Thankfully this is about to change, as Be Your Own Pet are set on the brink of reclaiming punks place in our minds and hearts. Four Nashville teens, out to cause havoc and have a good time, have won the support of almost all who witness them, but how theyve ended up so popular, no ones quite sure least of all them. Speaking with them in Nottingham in the midst of their first UK headline tour, theres no deep philosophising on life or music, no real insight or bold statements made, theyre just a gang of friends that have been whipped out of their garage and are being carted round the world on a big adventure. They seem to love it.
Were having lots of fun, theres loads of energy is the verdict of the bands unofficial leader, Jonas, when asked how the tours been going so far. Hes like any other American teen spotty, longhaired and passively benevolent. When probed as to what its like being a member of Be Your Own Pet, understated responses of I dunno and Its just like being any other kid, except playing music are an innocent charm.
Throughout the interview the band dont say much, answering with the barest minimum. Theyve been together since the fall of 2003, but there was a previous incarnation and when Jonas informs that this is their fifth visit to the UK, power-pill blonde Jemina, the bands explosive lead singer seems positively impressed, Wow! Is it really?
We talk about the smalls and specifics of this tour and previous ones, but with all the number responses and Yes or No answers, the transcript reads more like computer programming than an interview. Eventually discussion turns to the band name itself Is it a euphemism for masturbation? Jemina looks to the ground and sighs, its clear shes being asked a question that a lot of smart-alecs have asked her before, no, it isnt, a lot of people think that, I guess you all have dirty minds. Its Jamins dad - he wrote a song called Be Your Own Pet.
Bass player Jamin is a vacant but well-meaning, afro-clad stoner, the one you suspect the others gently rib for trying to get all deep on them after too many hits from the bong. He suggested that we used it as a band name. At first we were all indifferent to it but we came round is his vague justification. Maybe it would have been wise to probe further, but they dont seem to be hiding anything and to do so would probably only generate a response of urrr, I dunno?.
Theyre playing in town on the same night as Test Icicles, the UKs own riotous fission rockers, and theyre keen to catch up after the show, having played with them before. We played with them the first time we ever came here, at a club called Infinity in London, says Jonas, whilst Jemina chips in with the token Theyre great guys, as if Im on the brink of trying to start up some inter-band rivalry which shes trying to prevent.
But whilst both wild, visceral and a joy to witness, where Test Icicles excel in ridiculous cross-genre dabbling and wide cultural knowledge, Be Your Own Pet lack. Whilst Jemina proudly tells me, I can bake cookies and cupcakes really well. I know how to knit, I made a sweater, the other band members are stumped when I ask them if theyve got any hobbies or talents outside of music. Im REALLY, REALLY good at smoking weed, pips Jonas. Thats, like, totally rad man.
But they are a sincerely loveable lot, and are clearly fuelled on good intentions. Jemina is the brightest spark, throwing in sound bites - Were all experts in the field of partying - as if she knows every journo is simply looking for a good tag line. They love the English crowds They dance a lot, theyre really fun. They get really into it, its really exciting, she continues, whilst Jonas adds, Theyre a lot more receptive over here than they are back in the states.
Is it hard to gain awareness of your band in America because its so much bigger. Do you take a different approach to picking up fans? Jemina tackles this question: Yea, its a much bigger place and the radio is totally different. Here (in the UK) the radio stations play what people want to hear, but over there they play what will make them the most money for commercial air time. So, its the most mediocre stuff possible so that people wont change the station.
Following this I ask her if, being the rarity of young girl working in a predominately male field, does she ever find that she gets sleazy old men making passes at her. The scowl returns and she curtly responds, Oh yea, totally. I think its kind of weird and its annoying but theres not much I can do about it so I just try and ignore it. Does she think it has made her less tolerant of people? Im not a very tolerant person to begin with, she says in a manner to suggest that if I probe her any more I might have to face the wrath of this intolerance first hand.
The punk ethos of not having a fucking clue whats going is kept in tact when asked of their long term plans for the band. Jonas aims to, Just fuck shit up, Jeminas here to have fun. Jamins trying punk rock as an anti-ageing device, as he plans to not get old and, failing that, to die.
Building up to the final question of where does Be Your Own Pet fit in with the grand scheme of everything? its become apparent maybe some of the questions were aiming a little too high. Perhaps asking about their favourite TV shows or whether they were into skateboarding would have inspired great chat, as when I do eventually ask them my final gambit, Im greeted with a long, confused silence.
Uhhhh... on the outskirts, maybe? offers the modest Jamin.
The silence continues and its left to Jemina to sum up the point thats been elusive in the conversation so far I just get to hang out with my three best friends and play shows and travel round the world Its pretty fucking awesome.
And you cant really argue with that, can you?