Pearl Earl's Chuck Wagon Is A Beacon of Organized Chaos.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
As of late — and almost out of the blue — the Denton quartet of “karaoke superstars” Pearl Earl has been making some serious waves. Enough so that the band recently headed west for three weeks with tourmates Abacaba.
Comprised of an eclectic and talented group of best friends, Peal Earl's band's breed of hyper-pop is one that's not only infectious, but incredibly dance-able and presented with an ever-loving, positive smile.
After initially starting off as a trio, the ladies of Pearl Earl stood out in Denton's ever-booming music scene, hopping on quality bills right from the jump and being hounded for recorded material almost just as immediately. A few months later, the band welcomed organist Charlie Beaman into the fold to round out its sound and release its well-received first recordings.
Now, with the band returned from the road, we had a moment to catch up with Pearl Earl and discuss the life and times of its tour vehicle — chatter that quickly spiraled into a spiel on the merits of spending time in a van with your best friends. Throughout, it was more than clear the outfit had quite the blast on the road, not to mention plans for more tours in the future.
Band Name: Pearl Earl.
Van Name: The Chuck Wagon.
Year/ Make/ Model: 2011 Dodge Caravan.
Mileage: “There are close to 90,000 miles on it 7,000 of it was put on by our tour.”
So you guys just went on tour.
Everyone: “Like last month! We got back last month.”
Where all did you go?
Bailey K. Chapman (Drums/Vocals): “Up the West Coast.”
Charlie Beaman (Synths/ Organ): “Austin up through the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area — Arizona, Grand Canyon, California…”
Stephanie Lazcano (Bass/Vocals): “Colorado, then to Oregon.”
Ariel Hartley (Guitar/ Vocals): “No, that's out of the loop. We're getting there. Then to Seattle through Portland, and we went to Olympia and then back down through — don't forget — Idaho and Boise. And we went to Wyoming, Idaho, Laramie.”
Stephanie: “Those time zones — y'know the way west one and the middle one and back down south through Colorado, Oklahoma, up and back to Denton.”
Bailey: “It was a three-week tour.”
What did you guys tour in?
Everyone: “This van! A Dodge Caravan. It's called the Chuck Wagon!”
Why is it called the Chuck Wagon?
Bailey: “Well, he's Chuck.”
Charlie: “I own the car, and Chuck's my nickname, and I think it was the first week I got it. I think I was like, 'It's just the Chuck Wagon.'”
Everyone: “We made up a song last night about it: 'Chuck, the magic wagon, drove by the sea…' and that's it. 'Got high on LSD…' Oh wait, THC!”
How did you acquire the Chuck Wagon?
Charlie: “I had traded in my older car before. I had been in an accident and got damage fixed on my old car, so it was traded in. I wasn't injured in the accident or anything, just a lot of body damage that the responsible party had to fix ended up putting my old car into greater value.”
Do you have any special memories in this wagon?
Charlie: “Yes! I think one for me was when Bailey and Ariel mutually decided to make an executive decision to put the Wasabi peas, mixed nuts and the cranberries and the granola for East-Meets-West.”
Bailey: “The boys were really upset about it, because we made a trail mix. It was the worst trail mix.”
Charlie: “East-Meets-West, it was not.”
Charlie: “The dance parties and singalongs were pretty damn good in the van, yeah.”
Stephanie: “My favorite part was when Ariel and I were drinking wine in the back and Charlie, because he was driving, got really upset whenever he found out that we were drinking wine — like, illegally.”
Bailey: “And the one rule about the Chuck Wagon is that if you're in the band, you can fuck in the van.”
Stephanie: “It just happened.”
Bailey: “Somebody got laid in the van.”
Any good breakdown stories? Did the van break down at all?
Everyone: “No, not at all.”
Ariel: “The van was our angel.”
Bailey: “The one thing we got was a ticket.”
Charlie: “I got a parking ticket. $25 in Colorado. And we still tried to fight it over the phone.”
Bailey: “I did. I was pissed. Yeah, it was actually a surprisingly smooth journey.”
Ariel: “No flats, nobody went to jail…”
Charlie: “No cops, no jail, no hospital visits…”
What are the best modifications you've made to this van?
Charlie: “I still haven't cleaned it!”
Stephanie: “I think the best modification is the extra tire that is actually still strapped to the van after a month and some days of being back, with some webbing. It's kinda ghetto-looking, and I love it.”
Ariel: “We hung our towels to dry out of the window. That was very camper-y.”
Charlie: “Oh, bungee-cords were a necessity. Yeah, we bungee-corded all the guitars and piano stands and everything to the side inside one big bundle.”
Ariel: “We basically made a cave of this thing. You see this right here? This was an entire wall of everything, so the people sitting here were in a nook and cranny, in the martyr seat. The passenger seat sucked because you were stuck straight up and couldn't bend far, and it was uncomfortable.”
What did you guys listen to on the road?
Everyone: “Tons of stuff.”
Bailey: “We got a shit ton of stuff from Burger Records in Fullerton. Like 10 albums.”
Ariel: “We liked Michael Rault out of all them.”
Everyone: “And Pear. We listened to Pear.”
Bailey: “I was just jamming one today, the one about the psychedelic car.”
Ariel: “We listened to the classics, too. We had like an '80s day, and then we had like — I'll tell you the worst thing we heard — she put on Alanis Morrissette covering 'My Humps.'”
Stephanie: “Oh, fuck you. Fuck you.”
Charlie: “Me and Bailey wanted to kill ourselves. We all hated it so much.”
Stephanie (singing): “My humps, my humps…”
Bailey: “Me and Ben hated it, too, because Ben from Abacaba was there, too.”
Stephanie: “You have to watch the video with it, but it's also great on its own.”
Is there anything else you'd like to mention about this van?
Charlie: “I miss being in it.”
Ariel: “It was pretty homely and, like, the whole time I thought I was going to hate it. It turned out to be really comfortable.”
Charlie: “We had tents and we had a big tarp bag on top of all our camping gear and stuff, and we were able to set up camp like real quick. We did a lot of camping.”
Stephanie: “It was nice because everyone knew where everything was mostly. If you didn't know where your beef jerky was, you could be like, 'Hey, does somebody know where the beef jerky is?' and somebody would be like, 'Yeah, actually I saw it.' and they would reach into this really tiny abyss of a crevice and just pull it out of nowhere, and it'd be stuck to some sour candy. Beef jerky and sour candy is actually kind of complementary, so try it out.”
Bailey: 'It was good! We just knew where things were. It's a new lifestyle.”
Ariel: “Where's the Etch-A-Sketch?”
Stephanie: “Like, everybody knew where shit was, even though it was nowhere to be seen.”
Charlie: “Everybody got along super well, too.”
Bailey: “It wouldn't have worked if we weren't such good friends.”
Did you guys keep the van clean or was it was a total mess?
Everyone: “Totally fucked up.”
Ariel: “I think we would go through and be like, 'OK, we can't have the Coors can.' Or, at one point, something spilled everywhere.”
Everyone: “It was pickle juice.”
Bailey: “We would purge every once in awhile. It was mostly like a slightly organized chaos.”
Pearl Earl performs Sunday, August 9, at Rubber Gloves, and Tuesday, August 25, at Three Links.