Our "Five Minutes With" series brought to you by Original Fuzz contributor Stephanie Nicole Smith is back this month with LA musician Pearl Charles. Read up on her influences, new music, and recent tour with Conor Oberst below! Listen to Pearl's music at pearlcharlesmusic.bandcamp.com and keep up with her musings @pearlcharles. Pearl is playing The Bootleg Theater for GIRLSCHOOL LA Benefit on January 28th.
LA native Pearl Charles has been paving her path musically since 2009. With a brief engagement with The Driftwood Singers and The Blank Tapes, Pearl has since dropped all other projects and focused on her solo career under moniker "Pearl Charles" since 2013. Her current band is nothing short of a superstar line-up including Chris "Dixie" Darley, who plays guitar in Father John Misty, and Connor "Catfish" Gallaher, who plays pedal steel with Calexico. Pearl writes all the songs with a bit of help from producer/engineer Kenny Woods and her bandmates that help shape the sound. Pearl just got back from supporting Conor Oberst and playing Austin City Limits. Check out her website for more upcoming show dates.
How would you describe your current band’s sound?
I think we just realized we live somewhere between Disco and Country! We are pretty partial to 70s rock, and followed a lot of favorite bands into the 80s. Everything from Fleetwood Mac to Tom Petty, The Byrds (and their various members' solo projects—Gene Clark and Gram Parsons), to Neil Young, Dire Straits, and whatever else in-between and beyond.
How and why did you first pick up the guitar?
My older sister started piano lessons when I was four years old, and I begged my parents to let me take them as well. They were wary to start me so early, so they waited until I was five years old, and the rest is history! I was really into musical theater and started singing lessons when I was nine, but a few years later, when I was about 12, my musical interests started to broaden. I started getting interested in more guitar-based pop music and songwriting, so guitar lessons seemed like the natural next musical progression for me.
Who were your main early influences?
Although my first favorite rock band was The Beatles, I feel like the first artists who really influenced me were Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn.
What was your first instrument? Your first guitar or bass?
I'm not proud of it, but my first guitar was a new Yamaha F335 acoustic and my first electric guitar was an Ibanez Les Paul. Gotta start somewhere!
What other instruments do you play?
I dabble in keys and could fake my way through playing bass. I used to play autoharp and drums, but it's been quite a while. Though, I might be able to fake my way through playing drums better than bass.
If you had to pick one pedal you could not live without, which would that be?
My tuner! [Haha.]
Best tour you've been on and why?
We just got off the road opening for Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes on our way out to our first major music festival, Austin City Limits, so that whole run was pretty monumental!
Which players should guitarists study and learn from?
Chris Darrow and Marlin Greene are two of my favorite underrated session guitar players from back in the day, but I also love classics like George Harrison, Lindsey Buckingham, Jerry Garcia, and Neil Young.
Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?
I used to write about relationships a lot when I first started writing, but lately, especially in this political climate, I have been focusing on writing more about spirituality and consciousness.
What's in your record player / headphones this week?
What are you currently working on / any new releases in the works?
My bandmates and I recorded six new tracks over the last couple months, four originals which will be going on my new record, as well as two covers. We plan to spend the remainder of the year continuing to record songs for our new album, which will hopefully be out sometime in 2017!
Where's the best place people can find more information about you / your band?