Published on May 14th, 2016 | by Denise Borders
New Interview with PEARS Frontman, Zach Quinn
In their non-stop tour around the world, Pears visited Amsterdam where Quirijn Foeken talked to frontman Zach Quinn about their work ethic, their new record Green Star and the meaning of his lyrics. Check out the interview below.
Before we start the interview, we decided to take some pictures outside and we start talking about the well documented incident where Zach punched the stage and broke his hand. He is still wearing a cast and says he can take it of tomorrow. He decide to take the cast of now so we can take a picture of his hand. That was some punch.
How is the tour going? When I look at your tour dates I can only imagine it must be exhausting.
It’s daunting. I try not to look at the whole schedule but think about in chunks. We have five more European dates and two in the States. So I try to just think ‘seven shows and I’m home’. But we will leave again after eight days.
But you choose to do this, right?
In an way. It’s not comfortable. By no means am I doing this because it’s the funnest option that I have. Traveling is fun but in this volume it’s hard. But I am choosing to do it because I believe very much in what we do. Pears is something, for whatever reason, I believe in with all my heart. So I owe it to the band.
So what do you do when you come home?
I know what’s going to happen. I get home, I lay around in my bed. I will try to exercise some. And I’ll have just enough time to decompress a bit, and then we’ll leave again. It’s not enough time to feel comfortable, to go out and see friends.
When did you find the time to write the Green Star record?
We actually wrote a lot of it on the road. I remember me and Brain wrote specific parts in Germany last year. I remember writing the verse progression of Doorbell on a boat. I think we were leaving the UK. I remember that I wrote a bunch a lyrics in the van. And we did a lot of writing before we went in to record the album. We sat at my grandparents house for weeks and we crunched. Writing and writing and rewriting on the stuff we created on the road.
That’s sounds like a puzzle.
Yes exactly. Brain always refers to it as a puzzle. We have all these different fragments and try to put them together in something that functions properly.
Go To Prison was maybe a bit more straightforward but Green Star is a really dense record. I remember when I put it on and after 15 seconds I already heard four different riffs.
Yeah and the way that we wrote it has a lot to do with that. If we would dissect those songs now we would be like: ‘this piece we wrote in March, and this bit was written in August’. And that’s the reason we have these huge turns in the songs. If we would write a song in one sitting it would probably have more of a pop-structure. But I really like the record for what it is. I am very happy with it. I can’t say how we would do the next one though.
So do you write all the time?
I go through periods where I write a lot but I think Brian is writing all the time. I actually recorded a solo-record that was announced today.
The Green Star record has some hidden references in it. So far I heard Blink 182, Nirvana and The Beatles. Are there any more?
The line ‘what we do is secret’ in Snowflake is a Germs reference. And the end of Cloverleaf is Hybrid Moments from the Misfits. Starts singing ‘give me a moment’.
I read that the lyrics on Go To Prison had a lot to do with getting sober.
Yeah, there were a lot of lyrics about cleaning up.
So what is this record about then?
When I was writing it there were things happening to me: I was having relationship issues and I was dealing with my grandfather becoming really ill. So a lot of the lyrics have to do with death. And because I was having relationship issues a lot of it has to do with feeling alone. So that turned into this record about being afraid of dying alone. I don’t really know. Most of the lyrics are abstract and just describe the way I feel. I don’t process how I feel with words: I see images. And I tried to describe those images. It’s like a waking dream journal. If you are looking for literal meaning in a Pears song you might not find it. I like to think about it as storytelling with moods.
So it’s like a painting? Because when I read the lyrics I saw this person being in a hell like environment.
Yes, that is essentially what it is. As that was starting to take shape in my head, like this walking through hell, I looked at the Divine Comedy by Dante and starting to ascribe names to things. Like Great Mt. Ida is a mountain on Crete but it’s also a mountain in the seventh layer of hell in the Divine Comedy. But there is no concrete meaning. I like to think that somebody will listen to it and imagine things themselves. It means what you want it to.
Do you read your own lyrics and think: wow, that is dark?
Yeah sometimes. I stopped expecting myself to write happy songs. So I am no longer surprised. But I am trying to interpret the lyrics myself was well. It’s just as much a journey for me.
So what does the title Green Star mean?
When I started imagining all this I imagined following a green star at the suggestion of the moon. And the green star was above the great mountain and the green star represented freedom from hell. But I think the moon is lying to me. I think that it’s all a ruse. I think freedom exists within all of us. It’s more about Go To Prison then what that means. The title Go To Prison is not literal at all: it’s birth. It’s the idea that your own mind is a prison because you can never share your headspace with someone else. It can either be a prison or you can allow yourself to be free.
And following the Green Star is the wrong path?
Yes, we are already free.
That’s almost a religious or maybe anti-religious metaphor.
That’s a solid point. It’s the idea that people use religion to chase comfort but the comfort exists within themselves but they haven’t looked yet.
I can only imagine what the next record is going to be about.
I have no idea man. I think the next one could only be about accepting. There is no acceptance on Green Star, there is no catharsis. Well, maybe at the end but that is saying that there is freedom in death. But that sucks!
After this interview I witnessed my first Pears concert. I was probably the most energetic thing I ever saw. It was a pure burst of energy contained in 40 minutes of madness. Zach jumped and rolled on the stage like a mad men. Between songs, guitarist Brian Pretus said some things rather unintelligible before diving head first in another super fast-paced song, even faster then on the records. Needless to say: it was amazing.