“Me and my buddy had this great mushroom trip,” says Zach Quinn, “where we went to a place where everything was pure and I was holding a bunch of bananas over our heads and I said ‘We’re orbiting the banana sphere and everything is wonderful here.’”
“I then had this mushroom trip a couple of weeks later where I imagined I was living within the instant of my death stretched to an eternity and I was being led into oblivion by my angel of death. I had to face everything that I’d done and wished I hadn’t done and all the people that I’ve hurt and I was going through all these crazy thoughts like my life was a hiccup in reality and I had never existed at all and I would cease to exist shortly. After all that was over, my buddy was like ‘You didn’t go to the banana tree, man. You went to the pear tree. That fruit is the worst.’ And so it became slang for everything that’s horrible.”
Welcome, then, to the world of PEARS. On the surface, despite the capital letters, it’s an innocuous name, but the band’s music – much like the experience that inspired their moniker – is savage and brutal. Formed by Quinn in 2014 along with guitarist/vocalist Brian Pretus, drummer Jarret Nathan and bassist John Komar, PEARS’ short, vicious songs overflow with existential nihilism. Hailing from New Orleans (“There’s a scene,” chuckles Quinn, “but we’re an anomaly here. We don’t really fit in anywhere.”), the band released their first record, Go To Prison, that same year, and have signed to Fat Wreck for their forthcoming second full-length, Green Star.
“I was buying records that Fat put out when I was 12 years old,” beams Quinn, “so it’s kind of crazy. All of my heroes put records out on that label.”
Musically, Green Star is as fierce and ferocious as the first record, but it covers much more ground sonically, splicing different sub-genres of punk – and metal and hardcore – together to create a terrifying, all-consuming beast of a record whose songs, somehow, flit between genres in the minute or two they exist.
“We wanted to do everything that we loved in one band,” says Quinn, “and we toiled over this record for a long time. We wrote and rewrote and pulled songs apart and put parts of songs in other songs. We did some bizarre stuff and it was a lot of fun, but it was also awful and miserable and painstaking. It was the hardest thing I ever did and I never want to do anything like that again. But I’m sure I will.”
What hasn’t changed, however, is that sense of existential torment. It’s that bad trip come to life through music. Yet while Quinn admits that he’s “an absolutely hopeless person” and that the existential despair of his songs is very real, at the same time he’s learned to view it as a positive.
“This is an oxymoron,” he chuckles, “but I think of myself as sort of an optimistic nihilist – everything is meaningless – and that’s okay! I think what’s interesting about there not being any inherent meaning in anything is that you can ascribe your own. You decide what matters. And life is a wonderful thing. I enjoy it when I enjoy it. Sometimes it’s awful, but isn’t everything sometimes?”
Much of that optimism stems from being able to use PEARS as a vehicle to purge himself of his inner demons – from out of the void and the nothingness comes creativity, and from that, in turn, comes catharsis. It’s not always easy, of course, but it’s necessary.
“We’re really, really emotionally connected to the work that we do,” he admits. “It’s like exercising – it really hurts to do it, but no pain no gain.”
PEARS’ Green Star album is set for release on April 1. The band kick off an Australian tour on March 3, and will hit the UK as part of the Rebellion festival on August 4.