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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Stacking The Deck with Mia Berrin of Pom Pom Squad
Friday, December 06, 2019

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

Brooklyn-based rockers Pom Pom Squad aren’t here to bring it on, they’re here to bring it.

The “it” in this case is raw, emotion filled rock that passes on school spirit in favor of diving deep into the human spirit.

With a vibe that’s equal parts Liz Phair and Courtney Love, Pom Pom Squad have been making a name for themselves throughout the city over the past few years with their buzzed about live shows, and two EPs – 2017’s HATE IT HERE, and 2019’s Ow, the latter giving listeners the killer single “Heavy Heavy.”

I caught up with Pom Pom Squad founder and frontwoman Mia Berrin at the Think Coffee on the corner of Bowery and Bleecker to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about the “punk Guy Fieri,” putting a pushy finance guy in his place, and a flaming hot take on The Beatles … well, at least their name.

I swear there’s plenty about music in here, too!

Paula Abdul

I think what I want to talk about first is just how hot Paula Abdul looks in this photo. I’m very inspired by this.

You can go with the blazer/bra combo, too?

Oh absolutely. Very current, modern.

Over the summer I saw someone walking down Bowery wearing that combo.

It’s a pretty iconic look. You’re playing with the masculine, the feminine … you really have it all.

I also have a lot to say about the ‘80s hair, the huge bangs. That’s a trend that I am not excited to see come back.

You’re not gonna embrace that?

I had emo bangs as a tween. I refuse to show people (pics).

You’ve untagged all those photos on Facebook?

Oh yeah, absolutely. There’s no trace of them, and when I say there’s no trace of them, that means somebody is going to scour the internet and find a picture of me from my bat mitzvah.

When Pom Pom Squad gets huge, that’s when the pictures comes out.

Yeah. That’s gonna be why I get canceled, for having horrible fashion choices.

I don’t think anyone’s allowed to be cancelled for that, because we have all been guilty at some point in time.

Listen, it was pretty bad. I thought I was extremely stylish. I watched a lot of Disney Channel, and thought that putting outfits together based on the combinations on the Disney Channel was a fantastic idea.

It was not a fantastic idea.

Billy Idol

Speaking of fashion choices, let’s go from Paula Abdul to the leather pants of Billy Idol.

I was really interested in this jacket with the hot rod flames. He looks a little bit like a really hot Guy Fieri in this photo.

Do you see it? He has the glasses, he’s got the frosted tips, he’s got the hot rod flames on the jacket. This is like punk Guy Fieri.

Do you think Guy Fieri would be upset to not be considered punk Guy Fieri?

You know, I actually saw him once at Veselka, which is my favorite restaurant. I don’t get star struck really, (but) I was with my dad and I saw Guy Fieri, and I put both my hands on (my dad’s) shoulders like “Dad, that’s Guy Fieri!” and shook my dad’s shoulders.

I was so shocked, and I just sort of felt like I’d stepped into an alternate universe where everything was good, and Guy Fieri was filming Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

It probably felt good to be in a place where he was filming, because you knew you were eating good food.

Yeah, well, (my friends and I) used to go there at 4am after being really drunk because it’s a 24 hour diner, to the point where I have this one waiter that knows me, this really sweet man, also named Adam. He has gray hair. He has a baby named Rose Marie. He always asks me about the band. I always ask him about the baby. He’s met every person I’ve dated for the past four years. We have a real bond.

But it was comforting, in a way, to see Guy Fieri at Veselka.


I think that I truly picked Santana because at my job, on what was going to be the hottest day of the year, we declared it “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas day. It’s gonna be a hot one.

And now that song will be stuck in my head for the rest of the night.

Oh yeah, and don’t you forget it!

I also think there was a story about Santana, because Clive Davis signed him … I think there were two majors bidding over him, and he basically fucked up the first show that he knew the first label was coming to, and the one that Clive came to he went really hard, and full Sanatana-ed it, and then got signed.

I wish I were a shredder. That’s still something that eludes me. Everyone in my band is a better musician than me, and it’s honestly nice.

Are you just saying that to be humble?

No. I’m the latest to music of everyone in my band. Maria (Alé Figeman), who plays bass, when she first started in Pom Pom Squad was playing lead guitar. We ended up losing our bassist, and I had a friend who wanted to play lead for us, so I was like OK, let’s look for a bass.

(Maria’s) kind of like the Paul McCartney (of the band), where it’s like she wants to be on lead, so she makes the bass the lead, and it’s just so incredible. And then Shelby (Keller) grew up playing jazz, and is an incredible jazz drummer.

When we practice, sometimes they do some crazy shit, and I feel insecure in the right way, where I’m like alright, I have to work so much harder. So that’s good. I’ve gotten way better at guitar since I started this band.

Fleetwood Mac

I LOVE Fleetwood Mac.

When I was a teenager I saw Fleetwood Mac with my parents, and I think that Stevie Nicks blessed me. I was 17 …

Were you at the edge of 17?

Correct. I listened to that song at midnight on my 17th birthday.

When I saw them, and she played “Gypsy,” she said that she wrote the song about the moment when she knew she was gonna be a rock star. I remember the montage behind her was all of these clips of New York. I was like, that’s a weird choice, why New York?

I got rejected from basically every college that I applied to, and the last letter I got, and my only acceptance, was NYU. It was like a week or so after the concert, so it all felt very symbolic.

I love Fleetwood Mac. I wanted to be Stevie Nicks so badly when I was a teenager.

Bob Marley

I listened to a lot of Bob Marley growing up.

My parents were obsessed with mash-ups. They had a whole CD of mash-ups, and for some reason there was a mash-up of “No Woman No Cry” with Jack Johnson’s “Taylor.” Weird mash-up, right? But I remember really being drawn to the “No Woman No Cry” part of the mash-up, and that was my intro to Bob Marley.

Also, his granddaughter, Zuri, went to my school, and is just a sweet sweet angel. We’re like internet buddies. We were both in the Clive Davis program at NYU.

Do you think the school is gonna take money off your tuition if you mention them enough in this interview?

They have already bled me dry.

It’s funny because when I transferred it was kind of out of necessity.

I ended up going to school because I was just like, I don’t want people to tell me what to do anymore, and I want to be able to produce, and I want to be able to be like, “I want this mic,” and, “I want to go to the fifth here.”

Being out in the real world I kinda thought it was not school, but it really really is.

I feel like I’ve been able to win in a lot of fights when people try to tell me, “This has never happened for a band like yours,” or “there’s no context for that,” or “this isn’t something you can actually do in your music,” and I’m like “eh, that’s not true.” I also just love proving people wrong. That’s probably my fatal flaw. That’s what will eventually kill me.

Fatal flaw? It sounds like it’s a good theme to have in life.

I like it. I enjoy it, but it also means that I scream on people in a subway.

Did that happen earlier, on your way here?

That happened yesterday, actually. {laughs}

This is something I talk about a lot, it comes up in my music – I deal with depression pretty regularly. It’s something that I’m open about, and I’m seeking help for now, but I was in a really really bad episode this week.

You know, you try to get to work, and you try to do your thing, and I was holding it all in, and then I started openly sobbing on the subway, and nobody said anything.

Because it’s New York, and no one cares.

Yeah, of course. No one makes eye contact with you, but then also you’re like, the world is a terrible place.

I was getting off the subway, and this gangly suited business bro was walking towards me, and he did that thing dude’s do where they’re walking towards you and you’re walking towards them and they expect you to move, but I wasn’t gonna move, and he didn’t move.

So we were standing face to face with each other, and he just kind of like tries really uncomfortably to move to the side, and there was one of the subway poles, so he’s kind of backing into the pole, but there’s a lot of space around me, a lot of things he could’ve done, many moves he could’ve made. Then he just sort of shrugs at me like “I don’t really know what you want me to do.”

For some reason that unlocked a rage in me unlike any other, and I just was like, “FUCKING ANYWHERE! YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE!” And he ran away from me. His eyes got so wide, and I saw him jump a little bit, like when an animal hears a car horn, he did a little jump and then kinda scurried out of the way.

It’s not my first subway outburst. It certainly won’t be my last.

Screaming Trees

I feel like that’s a good transition to Screaming Trees.

I only picked this because I have a theory that every band name is bad. Not every band is bad, but The Beatles … I’m going to get a lot of shit on Twitter for this, but The Beatles – terrible band name. Great band. Grew up on The Beatles. Love The Beatles. Do I like the band name The Beatles? No, I don’t, and I’m proud to admit that to myself.

What is it about the name?

It’s mostly the pun. I feel like if it was The Beetles I wouldn’t mind it as much, because you’re clearly referencing a certain bug, but The Beatles with the “beat,” like a drum beat? Fuck off.

It’s like when someone’s trying really hard to be fun and clever. Stop it.

For more Pom Pom Squad, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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