The Red Pears
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The Red Pears

El Monte, CA

El Monte, CA
Band Alternative Indie


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Interview: The Red Pears On Growing Up In El Monte"

El Monte’s The Red Pears talk to us about growing up together and why on any given weekend, they’re able to play everywhere from a backyard gig in the Inland Empire to a sold-out show at The Smell.

The Red Pears, sometimes known as Las Peras Rojas, are a humble group of 20 year-olds from El Monte, CA, who play lo-fi, indie-alt garage rock while still paying homage to their hometown’s rockabilly punk roots. Although they’ve known each other since they were kids, Henry Vargas (vocals/guitar), Jose Corona (drums), and Juan Aguilar (bass) have only been playing together for a couple years now. They talk with an eastside twang, making sure to always accurately pronounce their city as el-mohn-thay, not al-mahn-tee as almost everybody does.

For a punk band playing The Smell, their brand of garage rock unexpectedly leans towards the indie-alternative that you might’ve heard on KROQ ten years ago (The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys)—and still do tbh—rather than the surf, hardcore, noise, or psych influences of their peers. The first time I heard The Red Pears, I made the mistake of saying that their sound reminded me of The Strokes, circa Is This It/Room on Fire. Maybe it was the sharp, clamoring guitar on “What’s The Difference” contrasting against shimmering melodies on “Daylight/Moonlight,” or it could have been the abrasive alt-punk on “Do You Got The Time?” that when mixed with Henry’s buried, distorted vocals, bares similarities to early-Strokes era jams. The reference is misleading, but it serves as a starting point. First impressions are hard to shake.

The Red Pears do achieve their own sound organically, as it stems from a converted garage/studio in the back of a daycare. It’s raw and distorted. Their self-released debut album We bring anything to the table……except tables we can’t bring tables to the table is a collection of songs about wondering if you lost your way and musings on old loves, while providing a great depiction of their wide range of influences—punk, rockabilly, blues, oldies, grunge, and alternative. After seeing them live a couple times now, I’ve noticed they aren’t concerned with portraying a certain image either, or even concerned with being cool. They write songs for themselves, they’ll even play for themselves. And it’s been working out for them.


They contrast with the usual crop of hardcore/crust punks, ska kids, and psychobillies that seem to dominate their hometown, and at the same time, it’s refreshing in the way they stand out. They are also one of the few bands around that sit at this intersection between LA DIY garage rock and IE backyard punk. However, they don’t quite sound like their IE counterparts either: the emotional-alt punk of Pity Party (Rancho Cucamonga), the thrashing surf punk of Astronaut Samurais (Moreno Valley), or the lo-fi, wild stoner punk of Beach Bums (Covina). Yet, these bands all have one thing in common: you can find them playing the same SoCal backyard gig on any given weekend.

After talking to them for the first time, I found that they are some of the most humble people I’ve ever met, soft spoken and kind, yet full of explosive energy on stage. They’re down to play nearly anywhere, even your sister’s quince, they tell me.

Let’s start with what you’re working on right now. What’s happening with Daycare Records?

*All laugh.

Henry: His mom runs a daycare.

Jose: We do everything in the garage there. That’s why the carpet [we play on] is an alphabet, it’s from the daycare. But yea, we have stuff written. We have a lot of material…we just haven’t introduced it or recorded it. It’s just sitting there right now.

Henry: We haven’t worked on anything recently because my computer malfunctioned.

Bummer. So where’s you’re favorite place to play, as in do you guys prefer playing house parties or places like this [The Smell]?

All: Anywhere.

Henry: I think my favorite is playing backyard shows, though.

Jose: Yea, because it’s just like a wilder environment. It’s so free.

Juan: You never know what to expect.

Henry: It’s all ages, but it’s 21+, you know what I mean. Everyone’s twenty-one there.

*All laugh.

You prefer that vibe over being in the venue?

Juan: Honestly, it’s good to play both. It’s good to do both things. It’s fun to play both things. One, because say we do or don’t get a crowd, we’ll play for ourselves or we’ll play for the crowd. It’s fun to connect with the people and with our friends, and it’s also fun to just play for ourselves because we have time. Let’s say we mess up on something. We have time to reflect on that, to practice on that, and work it out.

Henry: The stage is different. It’s a pretty cool environment. You have nice acoustics, the lighting.

Jose: A venue is nice. I like the way indoors sounds, but I don’t mind playing outdoors—

Juan: Yea, because it’s rowdy! It’s the jungle out there. The IE Jungle.

Jose: —yea, it’s rowdy.

Totally, and y’all play tend to play with your friends’ bands too. It’s cool to see that you all support each other.

Henry: We’ve gotten to know a lot of these bands from playing backyard shows.

Jose: It’s cool meeting so many bands and having friendships, or connections, come out of it, you know. It’s cool that bands became friends, it’s so tight.

(We had to pause for a couple minutes as Badlnds—the last band on that night’s bill—politely interrupt to ask about some missing equipment.)

Henry: (referring to the interruption) That’s raw you see.

Jose: We like these imperfections.

Juan: There’s no such thing as perfection.

Jose: No, there isn’t—

Henry: Actually, there is! It’s a matter of vision.

Jose: We embrace the imperfections. The fact that we just got interrupted, let’s leave that shit on there. Let’s leave the fact that we just got interrupted on there, that’s so cool. It’s more natural and organic, you know.

Juan: It’s us. No distortions.

Jose: We don’t like a filter for our music, for anything, for the way we are. Even if it’s shitty or not the best, it’s still a reflection of us.


So you all know each other from being in different bands, or just from growing up in El Monte?

All: School.

Juan: I’ve known Henry since we were in Kranz Intermediate, which was a middle school.

All: In El Monte.

Jose: It was by Henry’s house [in Redstone].

And for being from El Monte, you have a very Strokes-ey vibe—it’s something you can hear in your recordings and see in the live show. I’ve heard this from other bands who have talked about you guys, and it’s not really a secret that you are influenced by The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. I guess what’s the most surprising thing for me is that the bands I know from El Monte aren’t finding inspiration in those bands. They end up being these crust punk, hardcore, or psychobilly bands. There’s so much of that in your area. They tend to get stuck in that bubble, do you know what I mean?

Juan: It’s rare!

Henry: Yea, exactly.

All: Ska wars too! A lot of ska wars.

Henry: Yea. At the time, we didn’t even know that scene existed. We were just focused on writing music, and being in [Jose’s] garage. We were working on stuff that we thought just sounded cool. We didn’t know there was scene for that type of music, you know, we were just trying to get anywhere. Our first gig was at an open mic inside of a church. We didn’t fit in. We were trying to stand out and play anywhere.

Juan: We were a two-piece then.

Henry: Yea, we were a two-piece swimsuit.

*All laugh.

So how did you guys find yourselves being tied to that sound, which leans more indie and alt rock especially for the harder punk bands you normally tend to play with?

Jose: I think we were just in our own bubble, you know. We weren’t aware of what was going on outside El Monte.

Juan: It’s true what you say though about most bands from El Monte being crust punk and all that. But there was at least one band that was actually—

All: Ahhhh!—

Juan: —I know I sound like a broken record, but I guess they would qualify—

Henry: —They were called Alchemy. And then Bang Bang. And then they changed their name to Villains.

Juan: Yea, they’re from El Monte as well. I guess you would say they’re similar.

Jose: There’s more music though, it’s not just us. There are others that like The Strokes.

Juan: The OK Shack, they have their own sound. It’s not like any other band you heard. And The Pedestrians.

Henry: We’re glad you caught The Pedestrian’s set. That was actually their comeback show [after a year]. We go way back. They’re the first band that introduced us to the backyard scene. Like out there in the IE.

I had never seen them, so that was a great introduction. So they kind of took you in?

Jose: Yea, they walked us in. (laughs)

Henry: We did them a favor for all the years we’ve been playing backyards and gathering different crowds. We decided to give them The Smell as a ‘thank you.’


Cool, that’s awesome. So that’s how the show came about. You put it together, right?

Jose: Yea, it’s weird. I just volunteer [at The Smell], I help out. So I said to Jim, ‘Hey Jim, is this cool?’

Henry: And what was cool about that show, all the bands were SGV. None of them were IE. It was more hometown. The first band was Aggressive N Rude. Oh, they’re actually from El Monte, too!

“Jim [Smith] has really helped us out. He’s helped a lot of people with The Smell. That venue he has, like damn, it’s like a portal. It’s crazy.”

I got there right when they ended, I was bummed.

All: They’re pretty heavy.

Jose: They’re pretty aggressive and rude.

Henry: They’re rowdy, ay.

Jose: They’re pretty rude and aggressive. (laughs). But for the show we have here in May and that one we played back in November, those shows Jim had asked me, like, ‘Hey we need a band. Are you the right person?’…I was like, ‘Yea.’

What do you think about The Smell?

Jose: Jim’s really helped us out. He’s helped a lot of people with The Smell. That venue he has, like damn, it’s like a portal. It’s crazy.

Juan: It can elevate you.

Henry: Basically, The Smell is like another step.

Jose: Yea, it’s like a stepping stone, like it can give you a really good push, I feel.

Henry: I think our first stepping stone was that open mic at the church. The second stone was the IE backyard. The third was The Smell. It’s like a pyramid.


Has that changed the band in any way?

Jose: People want to reach out to you. It’s pretty flattering. It’s nice. It’s cool to make friends. It’s one of the best things about playing music. You meet so many cool people. It’s so tight to see someone at a show and know them personally.

Henry: It’s pretty tight. We’re down for any show, birthday parties. quinceañeras—

Jose: People have asked us to play their birthday parties and we’re like ‘yea dude, we’re down.’

Henry: —weddings!

Jose: We just played one. They rented a little auditorium, and we played for like 40 people.

Jose: It was fun. If someone is reaching out to you because they want you to play, it’s like damn, how could you say no to that. We came from a point where nobody asked us to play. We had to reach out and I’m sure that shit got annoying, like why is this band bugging me.

Henry: You know how when people poke you on Facebook, it’s like that.

*All laugh.

Jose: But for someone to ask you to play their show, it’s like ‘Oh shit dude, yea!’ We didn’t grow up with that, with people asking us to play. And now we get that. And I finally get it, like you appreciate it, you’re so grateful for that.

Catch The Red Pears on the following dates: Black Magic party on June 3 in Colton, CA; June 10 in Las Vegas, NV; June 11 in Santa Ana, CA for Top Acid’s East End Block Party.

Find out more about how you can save The Smell here.

This interview took place on April 9, 2016. All images Copyright © James Juarez.

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