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Joe Pernice's Dark and Peppy Pop

Back in the early 1990s, songwriter Joe Pernice used to be in a little-known but fashionable modern rock band called The Scuds. Night after night, they pummeled club audiences with amplified bar chords. Then, after the club would close for the night, they would retire to their guitar player's home, crowd around the kitchen table, and strum delicate country songs well into the morning.

Pernice quickly realized this was the kind of music he really wanted to share with audiences, so his group renamed themselves the Scud Mountain Boys and introduced their fans to a whole new sound. NPR's Liane Hansen talks with Pernice about what's changed about his music over the years, and what hasn't.

The Scud Mountain Boys enjoyed critical acclaim during their days with the trendy recording label Sub Pop in the mid-'90s. Since then, Joe Pernice has recorded under a number of assumed names and borrowed styles. His most recent release is Yours, Mine and Ours as a member of The Pernice Brothers.

The new album is pure, fun, jangly guitar pop, but beneath the upbeat rhythms are his signature dark lyrics. "Musically, I think I've always been a fan of classical pop melodies," Pernice says. "Lyrically, I think I tend to get a little dark at times. But there's not a lot of thought behind trying to put them together, it comes naturally."

Pernice's lyrics have been so relentlessly dark at times, that some critics have chastised him for not easing up. But Pernice tells Hansen that his lyrics, while honest, don't really reflect his everyday mood. "I love to joke, I'm a pretty happy guy." He has his fans fooled. When they meet him, he says, they're often amazed that he's not bedridden.

"Yours, Mine and Ours," Pernice's eighth album, is set for release Tuesday on his own record label, Ashmont Records.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.