Pinback to perform Saturday at Merced Theatre

The popular indie-rock band Pinback will bring its mellow, moody sounds to the Merced Theatre on Saturday, something of a rare performance in the Central Valley.

While it’s not unusual for Pinback to play shows in the usual suspect cities, like Los Angeles, San Francisco and their hometown, San Diego, Merced was a stop that fit nicely in their schedule

“We thought we’d give it a shot because we’re really not going on a tour,” said Zach Smith, the band’s bassist. “I guess we’re calling it a getaway.”

Pinback has many influences, Smith said, including the science fiction and comic books the pair grew up on. For example, the video to “Sherman,” a single from the band’s newest album, looks like it was inspired by Mario Bava’s “Planet of the Vampires,” Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or some other less-than-epic science fiction film from the ’50s or ’60s.

The band’s name itself is a reference to a character from the cult classic “Dark Star.” Smith said the pop culture from his childhood would be impossible to get away from if he wanted to. “It enters our music one way or another, whether we like it or not,” he said.

Smith remembers listening over and over to the score from “Star Wars” on vinyl. The videos and album art are particularly inspired by all that science fiction consumption, he said.

Pinback’s deliberate pacing and melodic sound might not seem like it would whip up a rowdy crowd, but the shows come in all shapes and sizes, Smith said. The concertgoers decide if they want to get into the music, or be “too cool for school.”

“It’s all up to the fans,” he said. “I learned a while ago that it’s a give-and-take thing.”

“If you want to have a good time, you can’t worry about what the person next to you is thinking,” he said.

The band’s latest album, “Information Retrieved,” was released in late 2012 – the first album Pinback had released in five years.

Smith and bandmate Rob Crow had used some of that time for family and solo projects. The year since they released “Retrieved” has been used for much of the same, he said.

Smith’s solo work is done under the moniker Systems Officer. Crow’s work has carried many different names over the years – Alpha Males, Altron Tube, Cthugha and several others.

Smith said the last year or so was filled with a pretty heavy tour schedule and the two have not had time to write new music, but he suspects the writing bug will be biting soon. In the meantime, they are concentrating on the dates for their latest getaway.

“We’re just looking forward to playing there (in Merced), and hope people enjoy it,” Smith said.

Tom Price, founder of Downtown Life Magazine in Merced, is a longtime fan of the band. Price said he first discovered the group after reading a review in Paste Magazine in 2007. Price said he purchased the band’s fourth album “Autumn of the Seraphs” and was immediately hooked.

Since then, Price has bought every album released by the group. He said that having the band perform in Merced is a dream come true. “Their sound itself is very unique. They don’t sound like anybody else,” Price said. “It’s refreshing to hear something that has a completely new sound.”

Local band Awahnichi will open the show, which is being presented by RC Essig’s Love Your Productions.

The show begins at 8:30 p.m. at the theatre, 301 W. Main St. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $20 plus service fee. For more on the show or to buy tickets, go to www.mercedtheatre.org or call the theater at (209) 381-0500.