Music, or so they tell me, is supposed to be fun. If it turns out that’s actually the case, then it’s safe to say that Pets With Human Names are doing it correctly.
The band, a Des Moines power trio consisting of guitarist Alex Nickerson, bassist Andrew Pierson and drummer Benton Schoenrock, is releasing its self-titled debut this week in a show at House of Bricks. It’s a loud, raucous affair, full of fuzzy amps and some Strokes-esque vocals. But more importantly, it’s the culmination of three years worth of effort from three guys who are just in it for the good time.
“I knew Alex from college, and we met Benton at work,” Pierson said. “We used to sit around saying ‘we should start a band, man.’ For a year, it was just drunk talk, then Benton used his tax returns to buy a drum set, and we were off.”
Their first practice space was a rented storage unit in West Des Moines. For the best part of a year, the trio practiced in a tin box with no heat, air conditioning or ear protection.
“Then we started breaking cymbals because it was getting too cold,” Pierson recalled. “So we rented out a little strip mall. It was just three assholes drinking beer and playing music.”
It’s not an origin story that lends itself to an abundance of ego, and that’s served the band well. Take the release show, for example. The band seemed genuinely grateful (and a little surprised) at Bricks’ exuberance for the show, which features Iowa City trio The Savage Hacks, and locals Love Songs For Lonely Monsters.
“We’re excited for both of those bands,” Pierson said. “Even if we suck, it’s fine, because the rest of the show is going to rock.”
Fitting of such an outlook, Pets With Human Names approaches their music with a gusto that is equal parts open Democracy and brute force.
“(Nickerson and Pierson) come up with most of the lyrics. I can’t write,” Schoenrock said, explaining the process. “(But) a lot of times, (songs) will come from a jam. No one ever comes in with a solid idea.”
“We’ve got a lot of puzzle pieces,” Nickerson agreed.
“Except that if we like a piece and it doesn’t really fit, we’ll find a way to make it fit,” Schoenrock added.
“Yeah,” Pierson concluded. “(It’s a) puzzle with a hammer.” CV