Polaris, a musical group created to contribute songs to “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” jumped out of ’90s television fiction and into ’90s nostalgia reality when they embarked on a small tour in 2014. They aren’t the only band that features ex-members of “Pete & Pete,” though—Danny Tamberelli, who played Little Pete, went on to form post-punk group Jounce. The trio is performing at Downtown Arts in Wilkes-Barre on Monday, Aug. 10 as part of their Jounce Hot American Summer tour.
Nickelodeon’s “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” ran for three seasons from ‘93 to ‘96 and chronicled the lives of two brothers, each named Pete. Both were in the middle of their own coming-of-age story, with Big Pete navigating adolescence while Little Pete tackled the problems of the pre-teen. In the Season 1 finale “A Hard Day’s Pete,” Tamberelli’s Little Pete hears a garage band performing his favorite song, Polaris’ “Summerbaby,” and decides to start a band of his own. Little Pete was armed with a Krebstar 3000 Eviscerator guitar as frontman of The Blowholes, but Tamberelli chose a different way to express himself musically than the character he embodied.
“I got my first bass on the set of ‘Pete and Pete,’” Tamberelli said. “I always wanted to play bass—I don’t know why, I just really liked it. Then my uncle told me that guitar players are a dime a dozen and if I wanted to be in a band I should play bass because everybody needs a bass player. I thought that was a good idea.”
Learning to play music was the next logical step for Tamberelli—whose parents took him to see The Beach Boys and The Moody Blues concerts yearly—but in order to form a proper band he’d have to find proper band mates. Luckily for him, “Pete & Pete” was filmed in New Jersey, which meant that the Garden State native didn’t have to leave his life behind after he was cast. Matt Desteno was a childhood friend who lived down the street from Tamberelli, together the two explored the musical landscape.
“Matt and I grew up listening to heavy metal and grunge music—that whole scene,” Tamberelli said. “Then we sort of fell into the hippie Grateful Dead and Phish scene, so we were all about improvising. That’s where we began sort of just messing around and playing.”
Jounce began as a jam band with a proportionally small amount of vocal parts in their songs compared to the instrumentals, but as the band evolved they found their way back to the ’90s bands like Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. that originally inspired Tamberelli and Desteno. The first incarnation of Jounce was a four-piece with Tamberelli on bass, Desteno on guitar, and a drummer and keyboardist who’ve since left to pursue other opportunities. Drummer Quin Blanford is the newest piece of the Jounce trio, and Tamberelli loves what Blanford brings to the band.
“We’ve had different people over the the years, but this lineup with our drummer Quin is pretty awesome,” Tamberelli said. “We have a very good connection. He’s got a master’s degree in jazz drums but he just wants to play rock n’ roll. It works really well. We definitely came from different places but Matt and I have done so much experimenting with music and finding what we like to do (and) it was a real good fit, having Quin join.”
A Jounce performance could take on a variety of looks due to the group’s wide range of influences, but the trio recently released a live record for free on Bandcamp that, according to Tamberelli, is a good representation of their current live show. “Live at Brooklyn Bowl” features ten tracks with covers of Dead Kennedys and Ram Jam songs thrown into a mostly original set. The release mirrors Tamberelli’s description of what fans should expect from Jounce’s Aug. 10 show.
“You can expect a good old fashioned rock show,” Tamberelli said. “We like to show up and play a bunch of music. It’s all original music (with) maybe one or two covers thrown in there for fun (that are) kid of weird, like ’90s songs you may remember or early old school punk songs. Expect high energy and a lot of smiling—we’re always smiling like idiots.”
Little Pete’s garage band The Blowholes never became quite as popular as their inspiration, Polaris. The latter made Internet headlines in 2014 with the announcement of their tour, while the former can only be glimpsed in YouTube clips from a “Pete & Pete” reunion in 2012. That’s OK though, because Tamberelli’s post-Blowholes project is still going strong and they’ll put a little Jounce in Wilkes-Barre’s hot American summer.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
Who: The Ordinals, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal and Jounce
When: Monday, Aug. 10. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m.
Where: The Lamp Post at Downtown Arts, 47 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre
Tickets: $10 at the door
Website: jounce.org, wiccaphase.bandcamp.com, theordinals.bandcamp.com