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Be Your Own Pet: Teenage Abandon

Be Your Own Pet's music has been described as punk, garage rock and just plain fun. The band certainly hits all the right notes. Songs about boredom: Check. Songs about zombies: Check. Songs tagged for violent content and live shows that ended in food fights... well, that may or may not be "just plain fun," but those can be checked off the list, too.

In 2006, the Nashville-based band released its self-titled debut on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label when its members were still in high school. Everything about the album shrieked with careless teenage abandon. Now a couple years older, moved out of their parents' houses and paying bills, the members of Be Your Own Pet admit in an interview with Audie Cornish that they're ready to take on more responsibilities.

However, that doesn't mean they hold anything back. Three songs from the band's second album, Get Awkward, were pulled from the U.S. release at the last minute. One of the tracks, "Becky," is about all the girls who have done vocalist Jemina Pearl wrong in the past, and it ends in a knife fight. The lawyers from the band's major-label distributor found the content in "Becky" and two other songs too violent and told Be Your Own Pet to either change the lyrics or take them off the album. The band chose the latter.

When reached for comment, Universal Music declined to state its reasons for cutting the three songs, and instead issued this statement: "As we do with all of our artists, we respect their positions on their music and the artistic integrity that they bring to every project. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with Be Your Own Pet."

Pearl and guitarist Jonas Stein agree the lawyers' decision had more to do with demographics than violence. Major labels release violent and misogynistic rap albums weekly with little disclaimer. But because Be Your Own Pet's demographic likely includes middle-class teenagers, the lawyers worry that parents will sue if a kid takes a knife to school because of a song like "Becky."

"Maybe the idea of a cute little blond girl singing violent songs is something they're not cool with," Pearl says. "It's ridiculous. There are tons of girls like me that need to listen to a girl like me to make themselves feel better."

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