Quartet continues to 'dance around the rules' on new EP

With Dolores, the excellent new EP from surf-tinged rockers Bummers, the band borrowed a page from the Beach Boys, taking extra time to decorate songs with horns, layered ooh-ooh harmonies and female backing vocals, only to strip these extra bells and whistles from most songs.

“I think every band wants to make its own Pet Sounds. We kind of went in like, ‘Don't be afraid to add anything because we can take it away if it doesn't work,” said singer/guitarist Jeff Pearl during a mid-April interview at a Downtown coffee shop. “With [opening track] ‘Black Halo,' we took a lot out. We added a lot of backup female vocals and ‘ooh oohs' and horns, but after listening it was like, ‘Nah, it's too much. It takes away [from the song].' I really pushed for it, and I had to be a bigger man and be like, ‘Yeah, it doesn't work. Sorry, guys.'”

Some added textures remain — the horns weaving through the summery “The One You Love,” for example — and the experience helped the bandmates expand their musical language, if nothing else.

“[Horn player] Jonathan [Jacky] is so well-trained that it was hard for him to feel our vibe at first. ‘What time is this in? What key? I'm going to start in minor-third.' And I'm like, ‘What?' … I'm not trained that way,” said Pearl, who joins bandmates Chris Steris, Cody Smith and Steven Sikes-Gilbert for an EP release show at Ace of Cups on Saturday, April 22. “I like to do a lot with colors, like, ‘Think of a bright sunburst right here. I want to hear that.' It was cool. He was showing us how music really works and we were showing him how you can kind of dance around the rules.”

The new album, which arrives nearly three years after Bummers released its self-titled full-length in 2014, almost didn't happen at all, according to Pearl, who endured a months-long stretch where he debated if he even wanted to continue making music.

“We took a four-month period almost two years ago where we practiced maybe once a month and let everyone [breathe]. Now everyone is like, ‘Hey man, this is what I want to do in life and here are my goals for the band,' and I think we're all excited again,” Pearl said. “But it's a constant struggle how to play it. There are days where it's like, ‘Shit, I have to pay my mortgage and my car broke down.' Then there are days I wake up and it's like, ‘Dude, let's go. We've got momentum and I'm ready to quit any job.' It's a constant back and forth.”