indie/dream pop band pacificUV’s evolution as a band.
“We usually have a goal or theme for each record, and this is dictated by who is in the band,” shared Clay Jordan, the only remaining original member in the band, in a recent email interview.
“We try not to repeat ourselves. Whatever we are working on is usually the opposite of the last record or we take on the ideas from the last record and further refine them.”
Formed in 1998 in Athens, Georgia, pacificUV has featured musicians who have played for bands such as Phosphorescent, of Montreal and Olivia Tremor Control.
In this band, the central themes and markers often remain familiar – breathy vocals, atmospheric synths and spacey aesthetics, but with each record pushing those elements into different directions. Much of the consistency of these themes is down to Jordan, who is the creative core of the group.
“Every band member adds his/her own elements, but I usually have the basic idea or music before we go in to record,” he said, before further playing down the impact of line-up shifts.
“I think most artistes want to try something new each time, so the change in sound is more due to the passing of time than who is in the band.”
On pacificUV’s fourth album After The Dream You Are Awake, released two months ago in the United States, the band has taken yet another evolutionary turn.
While the album title suggests the band revisiting its early post-rock template (releases like pacificUV and Longplay 2), the results are quite the contrary. The catchy electro pop cut Funny Girl from last year’s Weekends gave fans a glimpse of the band’s future blueprint.
If anything, After The Dream You Are Awake, recorded at Popheart Production in Athens, is the sound of a confident band reclaiming its roots while making transcendent progression.
With multi-instrumentalist Suny Lyons, drummer Lemuel Hayes and poet Laura Solomon in the line-up, pacificUV is fully realising its potential as a solid songwriting unit.
“On this record, we made a very intentional effort to write concise, shorter songs that focused less on texture and atmosphere, and more on lyrics and songwriting,” said Jordan.
“We wanted these songs to be more immediate and upbeat, our stuff in the past has been much slower.”
On the new album, which was produced by Lyons and the band, tracks such as 24 Frames and Wolves Again bear a resemblance to M83’s rich sonic textures, rather than the tumult and turbulence of Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky.
Even when the quartet slows things down, in the case of the gorgeous American Lovers, there’s the electronic backdrop to keep the song from fading into a post-rock blur. This album is a mood-setter, with layers of synths and guitars aiming to give music fans a taste of heavenly bliss and white noise.
And as a curious addition to pacificUV’s catalogue, a cover of Billy Idol’s classic New Wave ballad Eyes Without A Face has also made the After The Dream You Are Awake tracklist.
“Ha! No, we are not big Billy Idol fans, but we quite like that song,” said Jordan when asked if the band members were big fans of Idol.
“There are plenty of great songs out there that are ruined because of the production used in the song, and this is especially true of songs in the 1980s. There are many songs I hate, but if done in a new way, I might love them.”
This weekend, thanks to a collaborative effort from Very Go Records and Dong Tai Du, the band will be bringing its newly- minted tunes to these parts with a show scheduled this Saturday night at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market in Kuala Lumpur.
Interestingly, looking at the band’s tour dates this month, there seems to be a fairly extensive trek planned, with stops in Hong Kong, Taipei, and several shows in China.
So how does a band from Athens, Georgia put together such a sizeable tour schedule all the way in these parts?
“We got very lucky. White Wabbit, a label in Taiwan, contacted us when we were ready to release Weekends, and offered to release it in Taiwan. We then toured over there and in Hong Kong last summer. The response was great so we decided to come back,” explained Jordan.
“It is interesting how certain artistes tend to do better in certain parts of the world and are ignored in other parts. I have no idea why this happens.”
The “road trip” has not been easy though, with the band posting on Pledge Music, requesting fans to help fund its tour over here.
At present, the pledge has only reached 50% of its goal, but that has hardly deterred the band’s enthusiasm to bring its music to its Asian fans.
“Asian audiences are more polite and appreciative. They do not talk while the band is playing, and also seem more patient. They can listen to longer songs without getting bored while Americans seem to want immediate satisfaction when it comes to music,” he pointed out.
- Tickets for pacificUV’s show at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market, Kuala Lumpur, this Saturday, are priced at RM60 (pre-sale) and RM80 (at the door). Showtime is 9pm. Opening acts are +2db and Like Silver. Band merchandise and CDs/LPs will also be available. Tickets sold at all Rock Corner outlets or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More details at http://goo.gl/kLJ92.