You know, kids really do say the darnedest things.
"It seems like it's the bands that are just having a good time that get noticed by labels," Be Your Own Pet guitarist Jonas Stein says thoughtfully. "The bands that are going for a specific sound, the bands that are looking for radio hits-it seems it takes them a lot longer to make it as a band."
Stein isn't a pontificating Pete Townshend yet, but give him time; he's still young. So young that everyone who writes about his band has to mention his age. It's 18. He's 18 years old!
Let's put this in perspective: In 1988, Stein and the rest of his Nashville quartet were bungee jumping from their mothers' placentas while Sonic Youth was recording Daydream Nation. Yet BYOP have already released half a dozen singles and an LP, played on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and toured the States, Europe and Japan.
And they don't suck. Not even a little bit.
With a sound that's like the running of the bulls (if the bulls had out-of-tune Gibsons and crappy tube amps strapped to them), their self-titled debut album rocks hard enough to get them signed to Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace record label. The songs are just poppy enough to follow along with, but there are also plenty of feedback temper tantrums to keep the angry kids angry.
But don't kick yourself for waiting until you were a tired, old college kid to get your own band together-BYOP had a head start. Their parents are cooler than yours. Jazz musicians, artists and bohemians, they hooked their kids on underground stuff early. Stein's dad, music manager Burt Stein, introduced his son to Television and The Clash when the tyke was in elementary school.
"My parents were gung ho [about the band] from the start. They thought that if this opportunity was coming along that I should take it," says Stein. "But there have been hiccups. On our first few tours, we needed a chaperone. The bassist's parents weren't totally into it at first. But they came around. We've been on our own on the last couple tours, which have been great."
"Great" could be an understatement. Imagine still living with Mom and Dad (which they all do), but getting to take off to play festivals like Glastonbury and South by Southwest at age 18. You've got hundreds of fans coming to see you and dozens of hours to hang backstage with the world's coolest (read: most corrupting) bands.
"It has happened fast," says Stein. "I never expected it to happen this fast. I really never expected it to happen like this at all."
Stein never really expected it to happen at all. But that's rock 'n' roll for you. One minute you're struggling with long division, the next your standing in front of a stack of amps laughing at how many distortion pedals a royalty check can buy.
Be Your Own Pet plays with Awesome Color and Tall Firs at the Epicentre on Oct. 19. Doors open at 7 p.m. $10-$12. 858-271-4000.