Like the saccharine peaches of summer, Peach Tree Rascals are the season’s sweetest harvest.
The rascals in question are producer Dominic “Dom” Pizano; rappers-singers Issac Pech, Tarrek Abdel-Khaliq and Joseph Barros; creative directors Jorge Olazaba, EJ Atienza and guitarist Jasper Barros. Though the band’s music conforms to no genre, their indie-pop, hip-hop and rap-ladened discography is laced with a signature sanguinity, making spirit a Peach Tree Rascals specialty.
Since its whirlwind rise to fame in 2020 following its hit “Mariposa,” the band finds itself no longer flying in the sky like butterflies, but swimming in a fishbowl. That is, it is on display to the whole world. The title of the band’s latest five-track EP Does A Fish Know It’s Wet? comes with a touch of introspection and reflection, a nod at both self and external awareness.
“We’re in a big, expansive ocean — also known as the (music) industry,” Olazaba said in an interview with The Daily Californian, with apt fishbowl earrings hanging from his lobes. “At the same time, it’s like we’re fishes in a bowl being watched and judged.”
Peach Tree Rascals is the epitome of self-made, homegrown goodness from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. DIY to the bone, the original members started making songs in their shed during high school in San Jose, California, where they self-produced, recorded and released their own tracks.
When “Mariposa” became one of 2020’s TikTok anthems in a blink of an eye — garnering over 280 million streams — they were no longer backyard boys making music for fun. Suddenly, they were thrust into the outside world as public icons, learning to breathe in the pressure underwater.
“It was different before. Now, we have a record label, a manager and so many more people behind us,” Abdel-Khaliq said. “Those outside voices and the rest of our business are a part of us and rely on us. That’s when it becomes unknown waters.”
Compared to its previous projects, such as 2021’s Camp Nowhere and scattered singles over the years, Does A Fish Know It’s Wet? is an anomaly. In many ways, this EP remixes the band’s tried and true production style. Instead of being guided by sheer will, this approach is slightly more calculated. Does A Fish Know It’s Wet? is Peach Tree Rascals’ most genre-focused record, designed with pop in mind.
According to Abdel-Khaliq, this project juggles the pressure of chasing radio-pop virality and peachy authenticity. Though it’s the first time the band has felt slightly conformed to a structure, it also believes that growing out of its comfort zone is a good thing.
While unknown waters helm the ship, the members always know to trust themselves and each other. “If I take my own advice, I know I’ll be okay on my own side,” they sing on their new single “Good Advice.”
With the release of Does A Fish Know It’s Wet? comes the band’s first headlining tour across North America, putting it on the road for the final quarter of 2022. While some may argue that the band’s headlining tour debut is long overdue, its members disagree.
“We prolonged doing our first show, even before the pandemic, since we started back in 2017,” Abdel-Khaliq said. “We knew we never wanted to do a show until we had an audience that wanted to be there.”
The delayed gratification of waiting until their hits became unforgettable anthems reaped serious results, their fanbase growing to a formidable 3 million a month on Spotify. The band’s slick-sharp intuition when it comes to managing itself is clear, knowing it needed a crowd that loved it in order to perform as its best self.
Now residing in Los Angeles and loading the tour bus, it’ll be some time until their Bay Area return. While they miss local food spots (naming La Costa and Pho Ha Noi in San Jose as their “go-to”s), home is where the family is.
Dropping out of school to pursue music full-time seems like every parent’s worst nightmare, and these rascals were no strangers to that parental worry.
“My plan going into college was always: Stay in college ‘til something pops off enough so I could get the f— out. I was a year and a half away from a degree when I dropped out. It was awesome,” Pech said with a smile.
“We’re all kids of immigrants,” Abdel-Khaliq said. “My parents were not supportive of the idea of (my) dropping out of school because that’s why they came here in the first place.”
Though the filial tango ensued, the band’s success became undeniable. The members’ previous stints in college were shelved as their music’s impressive statistics coaxed support from their parents.
“Our main goal is to reach a level of success where our families, our kids and our futures are all stable,” Abdel-Khaliq said as the other members nodded in agreement.
This success seems fast-approaching and purely inevitable for Peach Tree Rascals as Does a Fish Know It’s Wet? gains streams of more than 5 million on Spotify. The band proves that, though these are uncharted waters, there is no need to worry. It’s learned how to swim.