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.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/pescaterritory.