Catching Up with Pretty In Between
Hailing from the West Coast, Pretty in Between have quickly proven themselves as the frontrunners of newer indie bands creating a stir. Last month saw the band releasing their breathtaking live EP “Live At Music City,” which turned the head of new fans and critics alike. As we catch up with drummer Tred Litely he gives insight of the band’s inner working, their musical force and what drives them to constantly make relatable and honest music that will strike your very core. With 2019 just around the corner we’re eager to hear more from Pretty in Between.
We’re very excited about this EP because it’ll be our first multi-song release. After spending months developing a unique sound and writing a catalogue of original songs, we were ready to get some of our stuff out there on recording. That said, the idea for a live EP kind of fell into our lap. Austin, our singer and guitar player, works at music rehearsal space/hostel called Music City SF. He helped organize a benefit show/live video recording in Music City’s in-house venue for a friend. After she asked us to join the bill, she let us know her friend, Nate Bauld, was going to bring his gear and record the show. Nate is a great engineer, and we were so pleased with the tracking that we took our favorite songs from the performance to make this EP. It being live and practically unplanned gives it this raw quality that we all really appreciate.
We have a few song writing methods, and I think that’s evident as you listen to our material. Austin brings some songs in that are pretty well developed, and we just iterate on them as a band and find what makes sense. Other times Austin or I will bring in a foundational melody or riff, and we work through a process as a duo to flesh out a bigger idea. Then Ryan adds his producer’s touch and a bass line to make it shine. I think as we’ve found our sound it’s been easier to bring in more complete songs, because we’re all more comfortable with the direction we’re heading. I know for me, it’s getting easier and easier to hear the finished product in my head prior to playing it, because we’re really connecting as a group. We’re to the point of anticipating what each member is going to add – so it’s become a lot of fun. As far as timelines go, we could “finish” a song in a month or so, but we prefer to give new songs “vacations” while writing them. Lots of times we put a new song away for a month or two and revisit it to find that we have a new idea or approach that really resonates.
Austin and I didn’t really know each other at all when we started playing together. I was actually auditioning for a cover band and he was working the front desk at Music City. When I walked out of a studio room after practicing for the audition, Austin was like, “Why are you playing drums alone?” I told him about the cover band, and he convinced me that we should play original material together instead. We exchanged a few albums we liked and then met up again at Music City. We started with these unformed, ten-minute jams where we were just exploring our boundaries and finding what fit together. Those sessions were all over the map sound-wise and formed the basis of our genre-bending attitude. We actually took a lot of those ideas and trimmed them into some of what you’ll hear on the EP.
I remember going to church as a very young kid and being moved by the 30-piece choir doing harmonies over this enormous organ we had. Everything from that to listening to my parents’ CD collection: Billy Joel, Styx, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Rush; in my basement as a little kid set the stage for a lifelong love affair with music. I knew I wanted to play drums by the time I was five or six. I was always building drum sets out of whatever I could find around the house – lego containers, buckets, whatever. When I got to school band I got the first opportunity to play with other people. The idea that so many people can coordinate tone and time to create a song has never ceased to give me chills.
Austin has told me stories about singing in the bathtub as a very young child. He also tells one about being forced to sing the National Anthem in front of his class as a form of punishment when he was in 4th grade. Apparently the performance went over well, and it was that combination of empowerment and rebellion in music that fueled a deeper fire of expression for him. He started singing in his first band at 13 and has been a self-taught musician since. Our contrast in background means we often approach songs from different angles. I think that helps us find that unique-ness in sound and structure.
ND: What sparks your songwriting creativity? Is it more of a storytelling aspect or a personal aspect?
Austin harps on the idea that his songwriting comes from a place of necessity. He’s an intense dude, and themes of conscious vibrations and social justice are cornerstones of the lyrics he writes. There are certainly stories within our music, and they range from narratives about our place in the cosmos to more personal stories about struggling to formulate identity or navigating a society plagued with division, disparity, and confusion. Human connected-ness is big main theme; we’re searching for ways to bridge gaps between genres and peoples and reminding ourselves that our similarities vastly outweigh our differences.
ND: What do you love most about playing in San Francisco?
I love the camaraderie with other bands. San Francisco-based musicians are starting a real push to expand the music scene, and we’ve had the opportunity to play with some great bands. There is this energy between these groups; everyone wants to put San Francisco back on the map as an epicenter of great new music. We’re lucky to be in a place with so many great musicians putting their all into playing shows all over town, and we feel very strongly that the music scene is getting another breath of life here. We’re lucky to be involved in that, and like anyone else fortunate enough to be able to live in this city, our participation in something bigger than ourselves is crucial. It’s being in a city with so much musical history that in this moment feels like a blank canvas. There’s plenty of room to re-invent and re-ignite.
ND: With a new live EP in tow, what other surprises do we have before the end of the year?
We have got a few things up our sleeve. We should have some live-in-the-studio video sessions out soon, and watch for a studio EP some time next year.