In the song "Rock Child," gritty, soulful rock chanteuse Pearl belts, "I've been a little girl living center stage/ I've been sleeping in a guitar case." It's not just a metaphor for feeling rock n' roll 24-7. As the daughter of rock legend Meat Loaf, Pearl was exposed to the genre and all it entails almost from the time she was born.
"When I was a baby, my mom, [Leslie Aday], would take me to the studio and I would actually nap in an open guitar case with pillows and a blanket," Pearl says. "When I grew up, there was music everywhere, whether it was at a party in the house or in some place where my dad was performing in front of thousands of people. I really kind of grew up in recording studios. They're relaxing to me. Even to this day, they can be blasting music and I can fall asleep on the couch because it feels like home."
With such a solid musical foundation, it's no surprise that Pearl who backed-up Meat Loaf from 1994 to 2003, and also sang with Motley Crue sounds confident and commanding throughout her musically diverse debut Little Immaculate White Fox. Drawing inspiration from classic rock, hard rock, southern rock, soul, and R&B, Pearl expresses her love for and knowledge of music, with songs that range from tender and vulnerable to brassy and solid as granite.
"Some of my favorite bands are The Stones, AC/DC and The Allman Brothers," she says. "As a vocalist, I just love really powerful singers like Otis Redding, Bonnie Raitt, Steven Tyler, Pat Benatar, my dad and, of course, Janis Joplin. My biological father played drums in her Full Tilt Boogie Band, and I'm actually named after her because Pearl was her nickname. She was an incredible vocalist and definitely a huge influence."
While the songs on Little Immaculate White Fox are informed by past and present legends, they're as original as they are familiar, and the way they're put together is both clever and surprising.
"I love expressing every emotion in my songs," Pearl says. "I don't feel angry and screamy 24 hours a day. Everybody's got their soft, gentle times, and then they've got their hard, angry times when they've gotta let it out. Finding a balance between the two is what life is all about."
Uplifting and inspiring even in her darkest lyrics, Pearl's sonorous voice resonates with an empowering, almost spiritual vibe. Even the title of her album came from a spiritual experience. "When my mom was pregnant with me, she was convinced I was a boy," Pearl explains. "And then one night late in her pregnancy, her best friend called her up and said, 'I just had a dream about your baby. She has blond hair and blue eyes and she was laying in the forest at the base of a tree wrapped in white fox fur, and her name is Little Immaculate White Fox.' And my mom said, 'Oh, that's beautiful, but I'm having a boy.' A few hours later she went into labor and had a blond haired, blue-eyed girl."
Pearl first caught the music bug in 1981 when she was six years old and Meat Loaf was playing Wembley Arena in London, England. At the time, her dad would hold a different colored scarf for every song, and between songs Pearl would run onstage dressed in a gold lame jumpsuit and give her father a new scarf. She had done this in countless cities, but in London the crowd was larger and the experience was different.
"I got on the stage and then turned to the audience, and stopped and stared like a deer in headlights," she recalls. "There were thousands of people looking at me and the lights were on me and it was bright. I got really, really scared, and my dad came and scooped me up and the whole audience went, 'Awwwwww.' But even though I was scared and was taken by surprise, I remember loving the feeling, too."
Through her childhood, Pearl sang in her living room with girlfriends in mock girl groups, and in high school she was part of a select choir, which traveled through Europe and sang in cathedrals. She also performed in school musicals. Then in 1994, when she was 19, Meat Loaf invited her to be one his back-up singers on tour.
"One day he just said, 'Do you want to try singing along with me?'" Pearl says. "He said, 'Learn the back up parts as best as you can, and we'll give you a live mike backstage so you can join in. You don't have to be onstage, and you can see how that feels and we'll see how it sounds.' I guess I passed the test. Not too long after that I was on the stage and I was part of the band."
She toured with her dad for years, then in 2000 she hit the road with Motley Crue as one of their back-up singers and dancers. After the tour, she sang on and contributed lyrics to "Man of Steel," which was co-written by Crue bassist Nikki Sixx and James Michael. While the track eventually wound up on her dad's album Couldn't Have Said It Better, it triggered the beginning of her career as a solo artist. She performed with various other artists, then in 2002 at her birthday party, she met two musicians that would change the path of her life and her career. That night, her future husband, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, introduced her to the guys in Mother Superior, who backed Henry Rollins, Daniel Lanois and others.
"We were just talking about stuff, and I said, 'How would you feel about a chick playing with you guys?'" she says. "At first, they just looked at each other, and I was like, 'Oh, God, what did I just do?' Then they turned around and they were like, "Sure. Why not?'" In 2004, Pearl started going over to Mother Superior guitarist Jim Wilson and bassist Marcus Blake's house, and working on songs with them. They jammed out ideas, and she recorded them on a handheld tape recorder. Then, she went home to work on vocal melodies and lyrics that matched the music. "From the first time we tried it, it just clicked," Pearl says. "And they've been my go-to guys ever since. Musically, we're all on the same plane."
Pearl recorded a demo CD at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles. Then, while Mother Superior were on the road in Europe, she formed a nine-piece band with various members including, horn players, and a B3 organist and played a bunch of LA-area shows. When Wilson and Blake returned to the U.S., they entered the studio with Pearl and producer Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, Bad Religion) and recorded most of Little Immaculate White Fox.
"Recording with Joe was really easy," Pearl says. "He knows exactly what he's doing and how he wants it to sound. He's got great ideas, and sonically he's right on. We just worked really hard in the three weeks we had with him."
While Pearl was happy with the album, she felt it needed a little more diversity and impact. So she re-entered the studio and recorded two more songs, the Tina Turner cover "Nutbush City Limits" produced by the band, and mixed by Warren Riker and "Broken White," with Jay Ruston. The latter features some of her most evocative and haunting lyrics.
"I took the name from a Marlene Dumas painting," Pearl says. "I was reading 'The New Yorker' and came across an article on her. She paints really dark images of photographs of torture victims, corpses and prostitutes. And she has one called 'Broken White,' which looks like a women laying on her back. It's a close-up of her face and she's got an expression on her face that could be either ecstasy or pain. To me it looked like she was being raped and murdered. That painting really struck me so I wrote a song about it. I imagined as it's happening she's rising from the floor and haunting her attacker."
With a ragged, yet accessible sound and a deeply personal aesthetic, Pearl is a refreshing alternative to the predictable, cookie-cutter rockers who play it safe to build their audience. Pearl prefers to develop her following through sincerity, conviction and energetic live shows.
"For me, every show is an adventure," she says. "I just let the music take me wherever feels right. I laugh. I cry. I've fallen down, I've even peed my pants. I don't care. As long as I can connect with the audience, have them feel me, and get my point across, then I've done what I came to do and I'll break myself open to get there."
Biography by CheersLoveRock.com, 2010