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UA local act Union Pacific rolls into town



These days, it’s all too easy to forget the power of a clean pop song. For Union Pacific’s main songwriter Zachary Vito, a journalism senior at the UA, a strong song is a hooky one.

“I like to describe the songs as ‘love songs you can dance to,’” said Vito, and he’s not far off. While there are plenty of bands in town to get you dancing, none of them sound quite like Union Pacific’s take on ‘60s sunshine pop. Inspired by the likes of The Zombies, Vito and his bandmates present an alternative to locals who are more interested in volume and instrumentation than restraint.
Yet in tracks like the upcoming digital single “Welcome and Learn Love,” which will be released on Dec. 6, Union Pacific demonstrates a fundamental understanding of the emotional weight that comes from a few core instruments and harmonies, or a well-placed guitar lick instead of a solo. Even in the ways that they’re different, however, the band never loses its accessibility.

“The band is not off the walls,” said bassist/singer Prabjit Virdee, “But we’re still doing our own thing, it’s energetic.”

The single “Welcome and Learn Love,” soon to be released on Bandcamp, will not only be Union Pacific’s first widespread release, but also marks a year of investment in the project. Vito describes the inception of Union Pacific as “wanting a band, which quickly turned into a jam session.” After finally settling on a lineup, the band played its first gig in February at downtown’s La Cocina, which is also the location of it’s upcoming show on Dec. 6.

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By Turki Allugman / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Turki Allugman / Arizona Daily Wildcat Union Pacific, a Tucson band, poses at Dry River.

Although its members are hard-pressed to name other bands who might sound like them, Union Pacific has maintained a presence in the local scene after being inspired by the wealth of new Tucson music.

“When we play shows, we are playing with all of these different types of sounds,” said Virdee. “Our friends who are in bands sound totally different, so we’re not playing with bands that necessarily sound like us, but it all comes together nicely.”

“Learn Love” aptly demonstrates the strengths of the band’s sound despite the complications with recording.

“It can be difficult to capture the live sound on record because you don’t always have that same energy in the studio,” Virdee noted. However, the result, recorded with local producer Jake Renaud, hardly betrays its studio origins. The song’s excitable drumming and acoustic strumming feels every bit as cathartic as their live shows, and Vito’s guitar tone exudes the kind of wintery cool Tucsonans find themselves encountering this time of year.

All this commotion is making it an exciting time for Union Pacific, which is finding itself confronted with the prospect of follow-up recordings and the exposure to a whole new wave of listeners. Yet Vito’s take on pop songwriting ensures the band won’t be out of ideas anytime soon.

“Going into the band, I just wanted to play the kind of stuff I wanted to hear,” said Vito.

It’s Union Pacific’s willingness to try new things and march to its own drum that makes it arguably one of the most important new bands in town. No one is doing what they’re doing, and certainly no one’s doing it better.

Union Pacific plays La Cocina on Dec. 6. 12 , show starts at 10 p.m.

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