Be Your Own Pet: Teenage Abandon Be Your Own Pet's music has been described as punk, garage rock and just plain fun. It certainly hits all the right notes, with songs about zombies and food fights. But three songs on the band's second CD, Get Awkward, were deemed too violent for U.S. distribution by executives at its label.

Be Your Own Pet: Teenage Abandon

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The Nashville-based band Be Your Own Pet has been described as punk, garage rock and just plain fun.

(Soundbite of song, "The Kelly Affair")

Ms. JEMINA PEARL (Singer): (Singing) I'm in a band now, we're called The Carrie Nations. Man, you'll see, we're really going places. We took our act down...

CORNISH: It certainly hit all the right notes. Songs about boredom: check; songs about zombies: check; songs tagged for violent content in a live show that's ended in food fights: well, I don't know if that qualifies as just plain fun but we'll check those off the list as well.

Their first self-titled album came out in 2006 when they were still in high school. Now, the group is back on tour. Leader singer Jemina Pearl and guitarist Jonas Stein join us here in the studio to tell us about their new CD "Get Awkward." Jemina and Jonas, welcome.

Mr. JONAS STEIN (Guitarist): Thank you.

Ms. PEARL: Thank you.

CORNISH: So, to start off: this isn't exactly the kind of music people might be thinking of when they think of the Nashville sound, so how do you see yourselves fitting in there?

Mr. STEIN: Well...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STEIN: We're very disattached with, like, any idea of what most outsiders think Nashville is, which is, you know...

Ms. PEARL: Country music.

Mr. STEIN: and western. And the only time you really find out is by walking down Broadway and walking into, like, singer/songwriter bars and charging, like, $10 beers.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CORNISH: And Broadway is that strip downtown where all the sort of honky-tonk bars are and...

Ms. PEARL: Yeah.

Mr. STEIN: Yeah.

CORNISH: ...(unintelligible) western world and kind of the tourist part of Nashville.

Ms. PEARL: Very touristy. There's so many different kinds of music in Nashville. And I think when we were about 13, 14 going to shows for the first time, there was a lot of, like, hardcore, like, punk bands playing.

Mr. STEIN: There were, like, their little, like, DIY hardcore punk rock scene that was going on at this pizza place called Guido's. And...

Ms. PEARL: And anyone could go. It's always all ages, which...

Mr. STEIN: Yeah.

Ms. PEARL:, like, a rare thing. So, that's, like, if they're, like, punk doesn't exist in Nashville, it's, like, well, yeah, it does, but some people don't know about it.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. PEARL: (Singing) (unintelligible) is what you want, look at the world as (unintelligible). (unintelligible) is what you want, (unintelligible) want to have fun.

CORNISH: One of the things about this album is that it is a lot of fun and there are some moments in it that sort of remind me of rock and roll high school, which was before you were born.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CORNISH: But was a movie that involved the punk band, The Ramones.

Ms. PEARL: I know. Rick Randal's one of my inspirations in here as in life, so I definitely know rock and roll high school pretty well.

CORNISH: There are moments in the album that remind me of the Ramones and there's one song that's called "Becky" that has not been released in the U.S. but very much has a very fun feel to it. We're going to hear a little bit of it now.

(Soundbite of song, "Becky")

Ms. PEARL: (Singing) BFF and you're such a good friend, but I knew it couldn't last 'til summer's end. You signed my yearbook, and that was pretty rad, but now I'm getting sick of you and it's just too bad. I heard you talked a lot of [censored] about me to your new best friend. But it doesn't matter anyway, 'cause I've got a brand new friend, okay. Me and her, we'll kick your [censored], we'll wait with knives after class! But you know I got to say...

I was trying - when I wrote "Becky," I just thought about, like, writing a song about all the girls who've done me wrong in the past. Like, becoming really close friends with girls and kind of getting stabbed in the back, which I think happens a lot. Like, especially in, like, middle school and junior high. And I thought, like, it'd be funny to, like, take these bad experiences and put it into a song that's, like, kind of silly and, like, referencing, like, old, like, murder ballads from, like, the 60s and 50s.

(Soundbite of song, "Becky")

Ms. PEARL: (Singing) Now I'm going to juvie for teenage homicide. It would always been cool if you stayed by my side. And you know...

CORNISH: "Becky" is a song that ends with sort of a knife fight and someone speaking the words from juvenile detention and...

Ms. PEARL: Yeah.

CORNISH: It's a song that has been placed on the UK release, the UK album, but not in the U.S. And can you talk about who made that decision and why?

Ms. PEARL: Not us.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. PEARL: It had, like, lawyers at Universal decided that "Becky"...

CORNISH: And this is at Universal Records.

Ms. PEARL: Yeah. And, like, they decided that these three songs, that song "Becky," another song "Black Hole" and "Blow Your Mind," they were too violent to be on the album. And they gave us the option of either changing the lyrics or taking them off the album. So, it was, like, we'll take them off the album.

But I think mostly it has to do with is that they feel that our, like, our demographic is, like, you know, middle class families and those are the people who sue labels. And I guess they're worried that someone is going to listen to that song and then take a knife to school and say it's because, you know, of Be Your Own Pet. Which is pretty ridiculous but I guess that's what they're afraid of.

Mr. STEIN: Yeah, if we are, you know, a rap group that was degrading women or talking about popping fools or whatever it'd be okay to release.

CORNISH: I think that ever since the Columbine High School shooting there's been a general skittishness about music. And you guys, it sounds like you sound pretty annoyed that you've been kind of caught in the web of that.

Ms. PEARL: Yes.

CORNISH: And I guess I was wondering did you ever have a moment where you thought about changing the lyrics or you thought about releasing it somewhere else or sort of what was your, I guess, when you hit the wall with the label where did you go next?

Ms. PEARL: Well, I mean, I definitely - there's no doubt in my mind, like, we're definitely not going to change the lyrics because that would be admitting there's something wrong with the lyrics and I definitely don't think there's anything wrong with the lyrics. So, they're saying there's something wrong with the lyrics basically, like, you're saying there's something wrong with me for having thoughts like this. And I don't think there's anything wrong with people, you know, feeling, like, having silent ideas. I mean, I think writing a song about it is much better than acting out those thoughts. You know, it helps you deal with things.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. PEARL: (Singing) (unintelligible) I don't want to go to bed.

CORNISH: After we spoke to Be Your Own Pet members Jemina Pearl and Jonas Stein, we contacted the Universal Music Group to ask why they had cut the three songs from the American release of "Get Awkward." They declined comment but simply stated this: As we do with all of our artists, we respect their positions on their music and the artistic integrity that they bring to every project. We look forward to long and successful relationship with Be Your Own Pet.

Jemina and Jonas did tell us that Universal agreed to release the master tapes of the songs cut from the American CD, and one Tuesday they'll be available as digital releases on the independent label XL Recordings. You can hear their infamous song, "Becky," on our Web site,

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

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