Jarret Nathan talks PEARS, signing to Fat Wreck and the whirlwind that has been 2015

When Jarret Nathan joined PEARS in January of 2015, he had only one request: to be able to stand in his best friend’s wedding on Saturday, November 14th, in Philadelphia -- that’s it. On Thursday, November 12th, Nathan found himself approximately 2,800 miles from Philly, in Santa Barbara, California, finishing off the last few dates of PEARS’ latest tour with Lagwagon and a red-eye flight to Philly out of LAX airport -- which was two hours away.

Offering up a ride from The Velvet Jones to LAX, and declining gas money in exchange for an interview, news editor Stevie Navarre Allen got Nathan from point A to point B while getting the scoop on what it was like to join PEARS, sign to Fat Wreck Chords, share the stage with legends, and much, much more in under 365 days (with occasional corroboration from singer, Zach Quinn).

Seeing as you are the newest member of PEARS, let’s get some background: when did you first hear about PEARS?
Jarret Nathan: Well, I was in Philadelphia -- in my room, on my computer -- I knew [Zach, Alex and Brian] from The Lollies and was friends with Zach on Facebook. We had talked before, around when they had posted In Diapers, but it had been a couple months -- I was a huge fan of The Lollies, and I instantly fell in love with PEARS when Go to Prison came out. But yeah, I was literally just in my room.

So when did you find out that PEARS was looking for a drummer, and what did that “application” process look like?
Nathan: So, this was September of last year. PEARS came and played with my band Push Ups in Philadelphia, and they came and crashed at my house after we played the show -- it was awesome. Then, it was only a couple weeks later and I was sitting with my buddy, Pete, at my house, watching TV and drinking some beers, and Zach texted me -- he sent me three texts, that said…fuck, I have to remember what they said. [pause] They said “Hey” -- no, fuck, what did the first one say?! Zach, do you remember?

Zach Quinn: …no.

Nathan: It was like, ‘Hey -- do you know our songs?,' ‘How quick could you learn them?’ or something like that, and ‘Would you be willing to move to New Orleans?’ And I looked at my friend Pete, and he loved PEARS too, and knew that I loved those dudes, and I was just fuckin’ in shock. They were just here, and we had just played with them, and now they’re asking me to join -- well, not join, but if I was interested in joining the band. It was -- that moment was…life changing.

Quinn: Yeah! I remember, it was something like, “Hypothetically speaking…”

Nathan: Yeah, “hypothetically could you play our material?”

Quinn: And, “would you be willing to relocate?”

Do you remember what you were doing the moment you found out you’d be joining PEARS?
Nathan:…I feel like I should know this! [laughs]

It’s just been a blur?
Nathan: Yeah, a lot of what happened between mid-October and actually moving to New Orleans in the beginning of January, is just kind of a blur, ‘cause I was, you know, figuring out how I was gonna move, what I was doing with my stuff, trying to figure out someone to move into my room -- there was just so much stuff going on. I don’t know, I think I was just -- ‘cause at that point, I was so stoked that I…didn’t want to do anything? Like, I knew that I needed to go out and hang out with my friends before I moved, but there was a while where I just sat in my room, and was just so…stoked. Does that make any sense -- too stoked to want to do anything? [laughs]

Yeah, I get it -- “stoke-overload.”
Nathan: Yeah -- I was just still processing all of it. I had had a couple of conversations on the phone with Zach and Brian, and then I sent them some videos of me playing and then finally it was just like, “Alright, man, when can you come down here?” and I said “I’ll come right after New Year’s -- I’ll be there January 5th!”

PEARS left for Europe very soon thereafter, right?
Nathan: Yeah, my first show with PEARS was in Zurich, Switzerland.

So, it seems that you guys are just a little PEAR family -- how was it getting to know everyone on the road, and was that easy familiarity always the case?
Nathan: Absolutely -- it was so easy, right away. I mean, I had known Zach and Alex from The Lollies, they played in Philly three years ago, and Zach and I kept in touch -- we were maybe going to do a split on Community Records, with my band, Push Ups, and The Lollies, but then they broke up. So I “knew” them, and had somewhat of an idea of what their personalities are, and I generally get along with most people. And, obviously, Brian is the easiest person to get along with. [laughs]

So when they came back to Philly as PEARS in September, we all…just…drank a bunch, and just had an awesome time talking about shit -- it was great! And right away I felt super at ease with them, it was a very easy transition moving to a completely new city.

How was the move to New Orleans? What do you miss most about Philly, and what do you like most about New Orleans -- or have you been there much at all? Seems like you guys are always on the road…
Nathan: In New Orleans -- no, I haven’t spent much time there. You know, it’s so different -- I’m from the northeast. Philly, you know, I consider my home. But I was born in New York, and raised in New York -- my family still lives in New York, so I’m a northeast guy, and I like the winter, I like the snow. I have a hard time with the heat, man, it’s brutal! You know, you grew up there.

Yes, I do know!
Nathan: It’s the worst! But…uh…other than that New Orleans is great!

It was a big difference, though. I was working in Philly, and I was paycheck to paycheck, but rent in Philly is relatively cheap, so I had this beautiful three-story row home -- it was a very nice, comfortable place. And then I show up to Zach’s house on Touro St. -- what is it, 7th Ward? Or is that the 9th Ward?

Quinn: 7th Ward.

Nathan: And it’s a pretty gnarly shotgun punk house. It was just…very different for me, environment-wise. I’m not in New Orleans very often, but I’m definitely starting to feel comfortable. Well, now -- I still don’t have a “home” -- I live with Zach at Memaw’s house, and it’s great because I don’t have to pay, well, bills or rent or anything while I’m on the road, so it’s absolutely great for the amount of time I’m there…but I do miss having a home, for sure [laughs]. Most of all I miss my friends back home, and the music community as a whole. It’s a nice homecoming when we get to go back to Philly on tour.

When you joined the band Go to Prison was already out there, obviously -- what was it like writing and playing the second album? Who are your biggest influences?
Nathan: Go to Prison -- from the first time I heard it, instantly became one of my favorite records. The drumming on that, it’s fuckin’ awesome. I actually just met John Bourgeois, their first drummer who played on that record for the first time at Community Records’ Block Party [this year]. It was great, we nerded out about drumming -- just a really awesome dude and incredible drummer. But, we are very different drummers.

Quinn: Well, that was one of the things I was excited to put you in the band for -- because of your background.

In regards to background, who are your biggest influences?
Nathan: Well, two bands, who are both in my top five favorite bands of all time, are NOFX and Lagwagon -- it’s crazy being on tour with Lagwagon now, because Dave Raun is one of my favorite drummers, ever. He and Smelly -- I took everything, 90 percent of how I play drums is from listening to NOFX and Lagwagon. Fast foot is Smelly, fills are Dave Raun -- I picked up those specific things from those drummers, those were my foundations for drumming.

As I got older I started listening to some more noise rock/experimental stuff -- another one of my biggest influences is Zach Hill, from the band Hella. I can’t begin to explain what Zach Hill is -- you have to listen and see it for yourself. Just the insanely syncopated…everything…I don’t even know how to describe him; but that very, very unique style of drumming -- there’s only so much I can do to emulate that, because its fucking perfect, but I try and make it interesting. I don’t want to just play…I’m a punk drummer, for sure, but I don’t want to just play basic punk stuff because it’s boring for me. I want to make it interesting, throw in weird…stuff when I can. So the foundations are from NOFX and Lagwagon, and really Nirvana and Foo Fighters, Derrick Plourde (Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut) and Bill Stevenson in Descendents -- that was fucking crazy to meet him -- Jesus Christ. [laughs]

But my growth as a drummer came from listening to Hella, and Tera Melos’ John Clardy, Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta), Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta) -- all that weird shit.

You mentioned Bill [Stevenson] -- when did you meet him and what was that like?
Nathan: Fuh-king crazy! It was our last show of tour with Teenage Bottlerocket. We were in Fort Collins and we slept at Brandon [Carlisle]’s house that night. We woke up the next morning and he cooked us a big breakfast, ‘cause he’s a fuckin’ sweetheart and I miss him so much, and uh -- fuck. God damn it. [pauses]

Um…he was like, “Hey! You guys want to go to The Blasting Room? It’s right down the street, I think Bill is over there working on something -- you guys wanna go take a little tour?” So we drove down the street to The Blasting Room and we, we met Bill Stevenson! And Stephen Egerton! And…talked to them!

Is Bill as intense as he seems he could be?
Nathan: He’s a total sweetheart! I wouldn’t say he’s intense -- uh -- he’s…I don’t know what I’d say he is. He’s perfect -- that’s what he is. [laughs]

Quinn: He’s as much of a powerhouse personality as he is a drummer.

Nathan: Yeah, well said.

The best part is Brandon said that Bill and Stephen were on the list to come to our show later that night, and I thought, “No, they’re not gonna come,” you know? Or “Maybe they’ll come, maybe we’ll see them later” -- so, we play our set, and I hadn’t seen them at all yet, and we get off the stage, dripping sweat, walk back into the green rooms -- they’re both there! They gave us big hugs, said they fuckin’ loved the show -- yeah. Bill Stevenson actually watched me play. And loved it -- it was pretty incredible to hear him say that. That was the best part.

As we’ve discussed, you guys seem to be on the road constantly -- what’s the best or most memorable moment you’ve had on tour so far?
Nathan: Just one thing?

Pick one.
Nathan: Um, I am gonna go with: Paris. Our last show on our European tour -- so this is the last show of my first tour ever with PEARS, I had just been all over Europe to, like, six or seven different countries, and that was probably the most important month of my life. I had been playing in bands forever, but I had never been on a tour longer than just a few weeks, so this was my first real…thing, as a musician, first real big tour experience.

The tour was awesome, we ended in Paris; I had a friend come to the show, who I went to, like…pre pre-school with -- his name is Pierre Rousseau -- and I hadn’t seen him in literally 20 years. He’s French, and he moved back to Paris -- we found each other on Facebook after all these years and got back in touch, and he came to the show, after 20 years, and it was insane!

I introduced him to all the dudes, and we were all just having a really great time, and he asked, “Do you guys want to go walk around? Do you want to see Sacré-Coeur?" And, like, fuck yeah I do -- so this is on a Sunday, where the streets are empty in Paris, everything is closed. So Brian and Alex and Pierre and I walked for almost two miles through empty Paris -- I had never been to Europe before, so I’m just looking at everything. We walk up the million steps to Sacré-Coeur and just sat up there for a while. Looking at the entire city, with my first friend in the entire world who I hadn’t seen in 20 years -- that was how I ended my first PEARS tour. And it was beautiful.

Wow…well, you guys have played a lot of festivals -- Punk Rock Bowling, Fat 25, Riot Fest, Fest --which was your favorite, and which would you like to play that you haven’t yet?
Nathan: I’d like to play next year’s Fat 25th Anniversary show! [laughs] Punk Rock Bowling was the first festival I ever played -- that was incredible. I had never played on a stage like that before, I had never been surrounded by so many important people before -- and it was my first time in Vegas. The city was full of punks, I didn’t sleep, it was awesome.

Fat 25 was one of the best weekends of my entire life, honestly -- I never thought I’d be in the same place as all of these people. Since I was 13 years old I looked up to every single one of them. I just never thought, even in a million years, they would one day be my contemporaries. And I have no shame -- I went and introduced myself to everybody. I wasn’t “punishing” or anything, but I just went and politely introduced myself and said what a pleasure it was to be there. But everybody -- I met Fat Mike for the first time there, I met Joey Cape there, I met Dave Raun -- was that the first time I met Erin [Burkett]? I don’t know…

Quinn: Yeah…

Nathan: No -- it wasn’t!

Quinn: Punk Rock Bowling?

Nathan: Yeah, Punk Rock Bowling. But just all the biggest influences in existence were there that weekend.

What haven’t you played that you’d want to play, as far as festivals go?
Nathan: Groezrock! …well, should I say that were planning on it? Or that we’d like to, Zach? Is that allowed?

Quinn: Eh…

Let’s just leave it at “I’d love to play Groezrock.”
Nathan: Yeah, I’d love to play Groezrock.

Quinn: Hey! Who knows, maybe we’ll play Groezrock this year…[laughs]

Nathan: Well, yeah…oooh!

Quinn: …we got the offer, we’re playing Groezrock this year.

Nathan: Well…yeah…we’re playing it. [laughs]

Punk’s evolved so much in the last few years, and grown exponentially -- where do you see yourself, and the band, in the next three years?
Nathan: Oh. Geez.

Nathan: [laughs] I didn’t even expect to be here! I mean I never ever expected to be here, at all, but I have no fucking idea. This has moved so fast: I joined the band in January, I signed to Fat Wreck Chords in April -- well, PEARS signed to Fat -- we’ve already been on tour with Lagwagon, we’ve been on tour with Strung Out and Teenage Bottlerocket. Just the amount I’ve seen and done already in not even a year of being in the band, its…crazy.

We’ll have a new record out next year -- who knows how long we’ll ride that for?! Maybe we’ll have a third [album] out in three years, that seems likely.

Quinn: I’ll be totally fuckin’ nuts by then.

Nathan: I’ve…I’ve never felt better about a band before. Even before I was in PEARS, I’ve never felt as good about this band; now that I’m in it, I feel even [more strongly] about it. This thing has longevity.

Were gonna -- let’s play Wembley, how about that? Let’s play Wembley.

Well, I’ll give that five years…