Q&A: Pacific Hurt

7 May

Picking out the right band name can be a challenge. Can people easily spell it? Will they say it properly? Will it be a constant annoyance to correct people? After a few years of getting their name out into the music world, Santa Ana’s Aushua thought long and hard about whether or not they should make a huge decision—find a new band name. Making the leap, they chose the name Pacific Hurt. If familiar with the band’s signature sound, coerced with endless guitar riffs billowing softly behind emotionally driven vocals, then you’re aware the band is bursting with talent. A name is just a name. They are still the same guys that won our hearts over with “No Harm Done” (the 2009 OC Music Awards winner for best song) and most recent EP, Limbo. Now, the five-piece starts fresh. (Interview by Ashley Eliot.)

Let’s catch up with Nathan Gammill about turning over a new leaf, and what to expect from Pacific Hurt.

Ash: You guys established yourselves as Aushua for the past few years. I thought the name was catching on. I actually liked the name. It’s similar to “Joshua,” how can people get that wrong? But I guess people had trouble spelling it and saying it? What was the turning point for changing the name?

Nathan: The thought of a new name hit me when someone asked me what band I was in and I didn’t want to answer. It happened to every one of us around the same time. We had lost a significant amount of confidence in the name and ourselves. It seemed the only logical thing to do, at that point, was something illogical. It had been a rough year for us. We had been on life support via blind ambition. The name, the way the band functioned, all of it was sick. So, we put it down.

Ash: A lot of local bands have changed their name in the past year. Did you guys feel like you needed a fresh start?

Nathan: It was more like hopping tracks to us. I think a lot of bands change their name because people were sick of hearing about them. Like they wore out their welcome and they needed some new shtick to get people to buy things from them. That “new and improved” sort of thing. For us it was much more personal, and dire for the group dynamic.

Ash: Why the name “Pacific Hurt?” I feel like there is some anguish and frustration behind that name. But I could be reading way more into it.

Nathan: It’s fine that you’re reading into it. I do it all the time; it just makes me like the name more. I think a lot of people think that “hurt” is such a negative word, but I don’t see it that way. It’s a really pretty word to me. It doesn’t seem so serious. It’s not death, or pain, or trauma or a word as finite and dramatic as that. It’s what we use for minor things, from subtle discomfort to damaged pride, or it can even be used for a bigger, duller, unnamable thing. It’s a very hard word to pin down. Pacific has a different quality to me. It’s a very sweet word to say, very calming. It’s almost like its definition was built into it, but it’s also the name of a giant ocean! Where all kinds of crazy shit happens all the time. A giant body of water that eats land and is growing all the time? What is peaceful or serene about that? Have you seen some of the weird beings that exist in there? Its name makes little sense to me… but it’s amusing. It’s fun to think of the “pretty” word as intimidating because of how massive its implications are and the “dramatic” word as comforting because of its humanity.

That all has nothing to do with anything, by the way.

Ash: Is it true the band won’t be playing any of the Aushua music any more? People are going to be sad you won’t be playing “No Harm Done.”

Nathan: Yes, that is true. We’ve spent too much time holding on to a good song or two, hoping they would do so much more than they did instead of writing and learning. So, it’s not like we aren’t playing them because we’ve “out-grown” them or anything as vain and arrogant as that. We humbly believe them to be good songs. We’d love to play them. It’s a great feeling to play a song of your own that people connect with; it just makes us sad to play them. It makes us think of alternate realities where “No Harm Done” got to everyone it was supposed to or maybe we got to play “Sister Saves” out of stacks and stacks of giant Magnatone guitar cabs. And these alternate realities are just too heavy for us.

Ash: Are there new members as well? If so, who and tell me a little about them.

Nathan: That’s a touchy subject at the moment. There is a new guy [Sean Cimino], but there might be others. I like the idea of a rotating member thing, but that’s a logistical nightmare, as we’ve learned. That is, until you got the cash flow.

Ash: One of the new tracks posted on the band’s site is called “Crush.” Tell me about the meaning behind the song.

Nathan: That’s one of the oldest songs I have. We’ve tried to write that song a million different ways and it would always come out wrong. Then on my birthday of last year I heard it in my head, kind of like you hear it now and that was that. The funny thing is that the lyric is filled with all this angst and discontent, but it’s the music that ends up stressing me out a little. The goddamn drums never come in til the end and by that point they’re so subdued, and the song quietly makes it’s way to the back of a dark stage, and you say, “This was the release I waited all that time for?!” It’s a fantastic effect and I’m really proud of the guys for landing on that.

Ash: With the new name and sound, sometimes that means bands need a new scenery. Are you guys making the jump to LA?

Nathan: We’re a supply and demand kind of band. We’ll go where people want to see us. If people want to see us here, we’ll play here. If people want to see us in LA, we’ll play there too. I really love Santa Ana and the geography of this weird little cove we live in is fascinating, but we all just want to play music wherever we can.

Ash: For the rest of this year, what are your goals as a band?

Nathan: Just grow, I guess. In all ways.

Ash: What band/album/song have you been listening to non-stop lately?

Nathan: That song “Empire Ants” on the new Gorillaz record is amazing. When that change comes in it makes me feel like I’m totally alone in the universe. I’ve been listening to a lot more punk than I thought I would be. My brother got me into Crass and Rudimentary Peni. I’ve been getting into The Fall and Public Image Ltd. In contrast, new music is getting really pretty and sentimental, but there is a spirit there that is missing. Some self-assured coolness that comes with exploiting a mediocre fluke seems to be the only attitude in independent music.

Pacific Hurt are scheduled to perform Saturday, May 8 at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa with The Union Line and Sequins & Skeletons (21+); pacifichurt.com.

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