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BYT Interviews: Pearl and the Beard
November 29, 2012 | 9:00AM

Just before Thanksgiving rolled around, I had a chance to speak with Jeremy Styles and Jocelyn Mackenzie, who make up two-thirds of one of our favorite bands Pearl and the Beard. They’ll be at RNR tonight along with You Won’t and Lucius, and they’ll ALSO be in NYC at the Bell House on Saturday night. To tide you over until showtime, I’d advise you to internet-eavesdrop on our conversation; topics ranged from the Katy Perry movie to paper mache volcanoes, so you are most definitely in for a super enlightening time here. ENJOY!

What’s up! How’s it going?

Jocelyn: We are eating chips and salsa for breakfast, so it’s going pretty great!

Well I ate tortellini for breakfast, so we’re in the same weird, savory boat. So what’s the haps besides chips and salsa? I heard you’re releasing a video for “40K” soon, which is exciting!

Jocelyn: Yes, we’re really excited about that; it should be sometime this week or sometime next week, and yeah, we’re thrilled about it! It came out beautiful, and we’re just waiting for it to drop.

Can you give us any clues about it? Or should we maybe all just be pleasantly surprised?

Jeremy: One word. Titanic.

Jocelyn: That was sarcasm. It has nothing to do with the Titanic. Yeah, I don’t want to be a spoiler, so I’m not going to say anything.

Jeremy: When we were doing little teaser pics and things like that, people were kind of guessing what was happening, and they’d be like, “Oh, I guess it’s about ____” and we’d be like, “Well, I guess that’s out now.” But if you don’t know, then good!

Jocelyn: Yeah, we’ll keep it a secret.

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We’ll keep it under wraps for sure. But yeah, I’ve been reading up on all your tweets, and I see you guys are fans of the “Kill, Fuck, Marry” game. SO, I’m going to turn one of the most recent ones around on you: Martha Stewart, Hillary Clinton, Oprah.

Jocelyn: Jeremy and I probably have different answers for this. See, the problem is, I don’t really want to kill any of them, so please make that very clear. However, if I had to kill one, I would probably kill…ugh, I love Martha so much! Jeremy, you go first.

Jeremy: Who is it again? Martha, Hillary and Oprah?

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Jeremy: Ughhhh.

See, you guys proposed the situation in the first place, so it’s not my fault.

Jocelyn: True.

Jeremy: This game is like, “Would you rather die of cancer or be burned alive?” It’s terrible. I guess I would maybe marry Oprah, kill Hillary and then bone old Martha.

Jocelyn: I could see you and Martha having a good time.

Jeremy: I bet she makes a mean sandwich after.

Jocelyn: There you go!

She probably keeps a pretty tidy house, too. Nice environment for that.

Jocelyn: Exactly.

Jeremy: We’ve also exhausted a lot of our celebrity options, so when we play, we’ve kind of gotten down to like, inanimate objects and concepts. So it’ll be like, Jeremy’s foot stink, somebody’s rancid underwear after running, or like, George Washington’s teeth.

Yeah, I saw the one with the bacon, popcorn, or bacon popcorn as options. See, I like to do it with the different Whole Foods stores in New York.

Jeremy: How many are there now?

I think there’s like five now.

Jocelyn: There’s a Whole Foods at Houston Street, a Whole Foods at Union Square, and Whole Foods Columbus Circle?

Yeah, and then there’s Tribeca, Chelsea, and they’re putting one in Brooklyn soon, apparently.

Jeremy: Do you live in Brooklyn?

I do! I live in the sprawling paradise that is Bushwick.

Jeremy: BOOM! I’m around there, too.

Yeah, there’s an IHOP right near me. Glamorous.

Jeremy: Yeah, I think that’s the problem with where we live, is that there’s not a ton of good spots to take someone out to brunch.

You know, maybe after you’ve wooed them all night long, your arsenal’s kind of gone because there’s nowhere to eat in the morning. I guess you just kind of have to make food.

Jocelyn: Yeah, if you woo Martha Stewart all night long she’s going to be really disappointed. You can’t take her to the IHOP.

Jeremy: And I can’t give her the peanuts in my house, either, which are all I have.

You could take her to Food Bazaar and have her whip up something crazy!

Jeremy: BOOM! How about some cactus, Martha?

Exactly. Some delicious nopales. Okay, so ALSO, I saw on Twitter that you may or may not have received a copy of Katy Perry’s Part of Me complete with 3D glasses, so did you watch that?

Jeremy: So my mom every once in a while (she lives in California) will call me if she’s walking around Walmart and she’ll be in the movie section and be like, “Do you want any of these movies?” And she asked me about the Katy Perry one, and I had actually planned to see it in theaters secretly, but we were just gone so much I never had a chance to do it. So I was like, “Sure, why not?” But I don’t know what the 3D glasses are for, because this movie is not in 3D. I don’t have a 3D television, so it’s not really clear why I got those.

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I saw it in theaters with my friend Alex. He was like, “LET’S GO SEE THE KATY PERRY MOVIE IN 3D!” And for some reason we thought it would be crowded with like, fans or whatever, but it was just us, this one guy sitting alone, and then two girls, and that was it for the whole theater. We thought it’d be fun to commentate the whole time, but everyone was taking it really seriously. But it actually gets a little emotional! Because at first I was like, this is just going to be hilarious and weird, but then her marriage starts to unravel or whatever…

Jeremy: Yeah, like when she’s lying down on the couch and there’s like, literally 40,000 people waiting for her to go out, and she’s like, “I don’t even know if I can do this.”

RIGHT! I was like, I feel for you, Katy Perry. Anyways, that’s great that you own it on DVD. SO, next I am going to do this thing where I ask you some questions I developed based very superficially on some of your song titles. And the first one is based on “Douglas Douglass,” so the question is: Do you know how to dougie, and if not, would you be open to the idea of someone teaching you how to dougie?

Jocelyn: Guess what! The answer is no, none of us know how to dougie, but we’re in Boston right now, and we’re staying with our friend Jonathan Schoeck who did the illustrations for the Prodigal Daughter EP cover and the posters, and he’s in a great band based out of Boston called Larcenist. Anyway, he used to be a breakdancing B-Boy, and whenever we come over we talk about dance moves with him. So you asked the perfect question for where we are, because if anyone’s going to teach us how to dougie, he totally knows how to dougie, and he could teach us if we wanted to learn from him.

That’s amazing! Yeah, I can’t pick up choreography for the life of me, so I think even if I were willing to learn how to dougie, I don’t think that’d be a wise move on my part.

Jocelyn: Yes, we are open to dougie-ing.

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Good. Well the next one is for “Hot Volcano.” So, growing up, TV and movies always made it seem like the paper mache volcano was THE go-to science project for everyone ever, so I always wanted to build one as a kid. My question for you is: did YOU guys ever build an impressive paper mache volcano in the name of science?

Jocelyn: Yes! I totally did! I made one in sixth grade, and it wasn’t even for school; I just wanted to make one really badly. (Laughs) And I remember my mom wouldn’t let me do it in the house, because she didn’t like cleaning up after the messes that other people made, which is understandable. So she made me do it outside, and I got this table, and I made this whole thing, and I BEGGED my mom to buy food coloring, which, it only cost like a dollar, but for some reason it was one of those things she’d never spend money on. But I convinced her to buy food coloring, and I made my volcano purple, because I’d always kind of wanted to see a purple volcano, and then I invited my friend over because we were going to do it together. And the explosion…I think what I did was I made the actual cavern too deep, like I used a soda bottle and had cut the top off, and it was too deep and the mouth was too wide, so it didn’t get any of the eruption qualities that I wanted. It just kind of fizzed over the side, and it was so disappointing! (Laughs) But it was purple.

Which is all that matters! How about you, Jeremy?

Jeremy: I never did one. I just did the little tornado where you take two 2-Liter bottles and put them together and spin the water around inside. And then I looked up facts about tornadoes because I was forced to. But it was interesting, and then Twister came out shortly after that.

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Oh, Twister. What quality cinema that is.

Jocelyn: I thought you were talking about the game. (Laughs)

Alright, so the next one is “Voice In My Throat,” and obviously you guys already have really nice voices, but if someone put a spell on you and you woke up with a new voice, whose would you hope it would be?

Jeremy: James Earl Jones.

Jocelyn: Soterios Johnson.

Well as long as it’s not Gilbert Gottfried…

Jocelyn: (Laughs) I love how we both just had instant answers.

Jeremy: Wait, who’s Soterios Johnson?

Jocelyn: Soterios Johnson is the morning news anchor on WNYC. (Laughs) He’s a guy. I wouldn’t have a singing career anymore, but…

Jeremy: Yeah, me neither. I would just do a lot of voice-overs. Or be James Earl Jones’ understudy. I remember growing up I actually thought I would get that low voice.

Maybe one day. It could still happen. Okay, so the next one is for “Mistakes,” and this one could be a little more serious than the first three, but what are some of the mistakes you’ve made (if any) career-wise that you might warn other people against who are just starting out?

Jocelyn: That’s a great question.

Jeremy: Oh man. Damn you! (Laughs) Making me get all existential right now!

Jocelyn: It’s a really good question. Mostly because we’re flawless and we’ve never made any mistakes…(Laughs)

Oh yeah, totally.

Jocelyn: Well, one thing that kind of comes to mind is…how do I say this…it sounds kind of trite, but trusting your instincts is really important. So if something smells fishy, it probably is. When we started out four and a half years ago, the music industry was different then. It was just a short time ago, but things were definitely different; I mean, people were still using Myspace to find each other, you know? Things have changed very dramatically since then, and so I think because of that, musicians are kind of thrown into this world where some people (be it fans or labels or managers or whoever) are just trying to cling onto a model that’s totally obsolete. Some people are more willing to be creative and innovative, and are aware of the changes that are happening, and they try to work with them instead of fighting against them. And I think that maybe one mistake that we made was trying to hang onto that old model for too long, just because we didn’t feel like we knew enough to make our own decisions; we felt kind of tethered to people who we thought had the answers, but really no one knows the answer, and no one knows what’s best for you and your band better than you. So you have to trust yourself, and trust yourself that you’re smart. Not just trust your instincts, but trust that you’re smart and that you know what’s best for yourself, because that’s the best way that you could possibly spread your music. It took us a long time to feel comfortable with that, and so that would be the mistake, then; I wish that we’d felt more confident.

Good answer, good answer.

Jeremy: One of the mistakes I’ve made and that I continuously make is that I focus on a lot of the people around, like my contemporaries; I get caught up or defeated when somebody’s just totally taken off or whatever, and it’s tough finding the balance between pushing yourself to be better, versus being crippled and thinking, you know, “I’m not good.” Just with obsessing over Facebook likes or Twitter followers has gotten to the point where it occupies so much space in my mind that it’s wasted good creative energy I think. So I don’t know how I would ever rectify that, because I got into this business sort of with that excitement of all the flashy-dashy stuff, but then after a while I kind of learned that it was a very different experience, and one that is very and wholly unique to me and the two people I play with every single night, compared to anybody else. And so I can’t sort of ever fit into that mold, and I should never try to fit into any sort of mold, and just try and relax. Just be myself, be ourselves, and as Jocelyn said, go with our instincts.

Yeah, I think a lot of people get caught in that trap of thinking it’s going to be one way, and then quickly realizing that it isn’t. So yeah, being yourself, trusting instincts, those are all very important things.

Jeremy: Yeah, and with relationships, too. I mean, all we have to go on are the relationships we have with other people around us, but they don’t know what you’re doing. And there are some common threads that are the same across the board, but every situation is so ridiculously unique, and we’re all grasping it in the dark, occasionally feeling each other up on accident. (Laughs)

Jocelyn: Good question!

Jeremy: Yeah, good question!

Yeah, I try, I try.

Jocelyn: Good idea with the song questions, too.

Well, we’re about to segue out of them with “I Heart New York,” for which the question is this: what is the first thing you usually do when you finish a tour and get to come back to New York? Sleep, I’m guessing, and then what?

Jeremy: We show our loved ones that we appreciate them, and that we missed them. (Laughs) I usually will unpack, and then lay on my bed for a second and then try to refocus. I usually do literally nothing, like watch a movie, get a taco from my local taco stand.

Jocelyn: My husband will make me a dinner of pretty much all vegetables, and sometimes a grain. But we like to just reconnect over a very, very healthy meal, because that’s not usually something that we ever get on the road.

Jeremy: I also kind of avoid humans for a little while as much as I can, because you’re just surrounded by people constantly, staying in host homes and being like, “HELLO, HI!” and kind of slightly raising your voice like, “HOW ARE YOU?! HI! I’M NOT THREATENING! THANK YOU FOR OPENING YOUR HOME TO US!” So I just like to be completely selfish by sitting at home and relaxing for at least a couple days, and then I can go back out and talk to folks.

Yeah, I feel that. I was actually going to ask you about the food thing, though; I’m sure there are plenty of options (healthy or unhealthy) on the road, but I did see that you guys were in Tennessee and North Carolina a lot for gigs in October…did you eat any mind-blowing barbecue? Or are you guys even into that in the first place?

Jocelyn: Oh, we did, actually. We had some really amazing barbecue in Nashville…

Jeremy: Yeah, it was called Rooster or Cocky’s or something…I don’t know, but it was really, really good, and pretty affordable. Also, that have this weird open-mic thing happening; there’s music everywhere in Nashville all the time, but yeah, they have a weird open-mic where they have a band back these young hopefuls while they sing.

Jocelyn: Yeah, we were eating brisket and watching that.

Jeremy: And they were like, “Get up! Everybody! C’mon, clap your hands!” And it was like, “I kind of just want to stuff my face with barbecue right now…” And then in North Carolina we had some things…there was this chocolate place that gave us chocolate. There’ve been people that have been like, “Come to my restaurant, I want to feed you guys!” And we’re like, “Awesome!”

Jocelyn: “Yay!”

That’s a nice little perk!

Jocelyn: Yeah, the food situation on tour is far less dismal than it was a year ago where we were like, “Okay, we have a $10 per day budget each.” So we’d be eating like, Cup O Noodles at the gas station. I mean, we still do that sometimes, but not as often as we used to have to.

Jeremy: It’s one of my favorite activities, is standing eating one of those beef stews in a gas station. (Laughs)

Lovely ambiance. So, being that it’s the season of Thanksgiving, let’s go around the telephone-room and say what we’re all (and by “we” I mean “you guys”) are most thankful for.

Jeremy: I think I’m really thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had, some that I’ve taken on my own, and some that I was just kind of given, to go to the places I’ve been and meet the people that I’ve met and think the way I think.

Jocelyn: I’m most thankful for the people in my life that support me unconditionally, the main person being my husband, who’s just so amazingly supportive and patient. You know, a lot of my family doesn’t really understand what we do, but they know that I love doing what I do, and so does my husband, and they are just so unconditionally supportive. I would be a total wreck if it wasn’t for that! (Laughs)

Totally. Well, any final words of wisdom or general thoughts for the people of America and/or the universe?

Jeremy: Frequently visit Brightest Young Things.

GOOD ANSWER.

Jeremy: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined. There was a nice little quote I read somewhere that was like, “Shape your world or someone else will.” You know, a lot of times people just kind of go with the flow, which is easy and fine, but you have the opportunity to do whatever the hell you want.

Jocelyn: Yeah, don’t mess up.

Jeremy: Do what you want to do, and expect that it’s going to be completely different from anything you ever imagined.

Jocelyn: Also, come to our shows.

Jeremy: Come to every single one of our shows and bring 8000 of your friends.

BOOM! You heard them; wrangle up your friends and head over to RNR tonight in DC, and/or to the Bell House Saturday night in NYC. SEE YOU THERE!

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