The cover for Pearls' debut album, Pretend You're Mine – which was released at the end of last week – is one of the best I've seen in I-don't-know-how-long. It features the two female members of the trio, Ellice Blakeney and Cassandra Kiely reclining against a light purple backdrop, clad in white lace, with their hair all brushed out, and resembling deranged '70s angels or something, the likes of which we haven't seen since Stevie Knicks' wedding-dress-with-rose ensembles.
The reason this album cover is so great isn't just that it's aesthetically pleasing (I'm partial to lavender), it's that it evokes, with precision, the epically sexy-chill mood Pretend You're Mine puts you in. Sounding like The Cars diverged into Australian alt. rock territory, Pearls sidles into your conscious like a great night out (which they are also perfect musical accompaniment for): they start slowly, steadily, before blowing the hell up, reminding you why you came out in the first place. Here's one third of the band, Ryan Caesar, to tell us what they're all about.
Hey Ryan! How are you? How's Melbourne today?
Hi, I'm good! Melbourne's good. It's overcast, but nice.
Excellent. So, can you run me through your musical background and how Pearls came to be?
Yeah, totally. Ellice (Blakeney) and I met in Sydney. We met and I don't know, I can't really remember what happened...she owned a clothing store up there, and I kept getting friend requests from this weird clothes store on Facebook and I was like "nah, they just want to advertise", and kept knocking them back. Then I worked it out and was like "Omg it's that hot chick from the bloody clip we were working on" and quickly accepted her friend request.
Then she moved down to Melbourne, started working at another store and met Cass (Kiely) there, and they became best friends. Then we just started a band.
Sweet! Had you guys all been in bands before?
Yeah yeah, I've played in a bunch of bands before, but it's actually their first band, which is pretty crazy considering literally at the first rehersal they were like "well, what do you want to play?"
So that's it, pretty much.
Cool! What music did you guys bond over?
I guess we all like really similar things, but we all also like really different things, which is good but also hard – there's a lot of fights haha.
I was really into Twin Peaks at the time, actually, and one of my favourite guitarists of all time is Rowland S Howard from the Birthday Party, who also had his own solo stuff which is incredible. Cass and I bonded over that kind of stuff, and then Ellice is deeply into '60s psych and that, so that all got thrown together.
We're all into loads of stuff – just good things.
Just good stuff, haha.
Haha, yeah, if something's good, we like it.
Great! And you're just about to release your debut album, right?
Yeah, it's streaming on Nylon in the States at the moment, and it'll be out everywhere this Friday (February 20th).
It's crazy because it took us like a year to record. It was not the swift experience we expected.
Yeah, I was reading another interview where you said it was a drawn-out process. Why did it take so long?
Well, we had a bunch of songs, and a few of them either didn't work for the album or we had too much work to do on them – it was almost just an idea, and we'd have to built it up too much.
From when we first started recording the album to when we finished, it changed so much. We really got to decide what we did and didn't like, and the whole band changed really. At the start of the album we would never have a song like Big Shot, and then by the end we did, and that's the direction we're moving into – we're going in a dancier direction.
Did you work with anyone on recording it?
Yeah, our friend Haima Marriott, which is spelled H-A-I-M-A – I saw some guy spell it Hammer the other day, which is incorrect haha – and he spent so much time on it, which is incredible. He's one of those guys who understands electronics, and his attention to detail is ridiculous, and he had a lot to do with everything. He was there more than any of us – on a day I wasn't there, he'd still be there.
Going into the album, or even now that it's finished, can you pinpoint a theme or story that runs across the album?
There's a lot of songs about places. Albion, the second song is a street I used to live in in Brunswick. They're all about the past couple of years I guess, and I've done a lot of different things, not all good. There's a lot of complaining. Most songs are me complaining about something.
It's your outlet for the rage haha.
Yeah! I'm just trying to make it sound a bit more discreet, but now I'm telling everyone about it anyway.
There's a really broad spectrum of experiences that led to all the songs.
I think the next album will be a bit more cohesive in terms of themes, but like I said, this is all me complaining, which is a theme – the main theme in fact – for this album.
Tell me about the visuals for the band, because they're pretty definitive, right?
I think it's just what happens. People who hang around each other end up doing similar things. The girls have got a really similar style and I spend a lot of time with them and they'll tell me very quickly whether something looks good or not haha. And I listen to them!
It's really important to us. Even some of the bands we all like placed a lot of importance on how they looked, for example Roxy Music – anyone, that's good, really.
Well it adds to the experience, right? When I know an artist has thought about the videos and the album artwork it paints a much more vivid picture of what they're about.
Yeah it gives everything an atmosphere. The important thing about the album artwork is that it paints a picture before you even hear it – you look at it and it gives a completely different angle to the songs, and you think about them differently to how you'd think about them if you hadn't seen the artwork.
So I'm based in Sydney, but a lot of the bands I end up wanting to interview are based in Melbourne. What's the scene like there at the moment? Do you exist within a group of friendly bands?
Well, Melbourne's kinda a small place, so you eventually end up meeting everyone around the place at some point. I donno, we've played with a lot of different bands!
I really like the White Hex record that came out about six months ago, and they're playing our Melbourne launch. Geoff O'Conner is really great, he's around. There are so many bands! The last Total Control record is really great is beyond, it's really really good.
We live in Fitzroy / Collingwood area, and Brunswick before that so you just literally see everyone.
And where to from here? You guys are doing album release shows?
Yes, we're playing Thursday 19th March in Sydney, and Friday 20th March in Melbourne. They're both in March – March is next month, right?
Yeah, March is next month, nice work.
Are you going to go overseas? Because you've been getting quite good international press.
Yeah, we really need to get on to it, because we'd love to. We'd really like to go to the States as a band. We've been getting great stuff happening over there.
Streaming your album on Nylon as the pre-release is pretty epic, right?
Yeah it's so good. It's So. Good.
Pearls are playing two album release shows next month:
FRI 27TH FEBRUARY
Camp Casual, Gippsland
THU 19TH MARCH
with Special Guests
SAT 21ST MARCH
The Curtin, Melbourne
with Special Guests
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