Ahead of their 'Soft Rock For The Anxious' tour, coming to Rocket Bar on November 11, we caught up with front-man Jack from Melbourne band, The Pretty Littles. Coming into this interview as a huge fan of the band, we can assure that as well as being musically and poetically brilliant, Jack is a champion and fascinating to talk to. If you haven't yet, listen to their new album and get around what is the honest and driven, quintessentially Australian music that really strikes a chord with us.
So when were the majority of the songs in 'Soft Rock For The Anxious' written? Did you have to sit on any for a while?
Yeah, well 'Sleeping In Water' is one that's been kicking around in different forms for a really long time, and 'Pride' was nearly on the last album but had some changes made to it. 'Tall man' is another one we've had for a while so... yeah a bit of a mixed bag as is generally the case.
Is that frustrating holding on to songs for so long that you know are decent?
Yes and no, it's sort of the nature of the beast I suppose. It's just the way it is, isn't it? You finish an album and unfortunately or fortunately you gotta wait a while to put the songs out. That's how you get the most out of a CD and all that kind of thing. It can be frustrating if you write a song right at the very beginning of the whole writing process and then it's 6 or 7 months before it's out, and then your fucking completely over it.
What was the inspiration or idea for the album title?
We were thinking about what to call the CD and I suppose it was the first time writing words that I was pretty unashamedly honest about, instead of burying meanings of songs until I barely understand it. I was pretty honest with it all. Looking back on the songs they all have this sort of nervous anxiety, and I just thought it was a pretty literal title. Y'know its an anxious little CD so it seemed appropriate.
In what mind set do you need to be in to write a song, and does it all just come out at once or is it a process of writing things later?
Completely mixed bag, it can be something that y'know comes out in 15 minutes, or it can take 3 or 4 years. I wish there was a formula... actually I don't because that's the allure and the charm of making music and writing songs. There's just no set formula it can be easy as or fucking hard as.
Are lyrics a challenge to fill out a whole song with at once?
Often I'll have too many words because I'll just write to no music, and then I'll put those words to music later, which often means cutting heaps out. But then that's kind of cool as well, because the off-cuts of songs can be used in other songs as well.
We know one of you guys tagged along for the 'Up The Guts' tour? I'm guessing the recording for the album was all settled at that point? How was it?
That was sick, me and a mate of mine actually organised that, it was full on! That probably took 14 months of planning and it just got so intense as we got closer to it. There was still times where we didn't know if it was gonna happen, right up until two months before it happened. When it finally did happen, it went up to a whole other level of stress because then we were making sure we got to places by a certain time and people had this and that, people had eaten and had a place to sleep. Nothing fucked up though and the shows were great, but it was intense and amazing.
That's so surprising because just from an outsider perspective it seems so easy, just grab some mates and away you go...
Oh mate, there is absolutely nothing glamorous about rock and roll and touring at the level we're doing it. It's fun, but so much hard work, and it's worth it. I mean there are people helping [with] stuff, but 'Up The Guts' was a great example of hard work, but really rewarding work. Adelaide's show was a good one, it was Scott and Charlene's Wedding's kind of hometown show.
How did you get Neighbourhood Youth on board, have you guys known them for a while?
Yeah they've been kicking for a while just like us, they probably started at around the same time as us. Our paths never really crossed, we were friends of friends and stuff like that, and then started seeing a bit more of them. I've always loved their tunes, like holy shit they're amazing. I suppose we just started having a bit more to do with each other and we all get along really well, they're absolute legends. I s'pose we're just in really similar positions because we've stayed together. *Laughs* we are unique in that, and that's not a big or special thing. I suppose what has brought us together is that lots of bands that started at the same time as us have started to drop off or had great success, which is awesome, but the overwhelming majority have dropped off. We played a couple of shows in Sydney and Ballarat recently and they're just the best... I really can't wait to get on the road and have a party with them.
It's very exciting that 'Pride' has received a lot of airplay on triple J lately, have you ever accidentally caught yourself on air?
Hey! It happened this morning, it's happened a couple of times just with Pride', I suppose I'm probably listening to the radio a bit more *laughs* since there might be a chance. When I leave my dog on her own, I tend to leave the radio on because I think she likes it, and I did that this morning. As I was about to go out 'Pride' just kicked in, it was a cool little thing.
We know a lot of bands test out songs live before releasing them, did you have the chance to do that with songs from the current album?
Yes and no, we never really set out to test songs and see the reaction from the crowd, I mean there's never much of a crowd to test it on. We know... like you get a feeling if you've got a song and you all enjoy playing it. I think the biggest thing for us isn't getting a response playing it live, it's just playing it for a certain amount of time and then releasing it and then kind of gauging it. By the time we've released it, it has probably worn off for us and we've probably lost perspective on it. If when we've put it out people are liking it, then it gives you a burst of enthusiasm, which definitely happened with 'Pride'. By the time it got picked up by radio, I had lost all perspective on it and had no idea if it was good anymore. Then that happened, and now when we play it live you can see that it gets a really cool response. We never really road test them, because we have a pretty good idea if we like it and that hopefully other people will as well. We loved 'Shit Head' as well, so we put that out and I was stoked to see what people thought. It didn't get much of a response, so we were like ah fuck.
Now we know you’ve previously had a lot of support from the Delta Riggs, was this the case with the latest album too?
Yeah well Rudy who plays guitar for the Riggs pre produced this CD and he's done two others as well, so we have a long history with Rudy. I suppose we've played a handful of gigs with the Riggs over the years, and they're all lovely humans, and also Monty's a fat cunt.
Righto well thanks for the chat, and we'll see you at Rocket next month!
Take it easy brother, appreciate it!
All Images taken from The Pretty Littles Facebook page.