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18 Feb 2020

The Lucky 13: Jason Zembo, Guitarist of Pescaterritory, Performing at the Big Rock Pub on Sunday, Feb. 23

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Jason Zembo. Jason Zembo. Brian Blueskye

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!)

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