One to watch: Schwartz keeps his feet in different waters

by Ryan Snyder

Matthew Schwartz

Matthew Schwartz has some great advice to anyone struggling to come up with that perfect name for their band: Pick one that might land you some nice fringe benefits. He, of course, didn’t do this intentionally when he formed his band Pacifico (www. in 1999, as the name was borrowed from the title of an album by the Lassie Foundation. But a sponsorship from Anheuser-Busch landed Schwartz enough of the Mexican-style lager Pacifico to fuel a weekend on frat row, among other forms of reimbursement. “I had 28 cases of Pacifico sitting in my garage at one point,” Schwartz said. “There was so much that I would have parties and just send it home with people.” Don’t expect to just go out with names like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Rasputin or Milwaukee’s Best Ice and expect to be handed a lifetime supply of brew, though you deserve the resultant hangovers should you name your band after the Beast. It takes a good amount of actual musical talent to get noticed in such a way that merits commercial backing, and Schwartz has no shortage of that. Just don’t beg him to pen any song vocals for you. “I hate writing lyrics, it’s just so hard,” Schwartz said with a big grin on his face. “But I know it’s important to a lot of people, so I do my best to make sure that they’re good.” Part Jeff Tweedy and part Matthew Sweet with a little bit of Superchunk thrown in for good measure, Pacifico has been Schwartz’s brainchild since 1999. He started it as a vehicle for unrecorded music from his previous acts, but over time it has become something with which he genuinely identifies as his own. Still, he is far from opposed to collaborations outside of the scope of what he wants to do with Pacifico. “Pacifico is my baby and my thing, but I’m not opposed to trying other things,” Schwartz added. “To me, I can’t really control [my music]. If something comes out, I want to share it with the world.” Born to a minister of music, he began singing and playing piano in church at an early age. Like many children, he was initially distasteful of his parental directive to take piano lessons, though Schwartz says he became more and more grateful for the instruction over time. It led to him picking up guitar, bass and drums, which allowed him to have maximum input into his work. He released an EP in July of 2008 entitled Facedown, where he not only wrote all of the music and lyrics, but played all of the instruments as well. “I want to do every album a little bit differently, whether that is different producers or musicians, co-written by someone or recorded live,” he stated. Though his church upbringing has had a marked impact on his music, he doesn’t quite consider his music to be of religious nature. He does, however, acknowledge that his inspiration is rooted as much in God as it is in friendship, love and life in general. “I’m a Christian who plays rock and roll, but not necessarily a Christian musician,” he stated. He started playing with Monday in London when his previous band members went on to other projects, which prompted a move from Atlanta to Winston-Salem. He played with them until the past year, with some attention devoted to Pacifico in his spare time. He eventually began devoting more time to his own project, with Monday in London bassist Wes Clifton and drummer Robbie Adkins joining him. The band’s next full release, the 13-track Thin Skin & An Open Heart, is due in May and is being produced by Jason Martin of Starflyer 59. Schwartz stated that it will be similar to Facedown in that it will have more rocking, up-tempo material, but also much different than anything he’s previously released. “It’s going to be very diverse,” Schwartz said. “I don’t want to say it’s avant-garde, but it will have a very eclectic feel to it.”