Exclusive: Long lost PEARS Interview with Brian Pretus from early post-“Green Star” golden days

Oh my God. Did I really get wasted while running the merch booth for Pears?

What was I thinking? Those guys are the most amazing people ever. They paid me seventy bucks to spill beer all over their merchandise. I was supposed to be slangin’ the goods!

In my defence, it was somewhat overwhelming. Pears is loaded! I hope I didn’t accidentally embezzle too many funds. I vaguely remember commenting on Zach Quinn’s Ugg Boots.

I am such an asshole.

I’m also irresponsible. Dude, Pears is fucking loaded!

…a few months before all that (over a year or so, now, and long before I was a writer at DyingScene) I had a very pleasant chat with Brian Pretus, Pears’ guitar player at Three Links over a couple large glasses of Horchata. Read through that conversation below.

 

DS: I’m sitting here at Three Links with Brian Pretus from Pears. I’ve got a few questions for him… for you.

Brian: Alright.

DS: So you guys just took some time off, I already asked you this.

Brian: Yup.

DS: How was that?

Brian: Aw it was great, it was the first time we’ve been off for more than like two weeks the whole time we’ve been a band. So adjusting back to real life is tough, but you know, it’s finally starting to feel normal to do two completely different things on two completely different schedules and you just gotta learn how to adapt and roll with it.

DS: Yeah, cool.

Brian: It’s been great, really exciting.

DS: Yeah, very uncharacteristic.

Brian: Yeah, most definitely, but I enjoy it but I also get stir crazy at home so I like being on tour, but you know, you’ve gotta be normal at some point.

DS: Yeah. Pears is like jokingly almost considered a local band here in Dallas, you are here so much. What are some of your favorite things about the city?

Brian: Well Scott Beggs, the owner of Three Links is my favorite thing about the city because he’s super nice to us and he’s been booking us since our first tour, I think, or maybe our second tour… the first time we came here, but this is a great city. I mean this whole Deep Ellum area is amazing.

DS: You know they’re…

Brian: The food here is great. The people here are super nice you know?… What were you gonna say?

DS: The skyline got voted the best skyline in the world.

Brian: Oh, really?! That’s pretty impressive.

DS: I don’t remember what magazine.

Brian: Haha that’s cool, though.

DS: So ya’ll are on tour forever?

Brian: Yeah, basically.

DS: You’re not really giving yourself… oh no, no, no, no… I haven’t had a chance to catch your comedy set yet, but I hear you have some pretty crazy stories from the road.

Brian: Ahahah umm, yeah, we have a lot of crazy stories. One time at Three Links I did this road stories thing that our buddy JT Habersaat does for his Altercation Punk Comedy Tour, where like, band guys get up and tell crazy stories from the road, but I wouldn’t call myself a comic per say, but I feel like one day I’ll probably put a complete routine together and do some standup because I really like stand-up a lot. It’s like my favorite thing to watch on TV, you know, and shit, you know, I think that talking on stage in between songs is me working towards me being a comic one day. Maybe.

DS: Any stories you can share?

Brian: Um. Last night we got drunk and did drugs all day but our singer got so drunk that he got to a point where he just wouldn’t pass out anymore so he, at the end of the festival we were playing, he was just running on stage for whatever band was going on and trying to sing like harmonies to their songs and stuff, and he was singing like a harmony thing during MXPX and two guys had to like carry him off the stage. It was ridiculous.

DS: Wow.

Brian: Yeah some people ask me for stories it’s like everything just goes blank in my brain.

DS: That’s a good one.

Brian: Pretty good.

DS: Being on tour constantly, you’re not giving yourselves a lot of downtime to write. From what I gather you are putting stuff together room to room and on your previous releases you seem to be masters of the studio, even though you are never in one apparently. Could you elaborate on your writing process and methodology behind that?

Brian: Well as far as the studio goes, I guess the way we look at it is anywhere that you set up and record is technically a studio. So whether it’s like a car or your house or some dudes house or an actual studio. And we’ve always recorded ourselves, like as far as demos and in our old band, we recorded our actual own releases and stuff. So we have a lot of experience. We know how everything is supposed to work so we don’t have to have the engineer explain what to do to us, but, so for the writing process we basically record as we’re going and write stuff, but everything just gets pieced together from riffs we’ve recorded on our phones over time and I just go home and copy and paste all those together and piece them together like a puzzle on my computer, and then we record all the demo vocals. So by the time that we go to the studio to record everything, we’ve already done it once and know what we wanna do to the next one and what we don’t wanna do that was in the first one and stuff like that. It seems to be the best way to do it because we have been cranking out material more efficiently and faster than ever.

DS: Are you guys best buds?

Brian: Oh, yeah! Definitely. We’ve been best friends for, me and Zach at least and Erich too have been best friends since we were kids. Jarret, we just met Jarret on the road and became like instant best friends, and Dante, our tour manager. We spend like all of our time together basically so if we weren’t best friends it wouldn’t work out.

DS: Jarret, whenever he, whenever it became apparent that he was gonna be in the band, did he just like slide in or was there an initiation process?

Brian: Well we had like another drummer that wasn’t working out and we told Jarret. He sent us like, we had him send us a bunch of demos and videos of him playing the songs and stuff and once we saw that he could hang and that he was kind of a natural with the material, we were like “Yeah, dude. Just come on down and move into Zach’s grandma’s house and we’ll practice for a week and go on tour.” And we never looked back since. It was the easiest thing we ever had to do I think. He’s been down for life since the beginning. We couldn’t ask for anything else.

DS: How’s Alex’s departure and the arrival of Erich affected the writing…?

Brian: Alex is cool man, we still love Alex. He just didn’t wanna tour anymore, you know? I don’t blame him. He’s got a degree he wants to use and he didn’t like the constant traveling and stuff, you know? Being uncomfortable all the time is just not his style, but we still hang out with him from time to time. He’s still one of our good buds, you know? And Erich, we had a little road bump in between the two with another bass player who came out on tour with us, two tours with us and bailed on us when we were going to Australia. He just like didn’t show up for the plane like an asshole, and… so… but the day Erich joined the band the band was finally complete. We could just feel it. It was the first time where we had no members in the band where everyone’s kinda like “Ehh, I don’t know if that’s gonna work out,” you know?

DS: Yeah, you’ve got new material on the way too, right?

Brian: Oh yeah, all the time. We’re always working towards the next thing. We’ll probably have another release next year (Direct Hit Split). Maybe not a full length but definitely…

DS: Any style changes or anything like that?

Brian: Ehh, just whatever we feel like doing at the time really. Who knows? Maybe catchier stuff next time. Stuff that’s a little easier for people to grasp on to.

DS: You already answered this question, but the last time I saw you, Alex was like drinking bottle after bottle of water and so I was gonna ask if he left because he was thirsty… but I guess not.

Brian: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA that is hilarious. He was like obsessed with drinking water, I don’t know. He like, all fucking day, gallons and gallons and gallons of water… because he was always nervous about his health and stuff, so I don’t blame him. That’s the most important thing on tour is to drink water. I drank one right before I came over here.

DS: Yeah, you’ve gotta stay hydrated…

Brian: Got to.

DS: Can you describe any instances where professionalism comes into play in maintaining you guys’ like, maybe you’re annoyed at each other and you have to just set it aside and put on a kickass show? I mean, you guys put on kickass shows all the time.

Brian: Yeah, I mean for instance, like, yesterday we were like scrambling to get on stage because the show was running late and like, we were all like, Zach hadn’t changed out of his boots and into his regular shoes because the boots are too heavy to wear on stage so we were like freaking out. We had like thirty seconds before we were supposed to be on the stage and everyone was just kind of freaking out and started yelling at each other, and we were just like, “Wait, Calm the fuck down! Let’s have a good show, because we do this all the time.” And so we just like immediately snap into professional mode at the drop of a hat and do what we gotta do with what we’re given… And professionalism, I think, especially in a punk band these days, is super important because it’s hard for people to take you seriously otherwise. You know? And if you don’t conduct yourself as a professional in what you’re doing as a career there’s no way it’s gonna work. People are never gonna latch onto it. It’s just gonna look like a fun thing you like to do instead of like, “We mean business. We’re here to kick ass, make friends and get the fuck out of there.” You know? I think it’s super important, and a lot of bands don’t realize that, too. You know just like the way you talk with like, the way you show up to a show, you meet everyone that works the venue, even if they are like a cleaning person, you know? Just so you leave that night, everybody should think, “That band was super nice. We’d love to have them back.” There’s no room for unprofessionalism in my world. You know what I mean?

DS: What about within the band? You guys are pretty good at like squashing inner turmoil and stuff?

Brian: Oh yeah. Like, instant. What does Jarret use the term…? “Conflict resolution.” He like grew up in a family of a bunch of Jewish people that when they all get together their emotions are crazy, and they all yell at each other at family dinners and stuff so he’s gotten really good at being able to calm everybody down and make everybody look at each other from every side and stuff so when we fight it’s like over like that. We just talk about it as soon as possible away from a bunch of people, you know? We get everything over with real fast, so fighting and stuff has never really been an issue with us. Especially with this line-up of people, because everybody is on exactly the same wavelength. Everyone has got the same common goal too. We all know that even when shit sucks, we are all working towards the same thing. You know? And we don’t wanna fight anyway.

DS: For sure man. Did you guys take care of Zach when he broke his hand?

Brian: Oh yeah! We did as best as we could, but mostly Dante, our tour manager took care of him. You know, he only missed one show from that and he just kept going like a champ.

DS: It looked like it hurt.

Brian: Yeah. His hand was pretty fucked up. It was like squashed and pushed under itself. Fucked up.

DS: Man when I see pictures of you, I always get the feeling that you’re like this adorable, affectionate person. Is there a dark side to you?

Brian: Not really. Hahah, as much as it would be cool to have a dark brooding side or and artistic side or something, you know, I just, I don’t know. I don’t like being bummed out, or depressed, I mean, I get depressed a lot but I just try to be as happy as possible and make people around me as happy as possible because I think that’s the best thing you can do with your life. You know? Even when I’m like cranky and tired, I try to just do whatever I can to make others happy and shit. I think it’s important. Especially being on a semi-public platform, like being in a band, you know? There’s no reason to send more hate out into the world. It’s already there, you know? I’d rather send something positive.

DS: PMA.

Brian: Even though I would never boast that though. Other bands have already done that. I just wanna be friends with everybody.

DS: Cool, man.

Brian: I mean not everybody. There’s a lot of weirdos but…

DS: There are a lot of weirdos. Yeah. So how’s your home life? How does being a punk rock dad affect that kind of stuff? (BEST SEGWAY EVER!!)

Brian: I love it! Having that in my life is one of the best things that ever happened to me, and a lot of people are like nervous about, because I have a seven year old step-daughter that I’ve been around for like 5 years of her life, and so I’m basically her dad now, but it’s made me get like a completely new set of like, what’s the fucking word… important things…

DS: Priorities.

Brian: Priorities! That’s the word. A completely new set of priorities…

DS: You forget it when you go on the road…

Brian: Yeah, I mean before that I used to worry about like “What if something happens to me?” or like “What if this doesn’t go well for me?” but then I realized that nothing really matters like that, when like you see a kid soaking in knowledge about everything around them and you’re like, “Wow, that’s way more important than anything I’m doing.” So I’m gonna put all my effort and all the things that I’ve learned into helping that become awesome, instead of like, you know, I’ll be fine, but kids are super cool, not all of them, but mine is.

DS: There’s some dweebs out there.

Brian: Yeah definitely, a lot of kids are stupid as hell, but you know, I think it was like in the years that I’ve been around her I’ve grown more than the rest of my entire life put together, you know? It’s made me grow the fuck up super-duper fast. I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

DS: It sounds like there are a lot of rewards. Are there any downfalls to being a punk rock dad?

Brian: Yeah, I miss her all the time. I miss her and my fiancé, like all day on the road, but it makes it when we go home its way more fun. We don’t take being together for granted ever.

DS: That’s good.

Brian: Yeah, it makes you really cherish like relationships on a different level too.

DS: So Dante’s been with you from the beginning. I was just wondering, “Where do you find a Dante? Where do those people come from?”

Brian: We just… New Orleans! We’ve been going to shows with him since he was a kid. We’ve always been friends and hanging out and shit. He, like a long time ago had just talked to me and was like “Yeah I think I’m going to college to be like a tour manager or something someday.” And that was it. That was all he’d really ever said to me, and then I heard that he actually went out on a tour and so, just the fact that he had shown the initiative without like even hinting that he would want to do something with us, I was like well you know what, we’re trying to fucking do this for real. We need to find somebody else that’s trying to do music professionally for real, and Dante is like our best bud, so we’ll just take him. And it’s been perfect ever since. He didn’t really know much, starting. We kind of just threw him in out of nowhere, but he’s learned everything about the industry from like nothing to where he is now. It’s pretty awesome. He’s like a legit success story, and he’s only 23 so he’s like 4 years younger than all of us and it’s like, he’s super, he impresses me all the time just with how hard he works. It’s really awesome. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody else.

DS: Is he in fact the reincarnation of Dante Alighieri who came back from the middle circle of Hell to punk rock glory?

Brian: Ahahaha something like that. He might be like a minion of that person, or like a, I don’t know, a mirror version of him.

DS: The artwork on Green Star was cool.

Brian: Yeah, they got a lot of Dante’s Inferno stuff on there. Actually on the record, it’s got like the seven layers of hell or whatever, and that’s actually, we just stole it from Nirvana. And then when we were in London, we saw some dude selling fake band shirts and it had Nirvana and then the exact logo from our record, we were like “Holy shit, I gotta get that shirt!”

DS: Haha rad! Can you give some insight on how Pears goes about booking a tour?

Brian: Well, I used to do it by just asking like the small amount of friends I had over the country like “who books shows here? Who books shows over here, or who books shows here?” and I would just hit those people up and be like, “Yo, do you wanna book us a show? I know you’ve never heard of us but I promise that we’ll play hard.” And a lot of people trusted us, and we made a lot of friends in the DIY circle of touring, which is completely different than the venue level of touring. You know, because the house shows and the venue stuff has got different promoters, different crowds and stuff, but since we’ve been moving into venues, we’ve got a booking agent whose name is Jonathon/JoJo, He plays in the band Red City Radio and he wasn’t a booking agent before we were a band. He basically saw us at our CD release show, and was like “Dude, I was thinking about being a booking agent, could I be your booking agent?” and we were like, “Uhh, yeah.” And he was like, “You don’t even have to pay me until we get to where you make enough money to where you can pay me.” And we were like, “If you’re willing to invest that kind of like, if you believe in us that much then absolutely.” So ever since then he’s been our booking agent and he just books the shows now and he’s been doing awesome.

DS: Yeah really awesome, Australia…

Brian: Yeah, well he didn’t book Australia, Strung Out’s booking agent did that, and we just sat there and waited. We just got on and did whatever they told us to do.

DS: Yeah, I figure by now the calls just come in right?

Brian: Yeah, and then for like Europe and stuff, we work with this agency called Destiny Booking Agency which… they booklike a lot of the Fat Wreck Chords bands and stuff. They’ve been around for like 20 years or something, but the people that book us over there are like young kids like us. Like, we had this dude Florien who was booking like us and like a couple random bands like our age, and then now this girl Katrin who we got hooked up with Destiny, who was just booking this band Such Gold, who we’re friends with. She found out that Destiny, that Florien was leaving, and we were like, “Well, you should apply for Destiny, and we’ll put in a good word.” And so now she’s our booking agent, just another one of our friends. Basically everybody we work with is in like a big circle, our big circle of friends basically, which is awesome. You know? I’d rather it be that way than a bunch of people we don’t know like just giving us an agenda for whatever reason. You know? Everything we do is like, we all discuss everything together and then they just do their shit and we just say yes or no.

DS: It seems like it works.

Brian: Yeah, yeah. It’s cool.

DS: Do you have any advice for the readers who might want to start booking a tour?

Brian: Umm, You have to think of it on a global scale from the beginning. You like, “Ok, so, if we wanna be successful over the whole world our one home town doesn’t matter at all.” You know? On the grand scheme of things. And like in New Orleans, there’s only so much of a scene, like a couple hundred kids that could possibly go to a show. So once you’ve played enough shows, like five or six shows in your hometown and you’ve got your feet wet and people know that your band exists, then you have to show them that you are worthy of them coming to see you by going out and playing, you know like an hour or two away from your house a couple times, and then as soon as you can go on like a weeklong tour. You can take five days off work and stretch that into a ten day tour by using both weekends. You know? And then you can get basically from New Orleans to New York and back in ten days and play ten shows. It’s super easy, but if you don’t…if you’re worried about like, “Oh, my girlfriend might be mad, or my boyfriend might be mad if I leave and go on tour.” Then that’s not gonna work out either because if they don’t support you in what you wanna do and understand that you have to lose a lot of things to do that then that’s just not gonna work. Just tour as much as possible and make sure you don’t suck and just shove it down people’s throats until they can’t not come see you. That’s all we did.

DS: Cool.

Brian: And it seems to be working. And if you play that many shows there’s no way you’ll be bad.

DS: But art tastes good so it’s ok.

Brian: Yeah. Totally. And people can sense it when you are doing it with, you know, all good intentions behind it. You know? Like, people can sense when you’re not putting everything you have into it. You know? So if you don’t commit fully to something in general, even with music or anything, it’s not gonna work out is the way I look at it. So if you commit your whole life to touring in a band it’s bound to work. You know? You just got to.

DS: It takes like 5,000 hours or 10,000 hours to become a master or something like that.

Brian: Yeah, definitely. Whatever that number is, we’re not even close to there yet, but we’ll get there.

DS: I posed a question to the readers about what question I should ask you in this interview, and one of my favorite responses (and most colorful) was “What do you hate about Fat Mike’s bitch ass the most?”

Brian: Hahah Jesus!!

DS: That was posed by my buddy Steven and I was wondering if you’d be willing to ease his curiosity.

Brian: Um… I don’t hate anything about him. I do hate that they’ve never played the song “Golden Boys” live, because that song is really good and I think they could kill it. Other than that, I don’t hate him at all, to be honest with you. I know it’s a terrible answer to that question. I know they were looking for some drama but I don’t hate that guy. I don’t hate that guy at all. He’s pretty fucking rad. He’s the most successful punk dude that I know.

DS: Money under the table.

Brian: Yeah, I mean he’s done nothing but support us and give us the benefit of the doubt since he heard about us, which is awesome. Instant trust in us. You know? He didn’t even… like, we sent him the demos for our album and he didn’t even, he was just like, “Yeah, um, I was gonna come down and produce this with you guys but I think you’ve got it under control.” So he trusted us fully for everything. It’s great. I couldn’t ask for anything else.

DS: Can you break down your equipment?

Brian: My equipment… right now I’m going through a little bit of a transitional period of flip-flopping back and forth between my Marshall head that I’ve used my entire life and this new Black Star head that I got. The Black Star is the HT Stage 100. It’s a tube amp. It’s sick. It’s a little compressed for me. I’m still working on it though, but the Marshall is my guy. Marshall JCM 900. And a lot of people think that those amps sound like shit, and they usually do, but that’s because the treble in the presence knobs have to be at zero or else it sounds bad. And then I got a Mesa oversized 4×10, or 4×12 cabinet and an Orange 4×12 on the other side of the stage. Pedals, I have the most amazing pedal in the world, the Polytune pedal! The best tuner ever and the only actual pedal I have, though, is the Swollen Pickle by Way Huge. It’s a fuzz pedal, with like a subtle octave thing in it, so I use that for all of our heavy parts. And that’s it. And oh! Gibson SG. That’s the only guitar worth playing. For me, I’ve got short arms and short fingers.

DS: You’re a Gibson guy!

Brian: Yeah, so just the way my bodies shaped, I’ve got short arms, short fingers, and a fat belly so the guitar is so thin that it just stays close to my body, like a normal guitar would on a normal person. But if it doesn’t have the curved edge like that it hurts my arm and presses into it.

DS: No chance I could switch you to a Strat? Strats have that curved edge.

Brian: Noooo… God, dude, single-coil? Single-coil pick-ups? I can’t do it. Leave that for Green Day and stuff.

DS: For Green Day, aww man. Well, good.

Brian: Right on, man.

DS: Thank you so much.

Brian: Thank you so much, dude this was fun.

DS: That was awesome.

Brian: Good interview. I appreciate it dude.


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