After Edwin Paroissien was laid off from his job as a specialty-food distributor, he lived in his basement for two months. This may sound like the beginning of a downward spiral (or a Judd Apatow movie), but the guitarist did not spend his days in his underwear watching cartoons. In the depths of that moldy room, rock-'n'-roll magic was being made.
"I started recording all sorts of things in my basement without any particular focus or goal," he says. "But after a couple of months, it became apparent there was a new record in this."
Paroissien credits his period of joblessness to the creative spark that helped turn his band, then called Little Beirut, into Pacific Mean Time. As Paroissien dealt with his personal existential crisis, the group—rounded out by singer-guitarist Hamilton Sims and bassist John Hulcher—found its songs drifting from the guitar-driven pop that initially inspired them and heading in a spacier direction.
"We made a plan for the type of record we wanted to make—something subtle and textured, dreamy and good for spacing out to," Paroissien says. "Not more power pop. That gave us the sense that it was essentially a new band."
He says Pacific Mean Time is "mellower and sexier" than Little Beirut, "with a more subtle approach." Inspired by the somber freak pop of Sparklehorse and the sound of '90s college radio, the band's self-titled debut teeters between folksy church hymns and bass-heavy jams. From the haunting sing-along of "Straight Shot (Towards the Sun)" to the banjo-laden dance number "Minutes to Midnight," Pacific Mean Time is a diverse, sonically tight record, intensely versatile and vibrant enough to restore faith in the waning indie-pop genre. But the band hasn't completely severed its roots: The songs are still catchy enough for the CMJ charts, which Little Beirut was no stranger to.
Now, with the album out, Pacific Mean Time is finally emerging from the basement, and looking to play as many shows as possible.
"We've remained excited about our record throughout the process of getting it out," Paroissien says, "so, time to perform it!"
SEE IT: Pacific Mean Time plays Alhambra Theatre, 4811 SE Hawthorne Blvd., with the My Oh Mys and Young Vienna, on Friday, June 6. 9 pm. Free. 21 .