Pacific High: Push the clouds away and let the sun shine in

by Rodney Lotter

Way back in his high school days, Russ Riviere tried to think of the most absurd combination of genres that a band could play. He came up with country and reggae. Now, years later in the Bellingham band Pacific High, he and his fellow bandmates have married these styles, offering a unique sound true to their roots.
“The idea [for the band] came from “The Glass Bead Game,” by Hermann Hesse,” Russ said. “In the book, there is a game in which people take two seemingly unrelated things and try to find what the common essence is between those two things. It’s about trying to find that common space.”
That is what the band is about in many ways, he added. “I see country and reggae as two trees on different sides of the river. They are in different places, but are nourished by the same thing. Both are danceable and keep people moving.”
Although the idea for the band came from trying to find an absurd combo, the music is sincere and not meant to be ironic.
“Sincerity is the new irony,” Russ said. “We aim to be direct with our message and to be true to ourselves. Part of our message is that there is no peace without justice. We don’t want to just bliss out, we have to be real too.”
Pacific High consists of Russ on guitar and vocals, his son Ezra Riviere on bass and vocals, Jason Vick on percussion, and Jae Bergeron on drums.
The band’s name comes from the North Pacific high pressure system, which is responsible for pushing away all the clouds and rain and letting the sun shine down on our beautiful little corner of the world. Essentially, the band is about bringing good vibes and searching for justice.
Lately, the band has been working on their first official album, a self-titled 12-song release. The current songs on their web page are low quality recordings, according to Russ, and they are excited for the new release. The band is playing a release show at the Fairhaven on May 3.
Pacific High recorded the album at Endemic Records in Ferndale.
“The dudes at Endemic are really great to work with,” Russ said. “They helped us out a lot. There is a kind of running joke where the guy that was recording us said ‘I hear cymbals.’ I know he was talking about the drums, but I heard it as ‘I hear symbols,’ which I kind of like. I’ll probably put it in the liner notes or something.”
The band is now working on the album packaging. They plan to use a Kickstarter forum to help pay for the album, and invest in a new PA system so they can go on tour.
The band started around 2010  and has been booking more shows lately, including gigs at the Green Frog, Cabin Tavern, Conway Muse and Wild Buffalo. They have also played down in California and have a spot on the bill at the Conscious Culture Festival in Tonasket in June.

The band will perform on Thursday, April 10 at the Wild Buffalo as part of the Stay Oso Strong benefit, and are also competing in the multi-show Road to Rockstar local music competition (their show will be May 1) at The Underground. The CD release show follows May 3 at The Fairhaven.  For more about the band, follow their Facebook page or see