by Interviews

The great quarantine of 2020 has rendered most of the human race desperately grabbing at new hobbies or long desired projects in an attempt to shine some light through the monotony. This includes Naked Raygun's Jeff Pezzati, who dedicated some days of stay-at-home orders to tie a few loose ends, and release two EP's of solo material that he has been tinkering with for years. The result is a bizarre, fun, collection of tunes that venture all over the place, but never waver from Pezzati's keen vocal melodies. Punknews' Mike Elfers recently spoke to Jeff on the phone about the release of the first solo EP, the future of Naked Raygun, and the unadulterated truth of running a raccoon animal rescue out of your own house in the middle of a pandemic.

I dug the little solo project "the First EP," I had a good time listening to it. The press release had said that you had a lot of those songs kind of sitting around for a long time? So my question is, was it this quarantine that forced you to close a loose end and finally get it out? Kind of, yeah. I had the idea for a long time, and needed the opportunity to sit around the house and record some stuff. The project didn't include the vocals on the last couple tracks were new, but the first song had been recorded for a while, mixed and everything, and I just never released it, I didn't feel like releasing it.

I gotcha! I kind of suggested this on the review of it, and somebody in the comments section played off of it too, by saying "The First EP," are you indicating that you're planning on doing a couple of them? Yeah, I'm going to do two, the second one is going to be called 'El Secondo' maybe. Apparently if I call it "The second EP," the people who put these things online for streaming, Apple and iTunes and all of those people have a problem with titling your album with "EP" because they classify other things as EP's. I don't know. You're not allowed to put EP on the cover or something.

Oh definitely, I've gotten in some trouble trying to just title a song in all caps! Yeah! All caps, they don't like that either.

Yeah, I planned a project where the song was just the Roman numeral III, and now it is just capital I, lower case i, lower case i… it looks so stupid. *laughter* Yeah it is strange, they are very strict about it, and, like the photo has to be exactly 3 inches by 3 inches, so many dots per inch, it is very specific.

Exactly! It's like I have all of those graphic design buddies that I've developed friendships with over the years… We all have those gifted friends that can do these tasks for us! I've had to hit them up multiple times because of all of the weird bizarre requests, like "Hey I know you went to school for this, but the graphic you gave me wasn't QUITE big enough… *laughter* Right.

Next question! When and where was the last show that you performed? The last show that Naked Raygun performed was at the 350 Fest in Finley park, it was a pretty big show in a big convention center. The last time I performed was at my surprise birthday party at Cobra Lounge. My spastic band, JP3 played. That's Fred Morg on upright bass, Steev Custer on acoustic guitar, and me on vocals.

Cool, and when was that? February 9th

Awesome thank you, and when was the last show you were able to attend before the entire country shut down? That was probably it, last big show was probably that thing in Finley park, I live pretty far west so I don't get in that often.

Totally get that! Cool! Well I wanted to take a moment, I had added you on Facebook, and wanted to talk about your raccoon animal rescue? Yeah! What happened was, Kristin, my wife, had found a couple of raccoons in our back yard two or three years ago. She didn't know what to do with them, so she called some rehabbers, they said, "You can rehab them yourself if you're capable." She asked a lot of questions, and she really got into it, and ended up bringing these two raccoons back to life. We released them back into our backyard, we have got some woods back there. They seemed to thrive pretty well, they come back once and a while for food, they raised their babies last year. The next year she really got into it and applied for a license, and it took off from there. We have about 27 raccoons in our house right now.

That sounds adorable! Yeah. We've got them in cages, they are all very different ages too, some of them still have umbilical cords on still, some of them are older, and now they are all thriving and doing pretty well. Every once in a while one of them gets sick and she has to administer a needle of electrolytes, if they stop eating. It's looking like they will all make it through. Pretty great to see them go from being left from their mother in the middle of nowhere, to bouncing back and being released to the woods.

Are you in contact with animal control to help with this? It is through the Department of Health, we had to be signed off by a veterinarian to get the license. The license let's you do other animals too but she just does raccoons, other people help squirrels, birds, we know a lady who has horses and cows, she's in St Charles. Pretty aggressive, but we're trying to keep it sane, you know? Kristin really didn't want to take in this many animals, she wanted to take about half, but we get a lot of calls. They fall out of trees all the time.

Good for you guys for doing that, I think that it is really awesome work. I've been reading a lot about people doing genuinely good things, particularly during these grim times, so good for you guys for taking this on. Yeah you can go online, and look up Pezzati's Nurture to Nature Raccoon Rescue, we've got a link to an Amazon page where you can buy us things, like baby wipes, toys for the babies to play with, we've got things that range from $5 to $350, if you feel like contributing it is the best way to contribute to us.

Cool, noted! It's on Facebook, yeah.

Rad. I think I definitely scrolled past that, I've been drinking like this entire pandemic, so… Haha. Good. It's good for you. *laughter*

Yeah just gathering random memories from the last few weeks. Oh yeah, I did look at that! Ha! I have been listening to Naked Raygun a lot in preparation for this interview and the EP review. I admittingly had forgotten about you guys for a little while… I am 36 years old, so for me, when Napster really started hitting hard, was when I was in high school and was like, "I'm gonna be a "punkrocker!"" *laughter* I downloaded every single bootleg Dead Kennedys live performance, and that fed the animal in me to keep going and following punk artists from the glory days, I've always had a really good time listening to your music. Your choices for melodies are very particular, something I tried to describe in the review of the solo thing, I think I just used the word "familiar…" but your choices are kick ass dude, you're a legend. Thanks, thanks.

I'm stoked to be doing this, obviously there aren't any future shows for anyone right now, but is there a future for Naked Raygun right now? Were you talking about any sort of reunion shows or releases? We do have a full album, all recorded, mixed, actually it's been mastered too. Got mastered by the guy that mastered "Hotel California" by the Eagles believe it or not. *laughter*

Hah! Cool. Yeah he used to work in NYC, and he moved to Nashville, and he knows the guy who records our music, told us when it was done to take the mix down to Nashville and he mastered it. It sounds really fucking good, these are really god damn good songs too. Full length album, it's thirteen songs, and it's really strong. I really like it, it's going to be a really big hit.

Of course now you're just kind of sitting on it, waiting for an appropriate time to release it… Well I originally had this deal with Frontier records, Lisa Fancher over there, she has run Frontier for years and years, since like 1980 or something. She's been the driving force label for T.S.O.L. and a lot of good California bands. They were gonna put us on there, and release our album, but our band at the last minute decided that we would be releasing it ourselves, as far as the release I really don't know when it's a good time to do it for the band. I don't really have time to do what I'm doing now, just releasing this EP was a really big project for me, you can sit at the computer every day for two hours and not get enough done.

Certainly, and I know how that usually goes, but I gotta say, I'm very excited for this to see the light of day in whatever way it does! Yeah, and I'm sure we'll play it live when it does, too.

Good, awesome! We've been talking about playing a show at Cobra, Bottom Lounge, and a couple other bars to do a benefit for the workers that got laid off during this Caronavirus thing, so we might do that in the Fall maybe.

That is exciting, 8 and a half hours away, my wife and I have been talking about visiting Chicago forever. Where you at?

Lincoln, Nebraska, haha. Do you have a name for that new Naked Raygun record? Well we were going to call it, it was really clever and I liked it alot, apparently we're not going to call it this anymore, we were going to call it "A Farewell to Arms" and have a picture of Venus and Milo on the cover. That's funny right?

Yes. The statue has no arms. Then someone came up with 'Steadfast' but we're not all sold on it yet.

Studfest? 'Steadfast.'

*laughter* wow I was way off. Steadfast. That's exciting! But yeah here I was before the interview, wikipedia-ing you to find out if Naked Raygun was still active, at least aside from the more "reunion show" side of things. People are going to be very excited about a new full length, this is great. Yeah it is all done, too. It is really good! I'm telling you, it sounds better than, seriously. Some of the songs are better than we can play them, I don't know, maybe it's just because of the mix but I really like it.