Jemina Pearl on Be Your Own Pet's Breakup, Her 'Solo' Career
Be Your Own Pet rocks
"Oh right, we broke up."
Jemina Pearl's 21st birthday was supposed to be awesome. In June, she was fronting Be Your Own Pet—the best band in the world until a few weeks ago—and shooting the video for their most celebrated tune yet, "Becky," a departure that ain't no "Maps," and she'd even declared in song: "Next year I'll be 21/ So look out world cuz I wanna have fun!" Then she got dumped by three guys at once.
"We broke up back in June, but we forgot it wasn't announced yet so I'm suddenly getting all these texts from people asking 'What happened, what happened?'" says Pearl, who's sticking it out with the punkish quartet for a few remaining tour commitments later this week in the UK.
The Nashvillian no-longer-a-teenager sounded candidly disappointed at the turn of events when we spoke to her recently before she was catching a Norway flight, though she is quick to admit that "every bad thing that could've happened to us did" for most of the year. Those of us who copped an early leak of BYOP's still-wet Get Awkward and were bummed at the final cut's excision of our three favorite tracks know what that's like. And now it's a swan song.
"Sorry!" groans Pearl. "I'm glad you consider us one of the 'good' bands, though."
Turbo Fruits, the side-project-y side (now main?) project of BYOP axeman Jonas Stein and late-arriving drummer John Eatherly, will continue. They're not the biggest consolation prize. Not compared to BYOP's always-smart, never-depressing, never-too-serious onslaught, anyway. And don't underestimate the number of great songs getting buried here that aren't "Becky," from the early tantrums "Damn Damn Leash" and "Fire Department" to their most sneer-oriented posturing on their eponymous debut—most notably on "Bicycle, Bicycle, You are My Bicycle" ("Have fun and be safe with it/ Just kidding, fuck shit up!") and the eternal "Bunk Trunk Skunk" ("I'm an independent motherfucker/ And I'm here to take your money/ I'm wicked rad and I'm here/ To steal away your virginity"). And then there's Get Awkward, which has revealed itself over time as the bracing sharkfin no one gets right anymore in indie, not without Sleater-Kinney to play fairy godmother.
But just be glad Pearl didn't hang it up for college. "No way!" she responds. "We're hoping to go back into the studio by January."
We as a best-case scenario means Pearl with producer Steve McDonald (Imperial Teen, The Format) and his wife Anna Waronker, formerly of the late, great that dog., who wrote songs for the live-action Josie and the Pussycats. Pearl can't say whether her new co-conspirators' power-pop background will affect her new direction, or even if the next project will earn the accursed "solo album" designation.
She has a good sense of reality about the future, though: "We did the teenager thing, and I'm gonna do something else now. I might be tied to being a teenager forever, I'm fine with that. But this band was together since we were 15 and we were all friends first. I'd like for us to stay that way. The guys didn't want to play all these shows and we wanted to quit while we were ahead." Too far ahead.