Q&A With Pomegranates, Cincinnati’s Juiciest Export

With a new album, One of Us, released yesterday and the last leg of a three month-long tour about to start, the Cincinnati boys of Pomegranates have a lot on their plate right now. I learned, however, that cranking out tunes and touring non-stop is the band’s norm – in fact, they prefer it that way.

Here’s my Q&A with Jacob Merritt, drummer of Pomegranates.

MC: So tell me a little bit about how the band got started.

JM: Isaac [Karns, vocalist and guitarist] and I used to play in other bands four or five years ago, so we kind of became friends that way, and then when those bands broke up because of people getting married, going to college, etc. we decided to get [our own band] together and see what would happen. I’d just graduated college and moved to Cincinnati after school, which was where he lived. We had a mutual friend in Joey [Cook, vocalist and guitarist] and told him we were getting together to practice, then we met – it was actually the first time we’d all met – and… yeah, started writing.

MC: How long was it before you started doing shows, recording music, etc.?

JM: Our first practice was in October 2006, the first show was January 2007, then we recorded an EP [Two Eyes] in March 2007… So we kinda took a few months to write a good songs we felt good about, then we started playing shows pretty fast… We started touring by that February .

MC: Wow, that’s fast! Has it always been like that for you guys? I mean, this is your third album and you’ve only been together for four years…

JM: It’s weird… I mean, it feels natural for us, but we write a lot – it’s hard for us to not be writing something. We put out an album a year, which people think is really fast, but yeah, it feels natural for us. Everyone has their own taste, I guess.

MC: Why did you choose the name Pomegranates?

JM: Initially we were trying to come up with band names but we didn’t have any good ones… That was the one that didn’t seem entirely embarrassing, so we were like, “okay!” After a while, it began to take on more meaning for us… Pomegranates are healthy and have a cleansing nature; we wanted to make music that affected people in a positive way that was cathartic and made people feel good.

MC: What was the idea/concept behind One of Us – what were you trying to ‘do’ with this record?

JM: Well, after the first two albums it was like, “well, those were fine…” but we didn’t have a grasp of what we wanted to do creatively, so we were like, “let’s just write  an album and see what happens – let’s make it personal, more groovy…” The biggest difference is that the lyrics are a lot more personal than the other two albums, which made it feel more intentional.

MC: Skull Cakin’ is my favorite song off the new album – what does the term “skull caking” mean, exactly?

JM: I think we were just trying to do a rock song…. Isaac had the idea and he wanted to do something like a Buddy Holly/Ramones-esque song with a lot of energy, so we did that and [Skull Cakin’] is what happened. We wrote that song, literally, in twenty minutes… We’re trying to do a lot more of that now – have an idea and just go with it.

MC: How’s life on the road? What are some perks/disadvantages?

JM: Some perks… We get to try a lot of good food – every city has their little ‘standbys’. Meeting people who already love our music or end up loving our music, spending time with people, making friends and hopefully making some sort of impact on their lives in a good way. Disadvantages: never getting sleep – at least, in a regular schedule. It makes more sense to drive all night [after a gig] so we’ll get somewhere at five or six in the morning, sleep for a few hours, get up and go to a show. A couple days ago we had all of our gear stolen [out of our van]. Probably the most exhausting part is you suddenly notice all these little things you bought over the course of six or seven years – just weird little stuff, cables, etc. – and so starting from zero and completely trying to build your set up in a day… it’s intense.

MC: What has been your favorite band moment so far? Any memorable performances, collaborations, etc.?

JM: This may not be most exciting answer, but, overall, just having people over the past few years take an interest in us and be willing to invest their time – especially our agent, manager, the fans who consistently come to shows, etc.

MC: What can Pomegranate fans expect in the future (after touring and promoting the new album, of course)?

JM: Well, we had a couple days off in Boston, and we went to visit a friend and did some recording in his basement. We’re recording a low-key EP right now… but yeah, it’s pretty awesome. Then we’ll have some remixes coming out, lots of touring, and we’re starting to write for a new album again.

MC: Where do you go to find new music?

JM: For me, I usually just hear about [artists] from other guys in the band – nothing really out of the ordinary, just like how everyone reads an article online or go to a blog… Sometimes we’ll play with a band and hear about them that way.

MC: What new, emerging artists do you like?

JM: Lately we’ve been obsessed with this band, Blue Nile, from Scotland. They’re somewhat obscure – they put an album out every five years, but they’re a really awesome, soulful band. We just played with a band in Youngstown called The Sewing Machine War and they were really cool… They kinda reminded me of late 90’s/early 2000s ambience – borderline emo but in a tasteful way. And what was the other one… Oh, I really like the new album [Conditions] from Temper Trap, an Australian band.