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BELOW THE SURFACE

P.J. Pacifico shares specifics about his recent efforts

P.J. Pacifico.jpg
Singer, songwriter, guitarist and Connecticut native P.J Pacifico has had a busy 2012, which has included tour dates in America and abroad as well as new music and creative videos.

With the year winding down, Pacifico reflected on some of his accomplishments, including his recently filmed video for “Sailing,” a cover of the Christopher Cross hit. (Pacifico’s version is being offered as a free download through his label, Viper Records).

* In May, Pacifico released The Live EP, a freebie he recorded in November 2011 in Southport, Conn., that’s still available through Viper Records.
Pacifico: “All of my records up to that point had been with backing musicians and a full-band sound and produced and stuff — which is great, and I’m into that side of my music. But when I would sell them at my shows — and when I tour, it’s 95 or 97 percent solo acoustic — people would come up to the merch table and say, ‘I love this song. What album is it on?’ They would ask if the albums were just me and my guitar, and I would tell them, ‘No, it’s a full band.’ And sometimes they’d be psyched, but they’d also say, ‘I wish I had an album of what I just heard — you and your guitar.’

“I heard that a lot over the years, and I got sick of it. I thought, ‘They’re kinda right.’ I wanted one myself — have it be totally raw and not perfect, just give [fans] a night. … I didn’t really want to charge for it because it didn’t cost me much to make at all. It is what it is. There were other songs [played] that night, but I made it an EP length. I want to do a couple more, and I might do that this upcoming year.”

* Pacifico’s video for the song “Champions & Guardians” was released in July.
Pacifico: “We shot the video at my mother-in-law’s house [in late May], and we cleared out the living room as best we could for this one scene in which stuff disappears in the room one by one. We forgot the bottle of Jergens lotion that’s on the windowsill (laughs). I noticed it, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t tell [director Dan Kennedy] about it. And after all the Vevo viewings, nobody noticed a thing, so I made a contest out of it: If anybody can find the bottle of Jergens lotion, you get a free CD. It’s a serious video, but there’s a whole comic relief thing with the Jergens lotion.”

* Surface, Pacifico’s latest album, arrived in late September, and he says it’s unlike his prior output.
Pacifico: “The first way I approached it differently was speed — the speed of making it. I had never made a record that fast; it was definitely my fastest. [My last album] was released in June 2011, and I started writing in July for the next record. In the past, I’d take songs out on the road, play them live and let them grow and evolve. But these songs, I just captured them as I wrote them.

“And the other thing I did differently was having the same players throughout, which I don’t think I’ll ever stray from again. The songs all belong together to begin with. … I kept it simple and quick, and less is more. But we did step up the production a little more. I turned to Andy Abel, who’s produced all my stuff, and said, ‘Let’s really try and turn it up a notch, but let’s not go overboard.’ We had the front-porch vibe up to now, the acoustic/Americana/alt-country thing with a little bit of pop. [This time around] we went a little more pop-rock, and I think we did it pretty well. He listened to a lot of stuff that I gave him examples of, and we talked about a lot together, and I think we nailed it.”

* Pacifico roamed around New York and Connecticut in early December to shoot the video for his rendition of the Cross hit “Sailing.” (Look for the clip to premiere in early 2013.)
Pacifico:Seth Wiley, the director, is from L.A. He was visiting the record label for a week, and he was able to squeeze me in for two days of shooting. It was all shot on the iPhone. He had three pretty badass lenses that clip on the iPhone, and [the video] looks fantastic. It looks like an old French film noir.

“Jellyfish became the theme of the video because we kept having these signs thrown our way — right down to the front page of the New York Times magazine. We went to an aquarium in Connecticut and the Museum of Natural History in New York to film. The security guards were more fascinated with the lenses on the iPhone than with what we were doing.”

— By Chris M. Junior

P.J. Pacifico on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Dec. 12: Bijou Theater — Bridgeport, Conn.
* Dec. 19: Rory’s — Darien, Conn.
* Dec. 21: Zirzamin — New York