Pet Rock live by @gabelugophotos
Pet Rock live by @gabelugophotos
New Music

Tampa rock’n’rollers PET ROCK discuss evolution, honesty, and finding their voice in the ‘Revolutions’ era

7 mins read

In today’s saturated music landscape, where countless artists vie for fleeting attention, Tampa’s indie rock’n’roll band, Pet Rock, navigates their own path. With their new release, “Revolutions,” we uncover the narrative of a band that channeled the stillness of the COVID lockdown into resonant tracks.

Amidst the stillness of global lockdowns, Pet Rock found its inception in a quiet corner of Tampa. The isolation, instead of stifling, became a fertile ground for creativity. One member remarked, “With not much else to do, the isolation nudged me into a creative mindset.”

It began with Jon, who’s passionate about drums, setting the foundation. He reconnected with Jared, a former collaborator, to handle the bass. After a bit of musical chairs, Juan stepped in with his guitar, rounding out the ensemble. The amalgamation of their varied musical backgrounds gave birth to a sound that subtly acknowledges rock legends like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath, while also nodding to contemporary influences from the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and The Strokes.

Their initial offering, “King Sad,” was an experimental blend of styles. However, their upcoming “Revolutions” reveals a more focused band. The guitar-driven tracks, heavy with riffs, seem to echo their introspective journeys during these trying times.

Tampa’s punk rock ambiance played a part in this evolution. The close-knit musical community there paved the way for collaborations and artistic growth. Local bands, particularly ‘Bill.’ and ‘Hollyglen,’ come highly recommended by the trio for those eager to explore the scene further.

In today’s digital deluge, standing out is a challenge Pet Rock is acutely aware of. While they leverage the reach of social media, they’re of the belief that the magic truly happens in the raw energy of live performances. As they look to the future, whispers suggest a heavier tone might infuse their tracks, influenced by their love for hardcore.

But for now, all ears are on “Revolutions.” And as we await its release, an upcoming chat with the band promises deeper insights into their journey and their music.

Check out our full conversation below.

Pet Rock by @gabelugophotos
Pet Rock by @gabelugophotos

The formation of Pet Rock was born out of the constraints of the COVID lockdown. Can you dive into that time for you personally and how isolation became a catalyst for musical creation?

I saw the isolation as an opportunity to explore my creativity. There wasn’t much else to do, so the freedom it provided pushed me into a more creative headspace.

How did the current lineup of Pet Rock come together? Was there a shared vision or musical background that united you all?

The band officially got going when our drummer, Jon, reached out to me asking if I was planning on doing anything with the demos I had shown him earlier that year. I met him when we briefly played together in a different project with a mutual friend. If it weren’t for Jon, I probably wouldn’t have done anything with Pet Rock. He recommended Jared to play bass, which was a no brainer since he and I had played together in my last serious band, The Blonde Tongues. It took us longest to find a second guitarist. After a lineup change early this year, we found Juan, and he’s been a great fit.

We all come from different musical backgrounds, but I think we do share a common goal in trying to bring something fresh and new to the scene.

“King Sad” was described as a compilation of exploratory tracks that spanned various styles. What were some of the major influences or emotions driving the diverse sounds of that release?

I know I was listening to a lot of power pop and shoegaze around that time. I would hear a song I liked and think, “I wonder if I could do a song like that,” and then try to make my version of it. I kinda saw it as a challenge. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would ever release any of them. I was just having fun with it.

Pet Rock by @gabelugophotos
Pet Rock by @gabelugophotos

You mentioned the journey of finding a sound that feels more honest for Pet Rock. What does that “honesty” sound and feel like for you, and how does it manifest in “Revolutions”?

I think going back to a more guitar-based rock and roll sound with more riffing is what feels right for me. I’ve always been a guitarist first and a singer second, so I started writing the songs from that perspective. I found that when I sat down to write, songs like Wait a Minute and Pick-Me-Up would materialize much faster than some of my older material. It’s not always about how fast a song comes together, but it definitely is a good indication in a lot of cases.

You’ve cited classic rock legends such as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath as foundational to your playing style. How do you strike a balance between paying homage to these greats and ensuring Pet Rock has a distinctive, contemporary voice?

So I never want to blatantly copy the artists I love. I know whatever that produces will never come out as good anyway. If I’m going to do it, I definitely prefer to pay homage more subtly. But I think a big part of what keeps my songs sounding contemporary, is the drums. I always like to keep them pretty involved, and constantly evolving throughout a song. In a lot of ways, that’s a big part of how I write. I never like to do the same trick twice. If I’m going to repeat a part, something about it has to be different the second or third time I play it. I feel like it keeps a song feeling fresh.

You mentioned being inspired by bands like Queens of the Stone Age and The Strokes. How do these modern rock influences blend with your classic rock roots, especially in “Revolutions”?

So I think that these bands are what keep me from only having classic roots. They bring in influences that allow me to add a more contemporary voice to my music. These 2 bands are very influential for me in different ways. Queens of the Stone Age really has inspired my guitar style. Josh Homme writes parts that could have been very simple or conventional, but then adds a weird little twist to keep them interesting. The Strokes have really influenced my vocal style. I love Julian Casablancas’ minimalist approach to his vocals. As a guitarist first, this approach really allows me a way to let the music breathe a bit more.

The term “Revolutions” implies a sense of change, transformation, or perhaps a cycle. Can you shed light on the significance of the title for this EP?

So I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head with your interpretation. The title speaks to the transformation in the style, but also some of the themes in the songs like self-doubt or depression. I feel like if you let them, these things come again and again in cycles until you’re able to break yourself out of them.

How has the process of songwriting and collaboration evolved for Pet Rock from “King Sad” to “Revolutions”?

I would say that the biggest difference is the first record was really focused on the singing and was very vocal-centric. I was a brand new singer, so I was really trying to see what I could do with my voice. I think now I’m a bit more secure with my voice, so I don’t mind the vocals having less of the spotlight in lieu of the instruments.

Tampa has a rich musical scene. How has the local punk rock environment shaped Pet Rock‘s growth and direction? Any notable experiences or collaborations from playing in Tampa?

I would say that if it weren’t for the help of friends in this scene, that our band would not exist. The Tampa scene is a bit incestuous in that people play in multiple bands. Because of this, I feel like everybody knows everybody. It’s really a tight knit community with a lot of different opportunities to connect with other artists.

Are there any local bands or artists in the Tampa scene you’d recommend we should check out?

Definitely check out Bill. and Hollyglen. Those are the bands that our bassist and drummer are in, respectively. Both are really solid.

The digital age has both facilitated and complicated the journey for independent artists. How does Pet Rock navigate the overwhelming surge of new music released daily? Any strategies you’ve found effective for standing out?

We were actually gonna ask if you had any advice haha. In all seriousness, we try the best we can to break through all the noise out there, but with the ever changing landscape of social media and the algorithm, it makes it really tough. For us, the best we can really do is strive to make music that really stands out.

With the rise of streaming platforms and social media, how does Pet Rock utilize these tools not just for promotions but also for building genuine connections with your audience?

I think we go about it by trying to let our true personalities shine through. It is difficult, though. I’d much rather make connections at shows, but right now everything is online.

Going forward, as you anticipate more evolutions in Pet Rock‘s sound, where do you see the band’s trajectory? Are there specific themes, genres, or sounds you’re keen to explore in the future?

I can see me adding more heavy elements into the songs. It was something I was a little scared of doing at first. I didn’t want to scare people away. In addition to classic rock, I listen to a lot of heavy bands. I also used to play in a hardcore band years ago, so it’s something else that naturally bleeds into my style.

Lastly, live performances often offer a raw, unfiltered connection between a band and its audience. What can we expect from a Pet Rock live show post the release of “Revolutions”?

I think that I would describe a Pet Rock show as energetic, loud, and loose. I think people want to be entertained when they go out. They don’t wanna see a band that looks stiff onstage. Even if the songs sound great. I think a lot bands have lost the art of being loud and have really lost the energy. It was actually one of my biggest reasons for wanting to start a band. So many bands I saw live were just boring to watch or listen to. It may sound corny, but I wanna make fun, energetic music that makes you want to step on the gas and drive over the speed limit.

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