PRETTY & NICE:
by Will Barry
Pretty & Nice have come along way since their inception in 2006. They’ve released several records, including their latest LP, Golden Rules for Golden People in April 2013. Their sound, an effervescent, off-the-wall conglomeration of pop and punk with a taste for the experimental has garnered them critical acclaim not only locally, but has even gotten them national attention from the likes of Pitchfork Media and MTV. In their years on the music scene, they’ve shared the stage with indie king-pins such as Built to Spill, The Get Up Kids, and the Thermals. Yes, they’ve come a long way over the years, but are still looking forward to the road ahead. Guitarist and co-vocalist, Jeremy Mendicino and bassist, Roger Lussier were nice enough to take a couple minutes out of their busy touring schedule and let me pick their musical brains for a bit, to see what makes this band tick.
Noise: Well, it’s been a busy year for you all so far—dropping the new album, several tours, more on the way, a couple music videos under your belts, opening for the Thermals, etc.—what’s been one of the highlights for you?
Jeremy: I think the highlight for me thus far has been simply releasing the new LP. It was so long in the making, but also in the debuting, that seeing it received so graciously really made me happy. We made it so that it could make people happy and it did, so all the time spent prepping was proven pure. After a while, you start wondering it your pickiness is born of vanity, but it seems all worthwhile now.
Roger: Yeah, seeing the response to the record, both from reviewers, friends, and fans has been huge. We put a lot of time and energy into finding a way to get these songs out into the world and it’s been very rewarding to see people from across the country giving us positive feedback. Also, I had a really good time at SXSW this year. We even shot a music video for our single “Q_Q” while we were there.
Noise: And I can see you guys are active on the tour circuit, like really active. Pick up any horror stories from the road that you’d care to share—you know, run-ins with deranged hitchhikers, corrupt backwoods sheriffs, outlaw biker gangs—that sort of thing?
Roger: Pretty & Nice for the most part keep out of trouble, but my old band, the Appreciation Post, almost got arrested on St. Pete Beach for “criminal mischief” after a hotel manager claimed we ripped some tarps. He agreed to not press charges if we paid him for a new tarp, so I’m pretty sure he was just screwing us.
Noise: I noticed some reoccurring imagery and language on the new album—is there a sort of overarching concept or philosophy at play onGolden Rules for Golden People?
Jeremy: Well, to others it could hold endless tiers of alternate meaning, but for me, it’s all a contemplation and exultation of the esoteric universal laws. I know that might sound haughty or even super-general, but really all I mean, without putting too specific a label on it, is that it’s a painting of our perception of how things work; concepts like cause and effect, attraction, unification. It’s a record, for us, of musings on how these laws seem to be behind everything we’re part of. Equal parts exploration and celebration; yearning for more while also being happy about where you presently are. I could chatter for hours about it…but I’d much rather converse on it for hours. That’s an open invite.
Noise: Speaking of which, there is some particularly impressive song-writing on this album, some very complex things going on not just lyrically, but musically too. Seriously, I’d kill to be a fly on the wall of your practice space, so perhaps you’d indulge me and explain a bit about the song-writing process for Pretty & Nice. Is it more an individual thing, more collaborative, or a mix of both?
Jeremy: Holden and I both bring ideas to the table in various states of development and then we bandy them about to make sure the perspective they come from is as wide and inclusive as possible. It’s a lot of sitting in the sun with acoustic guitars. Pretty & Nice has always been a band of reflective excitement and it truly begins with the two of us being equally excited about the stuff that we help each other create. Then, on a good night, that translates to the creative relationship between the band and the audience.
Noise: Trippy album cover, uh… what is it?
Roger: It’s light refracted through a crystal. When we were putting together the artwork for Golden Rules for Golden People, Holden and Jeremy fell in love with some crystal photography they found online and got in touch with one of the photographers. I like it because it’s so vibrant and abstract and really allows people to take whatever they want from the art, almost like a visual representation of some of the arrangements on the record itself.
Noise: Have you all developed any band rituals over the years?
Jeremy: Pre-show stretching, singing Frogs songs, using Neti pots…
Roger: Yeah, we all have our own rituals, nothing really unifying. Typically, I like to be alone for 15-20 minutes before we play.
Noise: What’s next for Pretty & Nice?
Roger: We’re heading to Europe in October, November, and then, who knows?
Jeremy: Total global excitement. Then, the history books.
Noise: Alright, guys, one more… So a guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ll have a Pretty & Nice.” How does the bartender make it?
Jeremy: Grapefruit juice and whatever makes you happiest.
Roger: Cranberry juice, vodka, and a high five.