Nashville Punks Be Your Own Pet Debut

Barely out of high school, the four-piece take their noise on the road

June 7, 2006 3:18 PM ET

With their live show and EP stirring up buzz for more than a year already, Nashville's barely legal, garage-rocking four-piece Be Your Own Pet release their self-titled debut this week on Thurston Moore's label.

The punk outfit -- sassy blond frontwoman Jemina Pearl, guitarist Jonas Stein, Afro'd bassist Nathan Vasquez and drummer Jamin Orrall -- wrote the album's cuts in a frenzy, holed up in their hometown. The quick songs, from "Thresher's Flail" to "Love Your Shotgun," even include the much more familiar title "Stairway to Heaven."

"We thought it would be kind of funny if we called it that, because that's a recognizable song," says Pearl, 18. "That Replacements album is called Let It Be, and Sonic Youth had that album Bad Moon Rising. So it's kind of like a tribute to pissing people off, I guess."

After hammering out well over a dozen spirited, guitar-rocking numbers, the group was ready to hit the studio last September. With quite a few candidates for producer, the teens went with Redd Kross' Steve McDonald -- even if they were wary of the guy. "Actually, when I first met Steve, I was like, 'Who is this guy? I wish he would leave me alone!'" says Pearl with a laugh. "Now I talk to him on the phone all the time. He's one of our really good friends."

But if the experience of choosing a producer was surreal enough for them, being wined and dined by labels was even weirder. "We got lots of really good free food and a couple of free trips out to California," Pearl recalls. "It was pretty awesome but it was so annoying hearing them all say the same thing over and over again, like 'We're a small major, or a big indie.' It's like, 'No, you're, like, Warner Bros.! What are you talking about?' It was pretty funny."

But when the crew met Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, who offered to sign them to his Ecstatic Peace label, the deal was done. Beyond being a noise-rock legend, Moore had an edge on the competition once the band realized he was one of the music fans who'd ordered one of their early singles, "Damn Damn Leash," online. "It's Thurston Moore!" gushes Pearl. "That's pretty crazy. I never thought I would meet him or Kim Gordon, and they're both just two of the sweetest people."

Having met a few of their idols, Be Your Own Pet are back in Nashville gearing up for a tour to celebrate the release of their album, thrilled its release date falls on what some like to think of as the Devil's birthday. "That's awesome," says Pearl. "We weren't expecting that at all, 6/6/6. We all like the devil just a little bit."

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