INTERVIEW: Pearl Aday

IK Multimedia's MODO BASS

Pearl Aday and her band play kickass high-energy, slightly dark-tinged rock. It’s no surprise that the band rocks so hard. In addition to Pearl’s impressive resume and family history (for instance, she’s toured as a backing vocalist for Motley Crue as well as for her dad Meat Loaf), the band Pearl consists of the members of Mother Superior – who for a while were the new Rollins Band – and her husband Scott Ian of Anthrax. Being surrounded by rock her whole life, Pearl kicks off her debut album – Little Immaculate White Fox – with a raging anthem called Rock Child which immediately shatters any idea that rock is anything but in her blood.

“It’s just a rock song, high energy rock and roll. It’s pretty straight forward,” Pearl says. “The lyrics are about how I guess I am a, y’know, rock child. My dad’s a rock singer, and the lyrics are pretty autobiographical. When I was little my mom worked in a recording studio, and an open guitar place was a really good place for a baby to sleep if you put in a blanket and a pillow. So I actually did sleep in a guitar case. We just felt it was a fun song and a really good opener to kickstart the album.” Pearl could be forgiven for skirting the issue and not writing a song about it, but what would be the point? “I’m not ashamed of it,” she says. “I’m proud of where I come from. It’s part of who I am and what I do, so why not celebrate it?”

The album has an energetic vibe, with a live, ‘minimal overdub’ feel. “We all play instruments and I really sing,” Pearl says. “There’s no autotune. The way we recorded it was the whole band got in a room together and played songs, and we did take after take, but the band was so kickass and the energy was just up, so it’s good to hear that that translates into the album.”

Pearl’s voice has drawn comparisons to Janis Joplin, with a raw rock edge yet a confident sense of control. Pearl explains how she maintains her voice: “The last tour we did in the US was this headlining club tour, and there were five or six shows in the row, and the way I sing it would really take it out of me. So I would try to do ‘no-talk’ days but you don’t realise how hard it is not to speak! Writing things down on paper gets hard after a while. Definitely rest is the number one thing for a voice. Getting sleep and rest. As far as before shows goes, I do maybe scales and three shots of whisky, then go! But yeah, I quit smoking in the fall, so that’s really helped me. I can feel the difference. I don’t really go too far out in terms of maintenance. If it hurts, don’t speak: sleep. Y’know?”

Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains contributes a sombre, restrained performance on Anything. “It’s very Gilmourish,” Pearl says. “We were mixing that song and we thought Jerry would be a good person to come in and put in some heartbroken, haunting, crying guitar. Jerry’s a really good friend of ours. He just went for it, and I think it came out really beautifully.  Everything happened really organically… everything was just allowed to turn into …itself!” Ted Nugent also contributes to a track. “We sent him the track and said ‘just go for it in this middle section.’ He sent us back the track with soloing from the very first drum beat to the very end of the song!”

As for the contribution of one Mr Scott Ian, Pearl says, “He brings a new energy, an energy that’s excited to be part of something that’s a little bit different from what he’s usually playing. He’s a metal guy but he’s go really a rock n’roll heart too. He’ll tell ya, he’s got Angus and Malcolm tattooed underneath both arms! He’s been doing metal his whole life and he’ll keep doing it for the rest of his life, but it’s a fun departure and he really enjoys it.”

As for the album title, there’s a sweet little story behind that. “When my mom was pregnant with me, the whole time she thought she was having a boy,” Pearl says. “I actually have the diary she kept and it says things like ‘He kicked today… I can’t wait until he gets here…’ – it’s a really lovely thing to have. Late in her pregnancy, she was living in Woodstock at the time and her best friend called her up and said ‘I had a dream about your baby. It’s a little girl, she’s got blonde hair and blue eyes, and in my dream she was swaddled in this white fox fur and she was laying at the base of a tree in a green forest, and her name just kept repeating: Little Immaculate White Fox, Little Immaculate White Fox.’ My mom said ‘Well, that’s beautiful, but I’m having a boy.’ She went into labour a few hours later and had a blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl!’ My given name is Pearl Maria but it’s really my first name given to my mom by her best friend, so I just thought it was appropriate to name my first album that.”

Little Immaculate White Fox is out now via Riot Entertainment