New York newcomers Pep Talk offer up a fun and catchy nostalgic sound that transports the listener back to the good old days of 90s pop-punk.
The band is formed of members of The Young Rochelles, Weird Skin and Sketchy. On the sound they’ve honed, bassist Rookie Rochelle told us: “The Pep Talk sound is Ramones influenced but I think you’re going to hear a lot of 90’s era Lookout Records bands in our sound as well with a modern twist. Expect lots of harmonies! It’s nostalgic but new and fresh. Does that even make sense? I guess you’ll just have to listen and decide for yourself!”
Pep Talk had been ready to go with new music just before the pandemic curtailed their plans. As Rookie explains: “Rocky had some great songs written and we put the group together pretty quickly because we were all playing the same shows around New York and were into each others bands and had been friends for years.
“We got together a few times and then the shutdown happened. As soon as it became safe, a few of us went into the studio one at a time to record these songs. It’s a different way of starting a band for sure!”
Our first taste of the Pep Talk sound is their debut EP Next To Me. The EP opens up with its title track, which starts with a fun and lively guitar riff, which drops into an engaging opening verse of punky vocals supported by palm-muted chords. It picks up in pace and flows into a big singalong chorus that ends with big cries of “Next to me.”
A quicker second verse of engaging vocals flows into another chorus as it comes to a catchy conclusion. In typical punk style, it’s short and sweet at less than two minutes long and you can check it out in the video here:
That’s followed by Trespass, which features a very famous guest vocalist. The track opens up with cool high-pitched guitars and fun guitar chords before edgier vocals jump in. It flows into a catchy chorus of Trespass, You’ve got no right to be here.”
The pace doesn’t relent as it jumps into another edgy verse and engaging chorus. A cool little guitar solo takes over as relentless drums continue to maintain the pace, then engaging vocals bring this fun track to a close. The EP closes out with a mashup of three Ramones songs to bring it to an interesting conclusion.
On the EP, Rookie told us: “It’s only been out for a few days now and we kept everything about the band a secret until it was released. No one knew who we were and we were like ‘hey, we know there’s a million things going on but check out our new band!’
“With that in mind, it was pretty cool that we sold out of physical copies (it was pressed on 8 inch lathe cut picture discs!) in a few hours and our single was played on SIRIUSXM. I couldn’t be happier with how everything has turned out so far. If you haven’t heard it yet, expect 3 great songs, guest vocals from the one and only C.J. Ramone on one of the tracks and a medley of 3 songs off of Road To Ruin. We packed a lot into this release.”
In case the guest vocalist wasn’t a dead giveaway, Pep Talk’s biggest influence is Ramones or, as Rookie puts it: “Everything I do is a continuation of, or building off of, what Dee Dee Ramone has done.” While other influences include The Descendents and ALL, which influenced the band name.
While on what inspires them to write music, Rookie tells us: “Rocky writes the songs and you can tell that the songs are all personal to him. But at the same time they are so great because they’re all relatable no matter if it is one of the more ‘sillier’ songs or something straight from the heart. There is something for everyone.”
If you’re loving the Pep Talk sound and can’t wait for more then, well, you don’t have long to wait. That’s because the band release their debut full length album Live, Laugh, Lobotomy on 24 September through Hey Pizza! Records. On which, Rookie tells us: “I think the album has a really cool balance of sweet and tougher songs and gives the best representation of our band/sound.”
Beyond that, the band plans to get back into the studio to work on their next record. They also hope to have a record release show – which would be their live debut as a band – as and when there’s a little more certainty in the world.
As Rookie adds: “Pep Talk is here to stay. We started out before the pandemic and we’ll be around after. This hasn’t been an ideal time to start a new band but we’re going to make the most of it and push on. We just want to make great music for everyone and hopefully one day soon we’ll be able to bring that to a live setting. We want to thank everyone who took a few minutes out of their day to listen, it means a lot to us!”