For fans of Built to Spill, Weezer’s first two albums, and any music shared by Quote Unquote Records, Pinned in Place offers the energy of a garage-punk band with enough pop to keep listeners singing along — or, at least, thrash around exuberantly at one of their shows. The band is currently comprised of Sean Arenas on guitar, Ray Cruces on bass, Noah Guevara on guitar, Nate Torres on drums, and Patrick Shiroishi on keys. They have recorded one LP titled Ghostwritten By that can be bought and listened to on Bandcamp, and, not to mention, just released a music video for their album-closer “Ghostwrite the Whip” of Sean skydiving.
For fans of any of the aforementioned bands, music released by Quote Unquote Records, or friends and fans of Pinned in Place, it is awesome to say that Sean Arenas was generous enough to answer nine short-interview questions via Email about the beginning of the band, influences, Ghostwritten By, and DIY:
1) For those who know nothing about you, could you explain how Pinned in Place was born? What were the aspirations for the band at the beginning?
When Pinned in Place started, all our respective bands (Summer Vacation, Tough Stuff, and Colossal Wrecks) were over or ending except for Upsilon Acrux, which Noah and Pat perform in. I started the band to really push myself as a songwriter, and I’m fortunate because Noah, Nate, Ray, and Pat are hands-down the best musicians and people I know. After the band started, I had the idea to write an LP right out of the gate. So we did. Ray likes to say that we shat it out.
2) You’re a self-described Southern Californian DIY punk band. What does DIY mean to you? What does punk mean to you?
I don’t separate punk and DIY. There are bands that are aesthetically “punk,” but that means nothing to me because DIY is more than just booking shows or putting out a certain look — it’s being transparent and sincere. I just want to make music I enjoy and perform with my friends. To do that, my currency is goodwill. If we book you a show, you book us a show. If you help out on our record, we’ll promote yours. DIY punk is to cut the bullshit and simply make music because that’s what matters to you. When sketchy promoters or larger labels get involved, it becomes a job. I already have a job; I don’t want music to become my second job. I mean, this is why I write for Razorcake as well. It keeps me honest and informed and involved with people I trust and admire. They’re an excellent bullshit detector.
3) Have you played at Bridgetown DIY before? What do you like about the venue?
Pinned in Place has performed there twice, I think. My old band, Summer Vacation, used to play there all the time. I like it a lot. When you play DIY venues, you sacrifice expensive lighting and a pro sound system in exchange for real human interaction. There’s no middleman, so you get to actually talk to the people who run the venue. I love that. This goes for VLHS in Pomona and Pehrspace in LA.
4) You have been compared to early Weezer and Built to Spill. What do you consider your musical influences and how have they influenced you? Explain.
I’m influenced mostly by friends and musicians we play with. I realize (for better or for worse) that the day I decided to become a musician I went from simply enjoying music to crossing my arms and deconstructing it. I watch how people play, and I take what I can. It might just be a guitar chord, or a vocal inflection, or an attitude. So, I might be influenced passively by Weezer or Built to Spill, but I’m actively influenced by friends and bands we play with.
5) You have listed other artists you like as Hard Girls, Delay, Shinobu, Colossal Wrecks, Upsilon Acrux, Tough Stuff, Leer, Spokenest, Oort Smog, Novi Split, No Win, Fugue, Merry Christmas, Long Knives, Hillary Chillton. What do you admire in some of these artists? Could you explain why you like or would recommend them to someone else?
They’re all friends. I recommend them because I can vouch for them as musicians and people. Also, I’ve probably stolen the most from Merry Christmas. I once said at VLHS that Justin Conway of Merry Christmas is the greatest singer-songwriter of his generation. I meant it and still mean it.
6) What do you like most about playing shows or touring? What do you like least? Explain
I almost never tour. Summer Vacation toured a bit, but it’s hard because I work, and I go to school. I do want Pinned in Place to eventually tour, though. I love playing shows because it’s a release. After a solid show, I ride a high all weekend. Nate has a positive attitude about shows that I’m trying to adopt. He’s the kind of dude that can have a good time, even when no one is there. When a show is dead, I typically play a shitty, angry set; I’ll start to throw myself into the microphone. I’m trying to get better about that, but I can be bitter.
7) Who created the cover art for your album Ghostwritten By? Was there a concept behind it? If so, could you explain what it is?
Jeeshaun Wang created the art. He’s an incredible artist. I sent him a thumbnail layout of the cover, and he just ran with it. I’m impressed by his art every time I see it. For me, it doesn’t have any larger significance other than to tell a story between the front and back cover. Penelope Gazin did that with Summer Vacation’s LP cover. I wanted to keep that up.
8) I like “Ghostwrite the Whip” from Ghostwritten By. What was the musical inspiration for the song? What was the lyrical inspiration for the song? Explain.
Thanks. That was my attempt to musically write a song like Hot Snakes’ “Plenty for All,” with an upbeat tempo and a killer riff. Noah fleshed it out, though. He’s an incredible guitarist. My lyrics are always all over the place. I improvise them a lot at band practice (and sometimes at shows) because I write song arrangements before anything else. But “Ghostwrite the Whip” is loosely about trying to become a better writer and how, when I write, it doesn’t change any of the shit going on in my personal life.
9) What advice would you give a young band who sounds similar to you who is just starting out today?
Write music you enjoy and book shows with bands you like, not bands you just want to know. And if you aren’t enjoying it, then stop doing it. Don’t let music become a shitty day job.
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You can buy and listen to their music on Bandcamp here.
You can like them on Facebook here.