Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Local band Pescaterritory has played together for less than a year, but the group is already quite popular—popping up at shows all over town, and even getting attention from radio stations in the United Kingdom. The attention is much-deserved, as the four teens excel with a stacked set list of original material mixed with covers of influential classic-rock songs. On guitar for the band is Jason Zembo, who is the latest to take The Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Although I had gone to Coachella and Stagecoach through connections, I didn’t much care for the music, as I was too young. The first concert I went to for the music was a Rush concert—the 40th anniversary of the late Neil Peart joining the band. (May he rest in peace.) I actually discovered Rush through Guitar Hero. From then on, I adored Rush, and my father soon surprised me with tickets to one of their concerts.

What was the first album you owned?

I didn’t initially purchase albums; I usually just shuffled songs that interested me, either from the radio or my dad’s collection of rock gems. I remember my dad listening to The White Album by the Beatles all the time on long road trips, but the first album that I actually got into and bought was Pink Floyd’s The Wall. To this day, it is still one of my favorite albums of all time. Although it was a long first album (a double LP), it showed me what rock was capable of, and introduced me to concept albums.

What bands are you listening to right now?

For a while, I was getting into prog: the early Genesis stuff, Yes, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, etc., and then I moved on to acts like Crosby, Stills and Nash; Neil Young; Simon and Garfunkel; and Cat Stevens—music that soothes the soul—but now I’ve started appreciating the Beatles more. I am also now into some of their solo records, and listening to George Harrison’s sitar work has also inspired me to listen to some Ravi Shankar. Also, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and Bowie.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

The one musical trend that I just can’t seem to enjoy is the use of electronic instruments, such as drums, which a lot of music today uses. I do not like the timbre of electronic music, and a lot of it feels lifeless. A part of this issue for me is the production, which is so polished that it leaves no room for human error. It is much more pleasing to hear real instruments played by real people than artificially made beats lacking dynamics or individuality. Also: One band I’ve never really gotten into was AC/DC, which may anger some people, but I’ve never really been too intrigued by their music—although I can’t deny that they do have some good music to get you hyped up.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I would love to see early Genesis led by Peter Gabriel live. Their music is so complex, and back in his prime, Peter Gabriel’s showmanship was something unparalleled. It’s like musical theater brought into rock. Every time I watch a video of Genesis live, I can’t help but be amused by the energy and talent onstage. Seeing Led Zeppelin in their prime would be a close second, especially if they pulled out some acoustic guitars and mandolin.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t really have any guilty pleasure artists, unless you count Tenacious D as a guilty pleasure, but I’d heavily disagree with that classification. A lot of ’70s soft rock such as “Brandy” by Looking Glass has always made me feel great. Other guilty-pleasure songs include “Ocean Man” by Ween, “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes, “I’m Gonna Be” by The Proclaimers, “Down Under” by Men at Work, and a few Bee Gees songs.

What’s your favorite music venue?

I love all venues as long as they have power to plug in an amp. Obviously Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl and all of the other hot spots are incredible and have such a vast history. But to me, those are just the vessels for the music: So as long as there is good music, it is a good venue.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“In charge of who is there in charge of me / Do I look on blindly and say I see the way? / The truth is written all along the page / How old will I be before I come of age for you? / I get up, I get down / I get up, I get down / I get up, I get down,” “Close to the Edge,” Yes.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and the Beach Boys. Led Zeppelin is probably my favorite band of all time, because of how organic they are. All of their music comes from the soul, and their catalog is so diverse. Led Zeppelin’s diverse range of music really opened the door for my music tastes, and they are still at the top of the rock totem pole. I got into David Bowie around seventh-grade, and his music and multiple personas taught me to be myself more than any other artist. I was in awe of his individuality, and having him as an early influence taught me to be myself and gave me confidence in my everyday endeavors. The last influence is the Beach Boys, in particular Brian Wilson, who has influenced me the most as a musician and composer. I got into the Beach Boys after watching a video on the greatest harmonies in rock ’n’ roll, and “Good Vibrations” was at the top of the list. I then proceeded to listen to The Smile Sessions and later Pet Sounds, as well as many other Beach Boys songs. … Being in choir since middle school, I have always loved harmonies, and hearing such beautiful melodies and accompaniment blew my mind. From the Beach Boys, I embraced sensitivity, and my musical horizon was widened to a degree unmatched by any other artist.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

“What’s up?” to Paul McCartney.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Forever” by the Beach Boys. Its lyrics are beautifully simple: “Let the love I have for you, live in your heart and beat forever. … So I’m going away, but not forever, I got to love you anyway, forever.”

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

All the Pink Floyd albums, starting with Meddle up to The Wall, are five-star albums for me; same with the first six Led Zeppelin albums. I would probably choose either Pet Sounds or Dark Side of the Moon as my favorite album, though, since those albums will always be timeless for their lyrical themes and exquisite music. If there were a gun to my head, I’d be dead, because I can’t pick just one album.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

If you have the time to listen to a 23-minute song, listen to “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Take rock music out of a 1970s time capsule; add rock ballads with memorable riffs, blazing guitar solos and commanding vocals with sweet three-part harmonies—and you have Pescaterritory.

Pescaterritory includes four high schoolers: vocalist Aiden Schaeffer, 16, a senior at Shadow Hills High School; drummer Nick Willman, 16, a senior at La Quinta High School; bassist Gavin Lopez, 14, a freshman at Palm Desert High School; and guitarist Jason Zembo, 15, a junior at Palm Desert High School. Despite having only eight performances under their belts, the band’s music is being heard around the world: Pescaterritory’s first two singles, “Better Off Dead” and “King Street,” were recently broadcast on the US10 Radio Show, hosted by Barry Tomes, in the United Kingdom.

How did that happen?

“Pappy and Harriet’s has an open-mic night on Mondays, and we decided the night before to go play there,” explained Zembo. “We had played there before, and it really helped us grow—we gained a lot of followers on Instagram—so we decided to go again. It just so happened that … there was a radio host from Birmingham named Barry Tomes in the audience. He thought our band was really great and invited us on his show. My father exchanged emails with him, and he asked us to send over some recordings. We didn’t have any recordings yet, so we went right into the studio.”

Before Pescaterritory came along, the boys took part in the Academy of Musical Performance program.

“We’ve been all band-hopping for a really long time, and we were all finally ready to make a band that’s gonna be the band,” Schaeffer said. “We were all on the same page and wanted to work together. We’ve only been together for a year.”

Zembo added: “We started practicing in late July (2018), but it was very on and off due to our other bands and summer school. Eventually we came together and decided to make Pescaterritory a priority. Our first show sounded really good, and we were very tight. Right away, we knew that it was a good decision to keep going with this band.”

While some bands play their first show at a birthday party or open mic, Pescaterritory’s came at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden during the Garden Jam Music Festival, supporting acts including Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real and blues legend Buddy Guy. Pescaterritory has also performed at Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood.

“We did a cover of ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd and turned it into an 11-minute jam,” Zembo said about the Tennis Garden gig. “It was our first ever show, and our improv went so well; it was really eye-opening. Pappy’s open mics were also huge for us. They only give you two songs each night, but the people gave us very good responses for only playing two songs.”

Lopez added, “The first night we played at Pappy’s was Coachella weekend, so there was a really big gathering of people up there.”

As for that Whisky a Go Go show: “We were actually able to sell out of all of the pay-to-play tickets,” Zembo said. “We had a lot of family members wanting to go, and Gavin always brings a crowd; he’s a party animal! The only bad part was the three-hour drive to Los Angeles.”

While their music is reminiscent of classic rock, the members of Pescaterritory want to be defined by their own sound.

“We all have our influences, but we’re really just doing our own thing,” said Zembo. “We’re not trying to bring out one sound, but mending a bunch of sounds that are working well together. We want to bring back rock ’n’ roll in terms of the instruments, the feeling, the improv-filled live shows. Most music nowadays is to tracks, which takes away from the heart and soul of the music.”

The Pesca boys laugh and goof off like any group of great friends. They told some hilarious stories—there was that one time when Willman’s dog pooped on Zembo’s Les Paul—and joked about the fashion sense of rock ’n’ rollers.

“I do wear women’s clothing from time to time onstage, because of my smaller figure, but I do not wear panties at all,” Zembo said. “No women’s bottoms—only from the waist up. … Actually, I think I do have a pair of women’s jeans, but I wear them like a badge of honor, like the old rock ’n’ rollers. Robert Plant wore women’s jeans!

“I’m not really shooting for sex appeal; I’m shooting for rock ’n’ roll. Most shows, I wear a jacket with no shirt, showing the six pack,” Zembo continued as his bandmates laughed. “I wouldn’t go totally shirtless. Nick would, but I have class, mixed with some rocker tint of ‘I just don’t care.’ Usually, Gavin has a tuxedo on; Nick is shirtless; and I’m somewhere in between.”

Schaeffer added: “I’ll show up with nipple piercings and be suspended from the ceiling.”

While the boys know how to have fun, they take their music very seriously. Schaeffer talked about his relative inexperience and rewarding growth as both a vocalist and a music writer, and all of the members discussed their goal—to make music for a living.

“Popularity is all up to chance, but as long as we keep working hard, and people dig us, we’ll be able to make enough to keep making the music,” Zembo said. “I just want to continue making music for life. We’re all young, and there’s so much potential, but we still have a lot to grow. The music business is a hard business to crack, but as long as we’re doing enough to make a living, that’s all that matters.”

Schaeffer added: “We’re very passionate. That’s what makes us a lot better as musicians. We all want the same thing. It’s truly what we love in this world.”

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