By Cole Young
The five hour interview/feast of tapas started with an interpretive dance to Enya, ended with a drunken listening party and in between The Prettys touched on everything from flesh eating disease, YTV, death, recent dreams of cyborg friends, their writing process and their obsession with the moon.
The Prettys’ third LP, Tapas, is an extraordinarily well-crafted garage rock album where the three songwriters — Code Andrusko, Josh Gettien and Pierce Kingan — blend their styles perfectly. However, when asked about the name of the new album, they all split apart with their own explanations.
“I went to rehab a year ago and we were talking about breaking up the band. Matty [Reed] had just left and we were all devastated, and the only thing that kept me sane was that these guys told me when I got out we’d all go for tapas,” Kingan says. Andrusko is quick to mention that it also goes well with the theme of their previous album, Soirée. “It’s like a bunch of tasty snacks like if you go out drinking, you have snacks here and there so you can keep drinking,” he says. Meanwhile, Gatien yells something about drinking all night. Drummer Luke Basso adds that he thought it was because there’s three songwriters so it’s like a potluck of all of their songs.
Kingan explains that “Leishmaniasis,” one of the many standout songs on the album, is a disease caused by parasites and that symptoms usually include skin ulcers. “Ya it spreads through your mucus,” he says between silly Siri searches and bites of melted brie on baguette.
“What I like about that song is that it’s a flesh eating disease and you’re comparing it to being in love,” Andrusko says right before he starts singing the line, “It feels just like what you’re doing to me, my baby.”
Another top song, “Nite Creeper,” sounds like what you’d listen to while driving slowly in the rain through downtown in some foreign city right after a fight with a loved one. The sounds embody the feeling of being alone while surrounded by people. The repeated lyric, “It’s getting pretty hard on me,” sung as the song breaks down, drains the energy necessary for optimism out of you while at the same time persisting that you don’t stop, giving the listener a strangely dark sense of motivation.
The Prettys’ albums all have that magic touch that Felix Fung (Little Red Sounds) puts on everything he works on. The Prettys all express similar recollections of grinding for hours in the studio with Fung while he unapologetically pushes each member to play their absolute best. They describe times where it can be a heated argument over which direction a song will take in the studio, but once it’s laid down and you’re in the other room sharing a smoke, you’re best buddies again.
“During the first album I broke down one day and was like, ‘You’re ruining my fucking song!’ and then a week later he was calling me saying ‘I need you to come do back up vocals for this other band because I really like your voice,’” says Gatien between swigs of his double bottle of Carlo Rossi. Kingan then introduces the idea that Fung should sells shirts that say “I survived recording at LRS.”
Despite the jokes, there’s a clear reason these boys keep going back to the studio and their albums keep coming out sounding great. If you’re going to write songs as good as they do, you want someone as talented as Felix Fung to be recording and producing them.
The Prettys have three talented songwriters who all bring their own style to the table by writing the initial songs by themselves, then bringing them to the band for “The Prettys to put their treatment on them,” as Andrusko says. “I usually write songs about 15 years in advance,” jokes Gatien. In reality though, the riff for “Felicia,” the one track off Tapas that ex-saxophonist Matty Reed makes an appearance on, is actually 13 years old. The Prettys may not drink the oldest, most expensive wines but they do patiently let their songs develop and mature until they’re perfectly delicious and intoxicating.
The Prettys celebrate the release of Tapas at Red Gate on December 22.