Be Your Own Pet (aka BYOP) was a female-fronted American punk rock band from Nashville, TN, formed in 2004. The members were Jemina Pearl (vocals), Jonas Stein (guitar), Nathan Vasquez (bass) and John Eatherly (drums). BYOP played, mostly, short bursts of energetic, noisy punk rock, and sounded, to me, like the Pixies mixed with Suicidal Tendencies and a healthy dose of ’70s proto-punk (like MC5 or The Stooges). Sadly, BYOP broke up in 2008, but Jemina has since moved on to other projects. She appeared on an episode of The CW‘s Gossip Girl in 2008 performing a cover of the Ramones classic “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” with Sonic Youth‘s Thurston Moore, whose label, Ecstatic Peace, signed BYOP, and, in 2009, she released an excellent solo album, Break It Up, on Moore’s label. Jemina Pearl Abegg, by the way, is the daughter of artist/musician Jimmy Abegg – but, I don’t know who that is!
Jemina Pearl was only 18-years-old when BYOP‘s self-titled debut was released in 2006 and, like most teenage girls, she loves teenage boys, partying, bicycles, and violence. “I want a kitty cat / My boyfriend wants a dog / We got into a fight / I drowned him in the bog,” she sings in “Bog.” Then, she adds: “I’m sorry / I’m not sorry! / I’m sorry / I’m not sorry!” Damned teenage girls can’t make up their minds! In “Love Your Shotgun,” Jemina sings: “Thought you were the only fish in the sea / Thought you were the only leaf on the tree.” Then, she adds: “But, I was wrong, so wrong,” followed, later, by this great line: “I want your shotgun but you never got to cock it.” In “Fuuuuuun,” a favorite, Jemina and the boys crash a douche bag’s keg party and just wanna have fuuuuuun! Jemina’s vocal style, in that song, really drives home my Suicidal Tendencies comparison. And “Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle,” another favorite, reminds me of “Tony’s Theme” by the Pixies. “Thresher’s Flail,” “We Will Vacation, You Can Be My Parasol” and the tuneful, near-ballad “October, First Account” are other cool tracks. Oh, and “Ouch”, a song about zombies, is, obviously, inspired by George Romero‘s original Dawn of the Dead film (1978) as Jemina even quotes its tag line in the chorus: “When there’s no more room in Hell / The dead will walk the earth.” Awesome!
Watch this video of BYOP performing “Fuuuuuun” live at Lollapalooza 2006 here:
BYOP released their follow-up, Get Awkward, two years later. Jemina was 20, and more (or less) mature. In “Super Soaked,” she rants: “Just 19 when I lost all my dignity! / Today’s my birthday, and now I’m 20! / Don’t wanna have responsibility! / Don’t wanna be a part of society!” And, boys are still giving her grief. In “You’re a Waste,” she offers this line to the boy who broke up with her: “Go ahead and tell your sob story / All I have to say about it is blow me.” In “Twisted Nerves,” my favorite track, Jemina sings: “You are a chainsaw through my heart / Rippin’ right through me from the start.” Then she adds, “But, now you’re so far away / And there’s no way to make you pay / So I’ll go around my room and break anything I want / And in my head imagine breaking your heart.” Other cool tracks are “Bitches Leave,” “The Kelly Affair” and “What’s Your Damage.” Three songs were cut from Get Awkward for being “too violent,” and, later, released on the EP Get Damaged. In “Becky,” Jemina sings about her new friend Becky who she gushes about her secret crush to at a slumber party. But, Becky tells the whole school, so Jemina and a new friend kill her and wind up in juvie! “But, I don’t regret what I’ve done, ‘cuz in the end, it was fun!” And, in “Blow yr Mind,” another favorite, Jemina sings about killing all the popular kids. Apparently, Converse-wearing Jemina hates all the other kids and their pumped-up kicks.
Watch the video for “The Kelly Affair” here:
Jemina recorded her first solo disc, with BYOP‘s drummer, John Eatherly, shortly after the break-up of their band. The appropriately-titled Break It Up, released in 2009, was, definitely, Jemina’s most mature work to date which seems to take its inspiration, mostly, from Blondie (“Ecstatic Appeal,” “Band On the Run”) and The Go-Go’s (“Heartbeats”), although the cover photo is, obviously, an nod to Cherie Currie of The Runaways. Jemina loves The Runaways. I heard her gush about them in an interview on YouTube in which she was also wearing a jacket adorned with their logo. And, check out that Joan Jett t-shirt above, for that matter. Jemina has good taste. Anyway, my favorite song on Break It Up is “Looking For Trouble,” which, in fact, is the best song The Runaways never wrote! “Retrograde” is another favorite in which a troubled girl’s dark side urges suicide: “She says let’s go to the edge / And let’s find out what it’s like to be dead.” Other cool tracks are “No Good,” “D Is For Danger” (with backing vocals courtesy of Thurston Moore), the autobigraphical “Nashville Shores” and “I Hate People” (a duet with Iggy Pop, co-written by Anna Waronker).
Watch the video for “I Hate People” here:
Be Your Own Pet Discography
2005 – Damn Damn Leash (Infinity Cat/XL/Rough Trade) [EP]
2006.03.27 – Be Your Own Pet (Ecstatic Peace/XL) [Album]
2006.04.18 – Summer Sensation (Ecstatic Peace/Infinity Cat) [EP]
2006 – Extra Extra (Infinity Cat) [EP]
2007.05.08 – Not Rocket Science (Infinity Cat) [EP]
2008.03.18 – Get Awkward (Ecstatic Peace/XL) [Album]
2008 – Get Damaged (Ecstatic Peace/XL) [EP]
Jemina Pearl Discography
2009.10.06 – Break It Up (Ecstatic Peace) [Album]