Blasting out of Nashville, TN, like a bottle rocket, the teenage garage-noise-pop band Be Your Own Pet makes music that's as frenzied as it is catchy.
The band formed in 2003 out of the ashes of Night Shift Nurses, which was the project of drummer Jamin Orrall and his bassist brother Jeff. The pair practiced in their basement and also ran the label Infinity Cat; and eventually joined forces with guitarist Jonas Stein -- who was in another band on the label, Jimmy Cushman?, at the time -- and singer Jemina Pearl, a friend from Nashville School of the Arts. Playing house shows and gigs at the all-ages venues Guido's Pizza and Bongo Java, the group honed its spastic-yet-poppy sound. When Jeff Orrall left the band to explore Iceland, Nathan Vasquez entered the band's ranks as their new bassist, and the quartet rechristened themselves Be Your Own Pet, taking the name from a song by fellow Infinity Cat group Art Circus. With a firmly established lineup and new name, Be Your Own Pet began working on demos with a handful of producers, including Jacquire King and Jamin and Jeff's father, singer/songwriter Robert Ellis Orrall. (The rest of BYOP's members also have musical pedigrees: Jemina Pearl's father is rock photographer Jimmy Abegg, Vasquez is the son of guitarist Raphael Vasquez, and Stein's father is manager Burt Stein.) The band released their first single, "Damn Damn Leash" -- a hooky, punky, whip-smart song that echoed the best of Blondie and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs -- as a CD-R on Infinity Cat; the track made its way to BBC Radio One presenter Zane Lowe, whose support for Be Your Own Pet won the band an early U.K. following. Meanwhile, attention-getting gigs at 2004's CMJ and 2005's South by Southwest began creating a buzz for the group stateside. A string of EPs for Rough Trade and XL followed, including a re-release of Damn Damn Leash and Fire Department in 2005, and Let's Get Sandy (Big Problem) early in 2006. Thurston Moore, another early fan, signed Be Your Own Pet to his Ecstatic Peace imprint to release the band's material in the U.S.; Redd Kross' Steve McDonald produced the sessions for the group's full-length debut. Summer Sensation, a collection of Be Your Own Pet's demos and EP tracks, became the band's first widely distributed U.S. release and arrived in spring 2006, just before Adventure was chosen as the lead single from Be Your Own Pet, which was issued that summer. The band returned to the studio in summer 2007, and returned the following spring with Get Awkward, a heavier but still mischievous set of songs inspired by punk, new wave and girl group pop. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi