Hooveriii and Pachyman Are Ready For a Change

Bert Hoover and Pachy García catch up.

Bert Hoover is the frontman of the LA-based rock band Hooveriii; Pachy García is an LA-based artist who performs as Pachyman. Hooveriii’s latest record, Pointe, just came out on The Reverberation Appreciation Society, so to celebrate, the two friends got on the phone to catch up about it. 
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music 

Bert Hoover: Are you on tour yet? 

Pachy García: No, I’m about to start. And you’re just starting, right? 

Bert: I’m on week two of six. I’m in this weird basement at the Turf Club in Saint Paul. It’s a bar, but it’s got this weird, like, clown themed basement bar that’s got Deadliest Catch on a big projector right now. So I’m watching people catch some fish.

Pachy: I’m into that vibe.

Bert: It’s a vibe, but it’s a cool spot. This part of the world is interesting.

Pachy: So, I wrote some questions down. First of all, congratulations on your new record.

Bert: And congratulations to you, man. [Pachyman’s Switched-On was just released in September.]

Pachy: Thank you. I’m always curious — it seems like a project that is constantly changing instrumentation and members around. How do you think that influences the direction the music takes?

Bert: That’s a good question. I mean, when you get different people in different environments, the results are always going to be different. And it’s cool because I’ll bring a song, and depending on who’s around then, it could turn into one thing or it could turn into another. It’s fun to change it up, though these aren’t purposeful [changes] happening — just life stuff happens and people come and go. But I think we’ve managed to use it to our advantage in a way that makes the band interesting. Or at least it’s interesting for us!

Pachy: How does that come into play when it comes to reinterpreting a song live that was maybe written with a different instrumentation with a prior lineup? Do you reinterpret it exactly as the record, or do kind of let it flow in a different way but keep the melodies and the arrangement?

Bert: I think it’s song by song. A song like “Control” kind of has to stick to the script. We’ve reworked a lot of stuff — like an old song like “Head-Squeeze” has finally come into its perfect vibe in my mind. It’s similar, but we have a thing we do in it now that’s with this specific crew, and if we got other people, it’d probably change. It’s also fun to just do something different. It gets stale, especially when you’re on a six week tour. You played a show recently with a band, so how was that for you interpreting that stuff? You’re doing everything solo and you have your mixer, so getting band people involved, how was that?

Pachy: It’s an interesting one, because the whole record was recorded on my own. I’m kind of anal about how things sound, but at the same time, I can’t expect anyone to play exactly like I play because every person is their own.

Bert: Yeah, totally.

Pachy: So it’s like, how do I find the proper balance of someone that can learn the music and how much am I willing to just compromise the sound of what it was to just be what it is live with different people? So I decided to go with this weird experiment hybrid of tracks and live bands. Like live drummer, live bassist, but still following tracks that I recorded. We’re still hashing it out. I mean, I’m not saying that I’m the first one to do it, but I’ve never seen anyone do it that way. So it took me a long time to figure out how exactly I was going to pull it off. And luckily, I recorded a bunch of stuff to a metronome, so it was kind of easier. 

Bert: Oh, dude, you’d be in trouble otherwise.

Pachy: Yeah, exactly. Luckily I had the stems so I could bring these two players in and still make it work in a weird way.

Bert: Yeah. The videos and everything I saw and what everyone said was pretty amazing, so I wish I could have been there. Hopefully you’ll be doing some more of that stuff. And the more you do it, obviously, the better it’s going to get because everyone will get more comfortable with the songs. And you’ll be playing, like, not Amoeba [Records] where you’ll have maybe better sound. Not to throw shade at Amoeba’s sound… 

Pachy: No, not at all. Actually, full circle — the next time I’m doing this is at Levitation [Fest]. 

Bert: Yeah, the one year we’re not playing Levitation. Goddamnit. [Laughs.] Oneohtrix Point Never, dude? I wanna see whatever the hell that’s going to be. 

Pachy: Yeah, right? I don’t know if I’m going to be there the same day, though. 

Bert: You just flying in, flying out?

Pachy: Yeah, basically. Flying in and driving out to Dallas.

Bert: Oh, because the Altın Gün tour. That’s sick. You’re renting a little car for that?

Pachy: Oh, yeah. Traveling in a little Kia Soul, probably.

Bert: You gotta get a convertible again. 

Pachy: Oh, man, I wish. But I’m loving all the new synthesizers and keyboard parts on the new record.

Bert: Oh, thank you, dude. Owen [Barrett] brought a crazy synth to that session that I can’t even remember what it’s called, but it was this giant blue-looking brick. But most of it’s the Juno and  James [Novick]’s microKORG or whatever that was. 

Pachy: I think this is the most synth forward Hoover record.

Bert: Yes, for sure. This is the most where the synths aren’t just like, “buh buh buh buh,” and kind of atmospheric. A lot of it was written on piano, so it was keys forward. We burned out on guitar rock after cranking two records out that were kind of a similar energy, and touring and playing with a lot of bands that were like loud, manic guitar music. And I just think we wanted to do something different. So we just got weird and let ourselves do what we wanted to do. I feel like you’re in the process of a type of evolution — you’ve introduced singing to your thing. That’s new territory. 

Pachy: Yeah. I definitely felt like I was burning out on the drums and bass aspect of my music. And not that there was anything wrong with that, I just wanted to add some sort of other elements to it. So I also gravitated towards keyboards and synthesizers way more on this record.

Bert: Yeah. I think it sounds great. And I feel like it’s normal — we’re both putting out almost a record year, and especially when you’re working that fast, of course we’re going to just want to do something different. And there’s not really someone you have to necessarily answer to. It seems like ATO’s giving you a lot of freedom, and Levitation gives us a lot of freedom. It’s cool to be able to experiment.

Pachy: Yeah, exactly. I mean, finding people that believe in you is the crucial part, and I feel we found our places.

Bert: Yeah, man, I’m pretty stoked. 

Pachy: So would you say you’re a pad kind of guy, or a synth lead kind of guy for this record?

Bert: Well, on “The Tall Grass,” which is the main single or whatever, that’s me playing the lead synth. I don’t really have a specific flavor, it’s just whatever services the song. Like some were written to be synth forward, but they weren’t necessarily. “This Rock,” which is kind of synthy, I wrote electric guitar and drums and stuff kind of Neil Young style, so I didn’t expect it to turn into that kind of open ballad thing. 

Pachy: Talking about openness, that last five minute jam of “The Ship That I Sail” — all over the place. You got the synth, you got the guitars, the blues guitars, the crazy vocals.

Bert: You got Rototoms, dude. 

Pachy: Rototoms?! An adventurous jam.

Bert: Yeah, we’re trying to get that one remixed. That was fun. There’s actually a version of that jam where we went just full hog and it’s real crazy sounding, and there’s all this wild pedal steel through a through a Space Echo, these really drop tuned guitars, there’s more piano and more vibes. But it just was so stuffed and chaotic that unless you’re like, on 40mg of THC, I don’t know how pleasant it would be to listen to that. 

Pachy: I don’t know, man. It seems like you got a 12 inch single in your hands. 

Bert: Yeah, maybe if this record really pops off, we’ll do something funny like that. But there’s also a fuck ton of B-sides. We really spent a lot of time on this record. Do you ever have B-sides? 

Pachy: There’s so many. I just don’t know if I’m in a position in my life that a B-side is something that should be released. 

Bert: [Laughs.] Yeah, that’s debatable for sure.

Pachy: It’s a difficult conversation to keep on the objective side. I personally really like to hide shit, because a lot of the pieces are like skeletons that work for other pieces, or there are things that you learn through it like, OK, well, this didn’t work, but this showed me this about this, and I could do this other thing, you know?

Bert: Totally. They can become other songs. And I think sometimes, not everything you make is great. Like we have songs that we were like, “Oh, this is for sure going to be a single off the record.” And then we were listening back and we’re like, “Well, it doesn’t work,” so that one doesn’t come out. But there are some where I’m like, “Man, it just really wrecks the flow having this song in the middle here.” So to me, that’s also super important, the flow of a record. I’d rather have six songs that feel good and cohesive and like a full thought than to have as many songs as we can pack for the sake of it.

Pachy: Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree on that. I read that book that Rick Rubin put out, and there is a moment that he’s talking about [how], you know, you could work on all these songs and then you choose the best 10, but actually you’re looking for two. You’re looking for the best two or the best five, and then you take from that and build upon the rest of it. Which is crazy because it’s a lot of work to get five songs, but ultimately it’s trying to find the best that you could do. But also, there’s so many other artists that just kind of thrive on the throwaway jams, like Can, for example.

Bert: Oh yeah. 

Pachy: So many banger tracks that were just demos or throwaway things that we hear afterwards on some compilation, and it’s like, Oh shit, that was insane.

Bert: How often do you hear a band be like, “Oh, yeah, the song that was the single was the last one that made it onto the record, and it was just kind of like a throwaway song”?

Pachy: Like they needed to put a song on the record for some strange reason, and it ended up being an insane song.

Bert: Yeah, so you never know with that kind of stuff. I definitely write with the record in mind. I get where Rick Rubin’s coming from, but I feel like it’s just different for each artist. I’m more of a record guy than a single guy. I have a harder time engaging with a playlist than with a record, unless I’m driving or something. It’s an interesting thought, but I always find when I focus too hard on trying to perfect one thing, I get so wrapped up in that one thing that I burn out on it and I start to not like it. Which is kind of an experience I had with Pointe, where we had a version of it that, I’m glad it didn’t get put out, but I was totally ready to just be like, “Fuck it, it’s done!” I hate sitting on things. I hate tweaking things. I’m so impatient. This is why I don’t home record, unless I’m demoing, because don’t have the patience with gear. You gotta be so disciplined and clean with that stuff.

Pachy: And I feel like there’s a point when it comes to home recording — there has to be a balance between the wormhole of the gear and the production value aspect of it, and the music part and the having fun part and the writing part, which I feel like is the most important part. You should be focusing on the song and not too much on the sound. There’s a lot of great records that don’t sound that great, but we totally bypass the fact that it sounds like shit because the music is so good, you know? That’s my philosophy. I have to have fun, first and foremost, and then the rest of it kind of figures itself out. 

Bert: If your song is good, the production just becomes like a character. It becomes like an additional depth to what you’re doing. I’m thinking of those John Frusciante early solo tapes where they just sound really fucked up, strung out bedroom jams, but the songwriting is really interesting and really good, and it just adds a charm to everything. 

Pachy: Absolutely. I wanted to ask you about your lyrics. I’ve always been intrigued by your lyrical approach, and I feel like you write very uniquely. I was wondering if you could give us insight into what your writing inspirations are?

Bert: [It’s] one of the harder parts. I’ve been trying to get better at finding out what I’m trying to say. I definitely feel like as I get older, that stuff starts to matter more and more to me. But also, I think it’s song by song. Like I wrote a song on the last record called “My Directive” that was riffing on Data from Star Trek: Next Generation — it doesn’t mean the song doesn’t mean anything, it just means that the inspiration came from a weird place. [Lyrics are] always the last thing that gets added. I’m never having a lyric in my brain that I gotta write down. I don’t write shit down, I’m so disorganized. 

Pachy: Do you think your obsessiveness over the music is comparable to the lyrics or not at all?

Bert: I would say less. But once the thing is in motion, I’m less particular about it. I’ll take a stab at something and then I’ll try it, and usually they’re the last things to go, so I’m working it out in the studio. It’s this weird thing that I don’t really think about, but I’ve been trying to definitely use it as some sort of therapeutic expression. Especially on Pointe — very personal words, a lot of songs I wrote alone on the piano, a lot of not so happy songs. [Laughs.] Mostly not so happy songs, but, you know.

Pachy: It’s a moody record for sure.

Bert: Yeah. I guess I’ve never really thought about it as a process. It’s just more the thing that I have to do. 

Pachy: And you said you don’t write your lyrics down?

Bert: No, I mean, I do. I’ve got them in my phone probably. But I’m not a person who writes in a journal. Which I always thought was super cool and I always wanted to be that person that had, like, a cheat sheet of, Oh, I remember I had this idea on the bus, or something. I tried that — I just found a bunch of old journals recently, and I was like, Oh, my god, this is embarrassing. I hate this.

Pachy: [Laughs.]

Bert: So you’re adding singing to your songs, and you had Prettiest Eyes before, which you were the singer primarily. How was it bringing that vibe to Pachyman? You got these serious bops, and you’re singing in Spanish and all sorts of other stuff. How was that for you?

Pachy: I’ve always romanticized the idea of also writing journals, but I can’t really get myself to do it. It’s always been kind of weird, because I don’t really know how to write lyrics.

Bert: Nobody does.

Pachy: With Prettiest Eyes, I would try to write little vignettes and characters and stuff like that. A lot of the lyrics ended up being finalized on plane rides — every time I would fly to Puerto Rico, it’s such a fucking long flight that I’d be like, Well, I guess I got time to finish the lyrics

Bert: Oh, that’s sick.

Pachy: Yeah. I remember at least two records got made like that.

Bert: When you have instrumentals and you can sit with them, especially on a plane where you’re just forced to sit there, you might as well be productive and creative. Get your juices flowing, man.

Pachy: Exactly. But that doesn’t work for me anymore. And with Pachyman, it was all instrumental at the beginning, and it was kind of cool [not having] to think about lyrics or singing or anything like that. But I wanted to scratch that itch again. It was kind of weird trying to hash out lyrics again, so I got into the habit of trying to write every day. And nothing really good was coming from it, but I think that I did it long enough that when it was time to write a song, it kind of just flowed out. “Trago Coqueto” was a song about a drink, and the original inspiration was my coworker — who is also a bartender in the bar that I work at who made a song about cachaça. I was like, Damn, a song about a drink? That’s fucking genius. I’m going to try to write one. So I ended up writing a song about the about a drink at the bar that we work that he made, and it just kind of flowed together in a way. I only wrote five songs out of 10 on this record. I wanted to just use my vocals as a texture rather than a full on instrument. So I would write [a lyric], and I would sing it as if I was a backup singer.

Bert: Like “Sale el Sol,” that one on the record.

Pachy: Yeah, definitely. And “Nua!” — “nua” is literally a nonsensical word that I just made up that I thought worked. It was definitely inspired by Lee Perry, his experiments with vocals and stuff. 

Bert: I think it’s tight to find inspiration from weird places. I’ve been trying to get better at that, not feeling so pressured to be like, I gotta pour my heart out, you know? It’s like, no, man, you can write a song about a cat if you want. It doesn’t matter. I mean, we’re touring with Mudhoney right now, and they got this awesome song called “Little Dogs” that’s just about how they all love their little dogs. I was like, that’s the best thing in the world.

Pachy: That is gorgeous. Did you know that one of my first vocal experiments was writing a song about your dog, Panchito?

Bert: Oh, really? 

Pachy: Did I not tell you that? I don’t remember why — I think it’s because either you were on tour and we went to feed Panchito, or I was shipping stuff out of your house, but you weren’t there. I sat with your guitar and Panchito, and it just kind of came out.

Bert: Oh, that’s his favorite thing, just you playing music in the house. As long as it’s not drums — he’s like, “If you’re playing drums, I’m gonna bite your ankle.”

Pachy: [Laughs.] 

Bert: OK, soundcheck has started.

Pachy: Oh, shit. I think we got enough material, though!

Bert: Thank you for doing this! It was good to chat with you. I miss you guys!

(Photo Credit: left, Alex Bulli)

Hooveriii is a rock band from Los Angeles. Their latest record, Pointe, is out now via The Reverberation Appreciation Society.