Feature and interview by Sarah Spohn
Los Angeles is full of people going after dreams. Models, actors and actresses, bands, musicians, artists, and talent of all kinds fill the streets. Some make it, and some, well … that’s another story for a different day.
For the city of Angels rock band Pacific Radio, L.A. is just the beginning. The group takes the upbeat rhythms of punk rock, tight pop compositions and the perfect amount of quipped lyrics and memorable rock choruses.
Started in 2014, Pacific Radio (Joe Robinson: guitar, lead vocals, Joe Stiteler; bass, Kyle Biane: guitar, Hyke Shirinian: drums), was the coming together of different bands of the two Joe’s. In December 2016, the group released their EP, “The Kitchen Table.” After a SXSW pit stop, Pacific Radio’s catchy pop rock hooks are ready to be consumed on the airwaves. Their first full-length album is being produced by Grammy-nominated engineer, Eric Weaver, and is expected to be released mid-late summer.
While sunny, seaside competitors might outfit themselves in oversized designer sunglasses, high-dollar haircuts and designer denim, Pacific Radio’s frontman Joe Robinson sticks out like a sore thumb. But absolutely in the best way possible. Never one to take himself too seriously, armed with a Ron Burgundy mustache, gold chain, retro Nikes, a trucker hat and a repeat offender of denim-on-denim, Joe spoke about his iconic ‘stache.
“Oh, the ‘stache is real and it’s fabulous,” he said. “A handsome devil on the street once told me ‘if a man sacrifices his moustache for a woman, he deserves neither.’ I’ve had it since. The mullet/moustache combination is essential, one without the other is just silly; together we are unstoppable. My style stems from things I used to say are outrageously awesome but never had the balls to sport, then Pacific Radio lit that fire, it was time. Time for balls.”
Early punk rock days brought high energy and a lack of rules for the singer, who’s fused those characteristics into the current sound.
“It was never middle finger punk rock which a lot of people assume when you say those words,” Robinson said. “Punk rock to me was energy without rules which translated well into this band.”
“The punk rock days had an element of showmanship and animosity that have since subsided but still surface when the time is right,” bassist Joe Stiteler said. “That first band was like a shooting star, burning hot/fast/bright but not long.”
“Katie” is a bouncy track with a built up that’s been compared by other music bloggers to the Smashing Pumpkins “Bury Me,” and “The Plan” by Nada Surf – you know the kind.. the seemingly already perfect song that somehow kicks it into high gear and just blows your mind on a whole new level. The catchy tune even has its own unofficial dance, Robinson jokes.
“Start with a 1 loose arm/ 1 drink in hand side step. Like your mom at weddings,” he said. “Build into a Jane Fonda run in place, not too wild, moderately controlled. Slam drink. More running. During the breakdown you should land with your feet at shoulder width apart, hips rocking, reach out and grab an imaginary door knob, turn it, and pull it back to your hips. Do this multiple times. When the song erupts into the final chorus you’ll be so emotionally overwhelmed you’ll black out and nothing is wrong in a blackout. That’s how I see it. Boom.”
“Kitchen Table” is one of those tracks that you can’t help but give 10/10 for solely because of the “na na na na” chorus (see The Beatles “Hey Jude,” Blink 182’s “All the Small Things”). Its retro references to tape decks deserves throwback street cred, and the classic “F*** you” seals the ‘punk rock’ deal.
Going into the studio to record their new material alongside Eric Weaver, the band took to experimenting and twisting and toying with songs, many of which will be surprises on the full length album.
“The studio is a huge playground for us,” Kyle said. “We are all pretty picky guys that don’t settle easily. We have spent countless hours trying to reinvent guitar tones/ percussion effects/ bass sounds etc., that sometimes just get abandoned. It is all about learning and developing though.”
“Our producer, Eric Weaver, is incredibly patient and detail oriented. He really has made it possible not only for all of our weird ideas to be heard, but fully executed and exercised before final judgment. Because of this, we have a ton of creative freedom and understanding while making a record. All in all the being in the studio with this band is always full of adventure and typically full of bad jokes and weird sounds.”
For now, the guys are playing high energy shows in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco into May before sharing stages with Bottlerock’s big names: Foo Fighters, Maroon 5 and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. “It is super humbling just to be sharing a flyer with some of those names,” Kyle said. “We are really excited for it.”