Pela's frontman Billy Swanson was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California and dropped out of high school at age 16, after which he played in failed bands up and down the west coast, later moving overseas to Europe to make a living as a subway busker. He worked in 10 countries, most of which would have him only long enough to pay for one-way tickets to the next city. (During this tour of duty he attempted to play a restaurant in Italy dressed as a pirate; had his front teeth knocked out in a fist fight; and lost the tip of his index finger somewhere along of the way.)

Eric Sanderson (bass) and Nate Martinez (guitars) are from New York. They went to the same school upstate, and have been playing music together for almost 10 years. Eric first encountered Billy while the latter man was busking at a Brooklyn subway stop. Eric was impressed by what he heard. The last member of this merry band, drummer Tomislav Zovich, joined up in 2003. Tom's from New Jersey via Croatia and received his musical education playing weddings with his dad. (You wouldn't know it but he plays a mean polka.)

Currently, all four members of Pela live in the not-so-fashionable waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook - the setting of Hubert Selby Jr.'s Last Exit to Brooklyn, and home to many artists, dock workers, cranes, and shipping containers. They make desperate songs about addiction, isolation, hope, murder, sex, and Mexico. In spite of the dark subject matter they're quite catchy and have led one writer to opine that "Pela's music recalls what might happen if Modest Mouse hitched a ride on U2's wide-horizon rock'n'roll tour bus."

During their short history, Pela have played NY venues like the Mercury Lounge, North 6, and Southpaw with such esteemed acts as Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, The National, Rainer Maria, Earlimart, and On!Air!Library!