Artist: The Pine Hearts
Hometown: Olympia, Washington
Latest Album: Lost Love Songs
Personal nicknames (or rejected band names): Bruce Springsteen of Bluegrass
Answers from Joey Capoccia
Which artist has influenced you the most, and how?
This is a tough one because about every six months I find someone new that I dive headfirst into. I love that feeling of discovering someone new and having their music brighten your day. Seeing them immediately influence your songwriting… it’s the best! Sometimes you are so inspired by a new song you hear, you start to learn it, and it winds up sending you down a path to write your own song. Possibly one of the best parts of music is how one song leads to another.
But, if I had to choose… I’d say Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian. That’s the biggest shift I’ve ever felt musically/songwriting. I can remember going through my friends’ music collections, absolutely devouring every bit of them I could find. It’s basically a marker in my life… pre- and post-Belle and Sebastian. At the height of my love for them, they came to The Capital Theater in Olympia. It was one of those magical moments where the band you’re in love with is suddenly playing in your town… I’ll never forget it!
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
This was fairly recently actually. September 2021 at Treefort Music Festival in Boise. The whole summer was pretty good, we had a bunch of really fun shows, with great audiences and hosts, but at Treefort, we had a full house of folks who really seemed into the whole vibe, and the entire environment of the festival was great! It was our last show in a string of gigs, which means we were warmed up, playing tight, and grooving off each other. That, mixed with the crowd, was a perfect combo! Plus we got to watch a bunch of our friends play, make new connections, and also just enjoy the city. My brother who is an architect out of Portland has a building project going on around the corner from where we played, so I got to check that out as well. Really great stuff!
What other art forms inform your music?
When I’m not playing music, I’m usually doing carpentry. I absolutely love working with wood. It’s not a perfect product. It has imperfections and abnormalities, and you have to learn to accept those. If the board is gonna crack, or splinter when you pound a nail through it, the best you can do is be prepared for that, and mitigate it the best you can. Maybe that prepares you for the flat tire you get on the way to the gig that you’re already late for?
Carpentry also helps when you don’t have the money for a setup job on your upright bass. I’ve definitely sanded down the fingerboard in my kitchen with decent results. Or glued the top of my guitar back together after it cracked from high altitude in a dry Montana winter. Another element of carpentry, when it comes to songwriting, are the people you meet on a job site… plumbers, electricians, equipment operators. Great working folks. People that I really identify with. To say it’s important to have connections like that in my life is an understatement. It’s the reason music/art exists…labor by day, art in the evening.
What rituals do you have, either in the studio, or before a show?
Rituals are very important to me, maybe most important. For instance, especially in songwriting, I can dabble here and there, and slowly turn out songs. But if I really want to get things done and finish up a batch of tunes, then I need to set times and days, and keep it consistent. 2 p.m. That’s what works for me. If I spend a few hours starting at 2 p.m. every day, by the fifth day the songs will be flowing.
Before a show, I usually go on a walk. There’s a lot of down time between arriving and playing. I find a casual stroll through the neighborhood is incredibly relaxing and keeps me from having too many beers before downbeat. For this last recording, I made running in the morning my ritual. I do often run, but not in the morning. We were in the tiny town of Enterprise, Oregon, so every morning, I’d wake up and run past farming equipment… down dirt roads… it wasn’t bad once I got going. But usually the last thing I want to do upon getting out of bed is start running down the road.
Since food and music go so well together, what is your dream pairing of a meal and a musician?
Well, my favorite food is pizza, so maybe Bruce and I will get a slice someday? It’s a great question though, because I find that one of the hardest parts about touring is finding the food you need that works for you. It’s basically disappointing gas station food most of the time. So when you play a venue that cares about food, and is excited about the music, amazing things happen! The Pine Hearts are all about good food. If we have a place for a night on tour, you know we’ll be cooking up a storm. Each of us has our own specialty, but we tend to combine it for some amazing dinners!
Photo credit: Jemual Gardner