Joaquin Pastor, lead singer of the self-described “art-rockers” James Supercave, chatted with us before their set on Sept. 5 at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. From the back of the venue, overlooking Berkeley’s Campanile and with views of all of San Francisco, we discussed the band’s future, acting in commercials, and Mexican food.
SF Culture Shock: What was the last show you went to as a fan?
Joaquin Pastor: Let me think of a good one. I just saw Interpol play at a 400-person venue so that was pretty special. That was a pretty righteous evening.
SFCS: Your EP came out in March, what’s changed since then?
JP: We’ve been recording a lot. We’re going to be putting out an LP pretty soon but there’s no set date for it.
SFCS: Do you have a favorite song on the EP?
JP: I like "The Afternoon." It’s the most recent so that’s probably my favorite right now.
SFCS: Are you writing new songs for the LP?
JP: Yeah! We’re always writing. We’re probably looking at producing about 20 or so songs for record.
SFCS: Where are you right now in that process?
JP: Everything is in varying stages of completion. It’s hard to say, but we’re probably a couple to a few months away from being completely finished.
SFCS: What was the process in making the EP like?
JP: We jumped into co-production with Gus Seyffert, who used to play with The Black Keys, and is actually playing live right now with Beck. His studio is stacked to the brim. You’re just up to your neck in vintage gear. We got about half of it done there and then half of it done at my house.
SFCS: You have a studio?
JP: Yeah, more or less [laughs]. It’s always building.
SFCS: How would you describe your genre?
JP: I think we fit into art rock. But I usually just call it pop.
SFCS: Do you feel like there are any misconceptions about calling your music pop?
JP: I hope not! [Laughs] I’d like it to be pop because I think that we have some experimental tendencies. We’re trying to connect with people.
SFCS: Have you opened up for The Head and the Heart before?
JP: Yeah. Really, really nice guys. We played in Arizona and San Diego with them. We played a night in Arizona where these monsoons happened, it was crazy.
SFCS: Was it an outdoor show?
JP: No it was indoors, but the line outside of the door got completely drenched before they came in so everybody had to be let in early because the kids were gonna get pneumonia! [Laughs] And then Pat and Richie [bandmates] actually had to drive home to LA that night which was absolutely insane and they almost died in a bunch of monsoons, it was crazy. We’re glad they’re still with us [laughs].
SFCS: What’s most important to you in a live show?
JP: Feelings. Everybody needs to feel something. I like sharp noise, but if it’s not communicating it doesn't matter how sharp things are.
SFCS: Being musicians from Echo Park, do you have any Echo Park neighbors that you like to work with?
JP: Yeah, all my friends are making music over there. People that come to mind: So Many Wizards, Gothic Tropic, Body Parts, Soviet Red.
SFCS:Are you originally from LA?
JP: I was born in LA, but I grew up in Santa Cruz.
SFCS: Then you attended UCLA. What did you study?
SFCS: When did you make the switch from theater to music?
JP: I was playing music during college, but it wasn’t until after I graduated that I started taking it really seriously.
SFCS: What jobs did you have before dedicating yourself to music?
JP: Mostly I’ve been able to survive by acting in commercials. I went to school for directing and acting. It’s something I got into during and after school, but I’ve really taken my foot off the gas on that.
SFCS: Have you been in any commercials you’re proud of?
JP: Absolutely not [laughs].
SFCS: If you had to cover a song tonight, what would you cover?
JP: We’re going to cover a song tonight — “Twice” by Little Dragon.
SFCS: If you could take credit for any song ever written, what would it be?
JP: I’ll take "Starman" off of Bowie’s hands I guess.
SFCS: If you have a day off in a city, where do you like to go explore?
JP: With this crew, we hit museums and food equally. Both of those things are very high priorities in our lives.
SFCS: What have been some of the best between food and museums?
JP: The best place for museums unexpectedly was Dallas, which had an amazing surrealist museum. Also the Rothko Chapel in Houston. Houston is full of amazing museums; you would not expect it.
SFCS: Where have been your favorite food places?
JP: Actually, San Francisco. There’s a place El Farolito. That burrito place — we all die for that place.
SFCS: If you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?
JP: A thermometer, [pauses] to make sure I’m not too hot.
SFCS: What’s your dream gig?
JP: Wow, I don’t know! This is about as close to dream as I’ve gotten. I suppose I should just start dreaming bigger, but this feels really cool.
Photo by Sam Engel