Testing Boundaries | Be Your Own Pet

I kind of cringe now sometimes and it almost doesn’t feel right that it’s happened so fast.



Something about discussing favorite curse words ignites the pilot light in Be Your Own Pet bassist Nathan Vasquez and you can instantly imagine him sucker-punching Kenny Chesney outside the Ryman or laughing at Cowboy Troy’s boots as he passed by Earl Tubbs’ Record Shop. He’s got a well of that good old adolescent angst that’s only expanded, like a bag of microwave popcorn whose time’s almost up, with the increased interaction with elders and fakers.

“I like mung,” Vasquez says.

“Is that even a cuss word?” guitarist Jonas Stein questions.

“Yeah, it’s a cuss word,” he answers, then asks, “Hey dude, do you know what mung means?”

I’m afraid to ask, aware that these are punk rock kids, probably with spoiled hearts, probably with an awe for shock value, definitely abhorrent of boundaries and definitely baiting.

“It’s when you press down on a pregnant woman’s stomach,” he says. “It’s what comes out.”

Stein just went with the universal “cock,” but Vasquez’s choice gives insight into the freewheeling minds of a band that has been heaped with praise and dismissively barbed attacks since it released a pair of attitude-packed EPs in 2005. They write songs that warn you to give them their space, explain that they’re not what you think they are and that they don’t need you bossing them around all the goddamn time.

We’re dealing with teenagers here. Teenagers who have been championed, slammed, and scrutinized by their hometown of Nashville, Tenn. It’s hard even to imagine saying the name of the country music capital of the world without dressing it up with that little ribbon of twangy flair that gives the town its cowboyed and cowgirled allure.

“When it started for me, personally, it was exciting,” Stein said. “I kind of cringe now sometimes and it almost doesn’t feel right that it’s happened so fast. We were on the cover of Nashville Scene last year, before anyone knew who we were, and there was a big backlash from the older crowd in Nashville. A lot of people were gossiping on the Internet, on all these blogs. There was this huge, huge discussion about this article. Being 16 and 17 and reading all these things was kind of confusing.”

Lead singer Jemina Pearl Abegg has Wendy O. Williams and Juliette Lewis in her limbs and the music is perfectly flawed, capturing the seminal sprouts of rebellion. But a reckless reputation gets checked at the stage.

“Our parents come with us on the road,” Stein said. “So it’s not like we can get away with anything.”

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