Fuzz rock Melbourne band Pretty City are in the middle of their 'Triple A' east coast tour of Australia at the moment. We talked to lead singer John-Luis Moretti on their latest music video, why they released three singles and late night snacks in Sydney.
What is going on in your latest film clip for "Melt"? How did you film to get that psychedelic effect?
Yeah, we did it all ourselves. What is it actually? We thought a lot of people would ask that question when it got out there. We did it in my backyard with Drew's father's camera. So what it is: you get a white tile, draw on it with Sharpies and then you drop alcohol on it. What happens is, the alcohol dissolves the Sharpie and so it ends up oozing and drippingl; then you just use different colours and drip them and drop the tile a bit so they ooze around together. As they tile covered with colour, we would either spray more alcohol to change shape and colour and then when we started to get bored - we got some food-dye, which is water-based and squirted that on it at the same time and it would react with the alcohol in funny ways. It's very simple, but it comes out great.
Is one of you a visual artist?
No, we're just very creative in general. I think I saw something similar to that on Pinterest and I thought that looks really cool because we're all into psychedelic stuff. Visually, we love that. We're always getting artists who do artwork for us, poster art or CD art, to make it look kind of psychedelic. On the video clips too, we use double exposure, which is kind of 60's. We wanted to try and do something with lights but that wasn't quite happening, so I saw this and I thought, 'That looks really great.' It took a whole afternoon, you should see our first hour worth of footage, it doesn't look that great or impressive. But once we got the hang of it, we got this great footage.
At least it didn't turn into a Pinterest fail.
Yes I know! That's what we were thinking. We literally had a week to get it sorted. We all sort of got together and had a meeting with our managers and were working out promotional timelines and tour timelines. They asked, "Oh, do you guys have a video clip? Can you get it done by Monday?" We put a lot of eggs in one basket for this video clip, hoping it would work. If it turned into a Pinterest fail, I don't know what we would have done.
How is the tour going so far?
It feels great. We love playing Adelaide, it feels like a second home to us now. And Geelong, we play a lot of shows in Geelong - we played a new venue and I think we were the first gig to play there. That was cool. I think it was an old R&B nightclub. It feels a little bit R&B - it's got the disco balls and weird chandeliers around. But you fill it with smoke and lights and it just feels like another rock show. Melbourne was really good, we were bouncing on a high from the other two shows the nights before so when we got there, we hit the ground running and there was a really good vibe. It was packed out as well.
Again, I think the room really helps a gig going well. We really want to curate the whole night. So we have the Flyying Colours DJs before and after the band there, which is really cool because they created the energy and the vibe that we wanted to have. So the music fits well, the supports fit well and with the visuals and the smoke it all locked in together and everyone was sort of along for the ride.
I'm looking at your tour schedule now and I see you had three nights in a row. That's intense.
Yeah, that happens quite a bit with touring now. We try and work as much as we can during the day to afford days off to go on tour.
So what was the thinking in releasing three tracks before an album?
It is part of something bigger. We first recorded an album in February and we've slowly been drip-fed the mixes back, sort of one or two a week. They were just sounding so good, we thought, 'We have to release a single, which one should it be?" We were kind of arguing over those three songs because they all occupy a different space, sonically, for the band. "Melt" is a psych-y track, "Second Hand Clothes" is very pop and "Running Around" is more of a straight up rock song. They really sort of line up with the personalities of the band. I'm straight up power pop, so "Second Hand Clothes" sits really well with me, "Melt" goes well with Drew, and the rock song is Hugh straight up. We're three completely different personalities that come together in this band, so why don't [we] release the three songs as a triple A side? There's no vinyl. You can have as many tracks as you want. So we called it a triple A side, each with equal worth and merit, as a taster of more things to come.
Well I imagine most people find your music on Soundcloud or digital radio stations.
Yeah, I was speaking to a mate recently about it and he said people can see music in a completely different way when it was on a physical format. So the whole thing of having an A side and then a B side, or having to fill up an album with 60 minutes worth of music, that's gone. You can do whatever you want now. If you want to release an album that's four hours long, you can do it.
It will be cool to test your music overseas, if you get a chance to do that.
We just hired a publicist in the UK, he's going to try and flog our music over there. So hopefully it does make its way into the underground nightclubs up there
What are some other Australian artists you guys are digging at the moment?
There's heaps of Melbourne bands, obviously we've played with so many. I mean, the bands that we play with at these gigs we totally love. So Fierce Mild are a really cool proggy band, I don't think they see themselves as proggy but I can't think of another way to describe them. If you see how long their set is, they start and they just finish at that time. It doesn't sound like they have different songs, it sounds like one long song that ebbs and flows. I never hear them finish a song, it's mixed into the next one. The Rollercanes are really cool, they kind of have a chilled vibe about them, like 80's post-punk. Magic America are really cool, they're a little bit like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or Queens of the Stone Age, when Josh Homme was getting into the Desert Sessions, dark brooding sort of stuff. And I guess Sunbeam Sound Machine, we've played a few gigs with them and they've DJ'd shows for us before, they have great washy psych pop stuff.
You should really enjoy playing Frankie's then if you're looking for a fun vibe.
Yeah, I'm really excited to play Frankie's. It's funny, we tried to get shows there a year ago I think and the guy said we weren't hard enough, we weren't rock enough for Frankie's. I think the only song he'd heard of ours was our only pop love ballad and he just put us in the "no" basket. The guy who runs it finally heard our new stuff and said, 'Yep that's fine.'
I'm excited for the pizza. Food is a crucial part of the tour. When you're living outside of your house, you don't know what you're going to get. I think the first few times we went to Sydney, we went to the place on the corner of Kings X that just sells cheap shitty food for 4am. They've got a strip of pork with crackling and fat all over it in a bag for five dollars and I love that. Especially after a gig, you just want something hideously unhealthy. A friend of mine is a food blogger in Sydney and she just posted about this new pork restaurant, so straight after the Frankie's gig, we're going there. There is a reason I've been on a diet, because every time we go on tour we go straight for the junk food.
What are the perks of playing (and going to) a local gig?
The big difference between big shows and little shows is how connected the bands are to the shows. I think once you get to a certain level, the band gets a bit detached from the whole process of organising the show. They're sort of told the day before who's supporting them, what the merch is. But at small shows, the headlining bands are doing everything. They've DIY-d their video clips, they've brought projectors from home, they've borrowed lights from friends, they've filled the place with balloons - these are all things we've done by the way. I think smaller shows are great because it's kind of like a house party but you don't have to clean up afterwards.
We want to give people a reason to see us, other than we're playing the show. I think when you start doing that, things get stale. But if you give them a reason - like we're projecting forgotten animation classics from the 1970's - people respond to that. You get a genuine connection with the band that you probably don't at larger shows. I know when I'm watching them, I dance with random people at the front. And then you see them at the next gig. I think I've met half of my friends that way and we're like, 'Hey, you like the same bands as me!'
When can we expect to next hear music from you?
Second half of the year. It kind of depends how this tour goes. If no one likes it then we're going to release it ourselves around September, otherwise we might hold it back to January. We recorded it in February and we've got all the mixes back now so we're eager for people to hear it.
What keeps you going?
I can't think of a reason. I can't think [of] not being an artist. Even in my day job, I work in a laboratory cleaning beakers and doing experiments - even within that context, I'm still very creative. If I wasn't into music I think I'd be painting or sculpting. It's in my blood. It's a compulsion, I can't not do it.
Published on theAUReview.