The Pine Hearts’ bio says, “Playing particularly upbeat original tunes, the Pine Hearts sing with sincerity and pick with deliberate dedication,” and it’s a great way to describe the band’s debut album, Distant Lights. The alt-bluegrass trio from Olympia, WA, has released a fun, high-energy collection of songs that showcases great writing and stellar musicianship. From the upbeat and catchy opener “Don’t Let the Stars Bring You Down” and the fast and frenetic “Somewhere Between” to the more lamenting “Virginia” and “Alright Fine,” this album makes you want to dance and sing as you contemplate the ups and downs of life and love.
The Pine Hearts are Joe Capoccia (guitar/vocals), Lob Strilla (banjo/vocals) and Derek McSwain (mandolin/vocals). It’s hard to believe they’ve only been together since the summer of 2012. They sound like they belong in a band together. All three are extremely talented pickers, and their voices sound great together. Lucky for us, it didn’t take them long to make an album together – they released Distant Lights in mid-March – and I hear they’re already recording a second one. I can’t wait to hear it!
The band was kind enough to answer a few questions for Foxbeard. You can find their great video for “Last Man Standing” below.
FB: When you first got together as a trio, what made you think “this is it – we need to do this”?
TPH: There is a certain sensation that sound creates in the brain … It’s the difference between why you like a song or don’t like a song. When the Pine Hearts first got together, that sensation was stimulated in our brains, and it sounded like what we wanted to hear. (Joe)
FB: Can you please tell us about your diverse musical backgrounds and what you feel each of you brings from these different backgrounds to create The Pine Hearts’ sound?
TPH: Derek McSwain brings traditional, practised, well versed bluegrass mandolin chops. In addition to writing three-part harmonies for the band, he holds it all together with solid rhythm, experience and attitude. Lob Strilla brings Baltimore rock roots under the guise of banjo. He sings a broad tenor lead and high harmonies, keeping the band even-keeled, dug-in, and well-balanced. Joe Capoccia brings punk, painstakingly-scrutinized songwriting, a lack of caring for the longevity of his guitar and a life of playing music on the road.
FB: When you decided to record your first album together, what kind of album did you go into the studio hoping to make?
TPH: We specifically wanted to record an album that was true to our sound. All of us can play many different instruments, so we were tempted to put bass, drums, keyboard, and violin on it. But we decided to have the album be exactly how we sound live. We did not even do any overdubs, except for harmony vocals. Every instrument was played live at the same time with lead vocals.
FB: Do you have a favorite song on the album? Can you please tell us the story behind the song and why it’s your favorite?
TPH: My favorite song is “Don’t Let the Stars Bring You Down.” On the surface, it’s about letting go of a relationship, reminding myself that not everything is meant to be. But if you dig deeper, the meaning becomes more of a broad statement towards life in general …We all get so caught up in trying to figure out the reasons for everything that happens in life, when we should take more time to just enjoy it while it lasts without fully understanding. The song reminds me to do that. (Joe)
FB: Where does the name The Pine Hearts come from?
TPH: The name comes from our love of the Pacific Northwest, carpentry and our humble approach towards music.
FB: Can you tell us something about The Pine Hearts that might surprise people?
TPH: The Pine Hearts’ favorite song is “The Twist” by Chubby Checker, the version where he sings it with The Fat Boys.
You can follow The Pine Hearts on I Facebook
You can listen to and buy Distant Lights on I BandcampRead More