Zach Quinn – PEARS (The VH Interview)

When we walked down into the abyss of Birmingham’s Flapper in early 2015, little did we know that we would happen upon a band who a few months later joined the ranks of Fat Wreck Chords. That band PEARS have since worked incredibly hard, releasing their second album ‘Green Star’ early this year and now are back over in the UK to tour with the Bouncing Souls and also make their first ever appearance at Rebellion Festival.

We caught up with lead singer Zach Quinn, just before the band got on a plane for Europe.

You are two days away from hitting the road, I assume you are raring to go and ready to play some shows?

Oh yeah, there has been a certain amount of relaxing and gearing up for it. At this point we’ve had two and a half weeks off, so I really am raring to go.

On stage you are very energetic, so I feel like you are the type of person who probably needs to be doing something and staying occupied, is it a struggle for you to have those two and a half weeks off?

Well, not really I try to do as much as I can, mild weight training and running and what not to keep me ready to go, and I generally try to do that but it can be hard to balance, sometimes I get too far into that or too far into partying. It can be difficult to balance both, and trying to stay in shape and trying to have a social life, but I generally keep up with myself so I don’t become lazy laying around at home.

You mention staying active physically, how are you doing because you had an injury last year, you broke your hand?

Yeah, I fractured my hand and shattered a carpal but that’s in pretty good shape now, I can’t do push ups the normal way anymore- weight on my wrist at that angle hurts me, but I’ve learnt to put weights on the ground so I can keep my wrists straight and just hold the bars, so that takes care of that problem. There are just mild injuries throughout, depending on what the shows are like I’ll come home and my knee will be giving me trouble or I’ll pull muscles in my back, different things will happen but generally I’m in pretty good shape right now at least, there isn’t anything that is really causing me pain or discomfort!

Was it a long road to recovery, I know you had to crowd-funding type thing to help out with the payment of it, tell us about that.

That was in Australia, and we really lucked out that it happened in Australia because- although we did have to do crowd-funding and did still have to pay out of pocket- the price comparatively, it would have been incredibly more expensive in the United States. But I think the whole thing cost us about $3800, which actually, for two emergency room visits, surgery and a post-op specialist is pretty good, it would have easily been four or five times more expensive in the States.

The crowd-funding thing is gaining popularity and when it is used for the right reasons, it must be pretty humbling for people to show their appreciation by helping you out on a personal level.

It really is and got me thinking about how good a group of friends we’ve made on our tours, and how awesome our fans are. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I know we would never ask for money if we didn’t absolutely need it, and also we try not to screw anything up or cancel any shows, I think everybody knows we give it a hundred and ten percent, so when we need help our amazing friends or fans give us one hundred and ten percent and I couldn’t be more grateful.

You played a few of the shows with the injury, not even knowing you had it?

Lots of them! We missed one show right after the injury happened because I was stuck in the hospital, even having the surgery, I think I had the surgery and played the show about nine hours later, high as hell on pain pills but we played it.

Getting back to the tour, you are playing Europe and heading over to the UK, which is still officially part of Europe. Is this your second or third time over here? I know we caught you with Red City Radio, I think early part of last year. Have you been over since?

That’s the only time we’ve been the UK, we’ve done European shows but we haven’t made it to the UK again. So I’m really excited to get back over, I had some of my best times on that tour of the UK and especially now that we have our footing in Fat, I’m really excited to return, I think the shows are going to be great. To come back and see all the people that might have missed us first time around, it’s going to be really great and coming over with The Bouncing Souls it’s going to be a blast.

It’s crazy to think that you are two years in, on your second album and are on tour with a band like the Bouncing Souls.

It’s brutally strange and bizarre, it’s still jarring because we started the band two years ago, we started touring six or eight months later, so to think we’ve been touring for a year and a half (give or take) and things are so different now, I was still delivering sandwiches a year and a half ago, now I’m really not doing that. Flying to the UK, going overseas three times since the year started, it’s really strange. It’s crazy.

You’ve put the new album out this year, what was it like recording that second album? I know the way that Fat works, you pretty much get left to your own devices, was it a case of “here is some money, go record an album and we’ll put it out”?

That is kind of how it was, it was a lot like doing the first one, but it was also very different in a lot of ways. The writing was a lot different for it, and then the recording was different, recording in an actual studio and having the budget to do that, because we recorded the first album in a practice space. Getting to work in a real studio space, but also the fact that this was the first time I’d worked on anything that I knew people were going to listen to, so that’s scary which added another level of pressure, but we did our best to not let that bother us and trust our instincts, they’ve got us this far so why stop now.

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You say that you knew it was something people were going to listen to, is that the reason you decided to re-release on Fat, were you unsure people had heard it the first time round, or was it just that they wanted to do that?

They wanted to do that, but we did too just because we were so proud of the first record, so we were just like “let’s put this out to a larger scale audience and make sure people hear this one first” I think it was the right decision to make, even though it meant waiting to record the second album. Once we re-released ‘Go To Prison’ we sentenced ourselves to playing those songs for another year, so that was aggravating in a way because we were ready to play new stuff, but also it was really important to us that we got to play that to the crowds that we got to play to after we signed.

Seeing you gents perform live, and the way that you carry yourself you remind me a little of Iggy Pop in the way that you move. Are you the kind of person who’s comfortable on stage, or is that persona something you have to get into to feel safe and quell any nerves?

It’s interesting that you ask that, because I am very uncomfortable in front of large groups of people and early in the game I just figured that I was just going to bask in feeling uncomfortable and just do what I please, so that’s the head space that I’m usually in. I don’t know how to address crowds, so I guess it is a thing that became aesthetically cool- that I don’t say a thing in the microphone between songs but it is mostly a practical choice in that I don’t know how to talk to that many people it makes me nervous.

I don’t understand how anyone could do it! I assume you maybe try and blank out the crowd do you?

In a way, I just kind of except that there are all these people watching me do something and then I just live in that panic. So in a way it tunes it all out, but it is not so much living without fear, but letting the fear rule me.

On The Bouncing Souls tour you are splitting off to play Rebellion Festival, which is a proper ‘old school’ punk festival. Are you looking forward to that? Have you researched who you are playing with?

Very much, I’m really exited there are some great bands, some that we have made friends with, others that I have never seen before, I am very very excited to play that thing.

When we saw you with Red City Radio, it was a real Hardcore crowd, where as this is going to a proper Punk festival, you’ve got the likes of The Descendants and The Exploited playing, it is going to be a different kind of crowd. Your music is a little undefinable, it encroaches on many facets of Punk. Do you have a preferred crowd to play to?

Honestly, I don’t really have a preferred crowd and mostly because of that reason, because we stretch through so much of that genre and we have an array of eras of Punk that are present in our music I think. It’s always interesting playing in front of whoever because honestly I think there is a lot of us to be enjoyed by a lot of different kinds of people. It’s always fun to play for certain crowds, and scary at the same time, with old school punk crowds it’s fun because I know so many of the people there will recognise some of the sounds that we utilise, but also old schoolers reject new things so that’s scary too, but honestly we’ve been welcomed with open arms by lots of different crowds, it’s really cool. I’m excited!

PEARS begin their run of UK shows this evening, including a date in Blackpool for Rebellion Festival.

1st August – Kingston, Fighting Cocks

2nd August – Huddersfield, The Parish

3rd August – Glasgow, Stereo

4th August – Blackpool, Rebellion Festival

5th August – Bristol, The Exchange

6th August – London, The Underworld

7th August – Kingston, Fighting Cocks

Rebellion Festival takes place from the 4th until the 7th August at the world famous Winter Gardens in Blackpool. The 20th Anniversary features a whole host of legendary bands including Descendents, Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, The Damned, Flag, The Dickies and many many more.

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