Bands to Watch 2014: Bummers

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From the January 23, 2014 edition

Despite labeling themselves Bummers, the members of the surf-garage quartet first got together a little more than a year ago purely with good times in mind.

“We wanted to be a party band and play house shows,” said singer/guitarist Jeff Pearl, 31, who is joined in the group by longtime friends Chris Steris, Steven Sikes-Gilbert and Cody Smith. “The whole idea was that it was going to be fun. Everyone’s in that wants to be in. Everyone’s a Bummer.”

The band’s music, in turn, is almost universally upbeat, piling on fuzzed-out rock riffs that come on like they were laid to tape during a daylong bash at a dingy ocean-side retreat (which helps explain why Pearl described its sound as “beach fuzz”). Lyrically, however, the songs delve far deeper than the party-friendly vibe might suggest.

On “Lucky,” Pearl suffers through an early-life crisis of sorts, attempting to reconcile his friends’ successes with his own career struggles (at the time the now-educator was working two jobs while trying to plot his next move). Then there’s “Uh Huh,” which the singer penned at the tail end of a rocky relationship, frustrated by his ex’s ability to completely shut herself off emotionally.

“It’s like when you talk to someone and they’re like, ‘Uh huh, right,’ and just tuning you out,” he said. “I’ve got a [new] girlfriend now, and I’m happy, but I think that [frustration] is good fuel for writing.”

Other tunes are more closely aligned with Bummers’ good-time roots. “Spaceman,” a more recent song Pearl described as “slow and trippy,” emerged from a wild night in Athens that involved a run-in with police and ended at 3 a.m. with the singer clad in nothing more than a bathing suit.

“We’ve all had bad relationships. We’ve all worked jobs that are just driving us into the ground. But there are good times in that, too,” Pearl said. “So with all that going on you write about the times you do get to cut loose. We’re going camping [in mid-January] and I’m sure 10 songs will come out of that because we’ve finally got days off, so it’s like, ‘Let’s party!’”