It’s fair to say Scotty Pearson is probably one of the hardest working drummers in NZ rock’n’roll. But there’s a lot less of him now than there used to be.
Thirty-five kilos less to be precise. And counting. His goal is 50kg. But already he feels like a different man. And why wouldn’t he, now that he’s not carrying the equivalent of two bags of cement around all day.
‘It already feels amazing,’ Scotty says. ‘Try and carry two of those around all day, you’d never do it. Maybe if you had them strapped on your back you could, but you’d be absolutely fatigued by the end of the day. So yeah, it’s been a great thing for me.’
The drummer of Elemeno P is one of Morningside’s best-known faces, and a Crave regular. He lived in Ethel Street for a while and even though he’s since shifted to Kingsland, he still makes the morning walk for his first coffee of the day. It’s part of an exercise routine that’s helping shed the kilos and get him to his target weight.
In June, Scotty had gastric bypass surgery to address fluctuating weight issues, high blood pressure, cholesterol, early onset diabetes—the markers of a rock’n’roll lifestyle. Either that, or just too much good living.
‘I think I just made some bad choices on food and probably binged a little bit,’ Scotty says. ‘I did have a sweet tooth and I liked having a wine.
‘I did a TV show called Downsize Me! about eight years ago and lost about 28kg—I got down to a reasonably healthy level. I was still a podgy guy afterwards but a lot healthier and I learnt a lot about how to eat and what to eat.
‘My lifestyle isn’t bad, I’m just social and you’re out there meeting people and doing stuff and busy with my business—then busy with music after hours, big periods of not having much to do and not having family to run after.’
That busy lifestyle includes his own building company, the suitably named Scotty Construction Ltd, which specialises in fit-outs and commercial builds. His stamp is all over Britomart and new developments in Morningside.
It also includes music—lots of it. From playing in Elemeno P whenever they can find a reason and a gig to get together, but also session work, and tours with the likes of Jamie McDell and Bic Runga, to renting out his 25 sets of drums.
‘I like the industry mostly,’ Scotty says. ‘I just love being around it all. All of us [Elemeno P] have different love and hate for it at different times.’
He’s quick to say the band never broke up, so never needed to reform. But guitarist Justyn Pilbrow did announce in front of 25,000 people at the Big Day Out 10 years ago that he was leaving. It was a shock to the band as much as it was to the audience.
‘It was like, aw, thanks brother. It was a bit weird for a little while. We got another guitar player for a number of gigs but the vibe just wasn’t right, so we decided if we’re going to play we have to play with Justin. And he’s been willing to come back.’
Justin lives in LA now, while singer Dave Gibson lives in New York. Bass player Lani Purkis lives in the hood. Having two members living in the US in the age of Trump has had an impact on the band in ways Scotty isn’t exactly thrilled about.
‘They’re right in it, so they get the anger, and yeah, lots of stories to tell. I’d rather them write something infantile like we used to—something silly. I mean, our songs were actually often quite sad but told in a lighthearted way, and I think the depths of the songs were actually interesting. That’s one of the things that was cool about it.
‘I want to do the whole of the first album [Love & Disrespect] live, but there are songs that Dave just doesn’t want to sing. A song called Hold On is just a silly little song and he, as a self respecting musician, just goes, I can’t sing this. It’s a shame because I would really love to do a tour with the whole of the first album, start to finish.’
As for future plans, the band is handing out on tour in the next couple of weeks, and is also set to play Homegrown in Wellington again next year. In the meantime, Scotty is due to play for Bic Runga some more and is still playing for Jamie McDell. And Elemeno P is still talking about a best of album, which the record company owes them.
‘The problem was, we sat down and made a playlist and there was like 25 songs on it that we all desperately wanted to be on the record. It became a very big baby.’
And new material?
‘Lani and I flew up to LA after our first Homegrown [last year] and spent a couple of weeks there. We had a couple of ideas that we put down and they were really good new songs. But you know, the problem we’ve got is that we’ve had such a great run, if we put out something and it doesn’t slam dunk, then it’s not perfect. So we haven’t played them to anybody.’
Still, it doesn’t affect how Scotty’s feeling about life and the future. He’s feeling just about the best he ever has.
‘I’m super happy now. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot and I still have lots to learn. I’m excited about my new body, I guess. I’m feeling a lot of energy.’