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Interview: Pretty Bleak Chat About Their Latest Offering, ‘do you feel the same’

Recently announced on the BIGSOUND lineup for 2023 following successful singles ‘other people’s heads’ and ‘spare room song’, Naarm emo/pop punkers PRETTY BLEAK recently returned with brand new single ‘do you feel the same?’ We had a chat with the band to find out more about the track, how they came up with their band name, career highlights so far and more!

Where did it all start for PRETTY BLEAK, and how did your name come about?

I suppose there are a few different answers to where it all started for us, but the most accurate one would probably be in my parents shed in the spring of 2011. That was when Kyle and I had our first rehearsal together. We were just teenagers with no idea what we were doing and no real expectations of where this initial meeting would take us, but ultimately that was the beginning of the band we are today.

Our name came from a journal entry that I wrote back in the middle of 2019. We were just about to release our first single after deciding to re-brand and start from the beginning, but we hadn’t decided on a new name for the band yet. It was a really stressful point in our lives and I guess I was detailing the extent to which I was uncomfortable with how I saw our future unfolding, and the last thing I wrote was how “it all seems pretty bleak”. Our name has much more ideological and aesthetic significance to me now that I’ve had a few years to think about it, but that is where it originally came from.

What have been some of the highlights of your time together as a band so far?

We’ve had quite a few highlights recently but I think the two that stand out are playing at Max Watts House of Music last year, and playing at Great Escape festival earlier this year. Those were two goals that we had set for ourselves years ago. I remember back when we were still in highschool we would say that we’ll know we’re doing ok as a band once we play our first festival. So to actually experience that taking place in real life, and not just in a hypothetical that we dreamed up as 15 year olds was a really significant moment for us.

You’re playing your first BIGSOUND this year, what are you looking forward to most about this experience?

I think we’re just looking forward to the experience itself. We’re trying not to approach it with any significant expectations, we’re just hoping to play the best we can and make an impression on the people who see us. Being invited to participate in BIGSOUND is probably the most important opportunity of our career so far, so we’re just going to make the most of it and see what comes our way.

Who are some artists on the line up that you’re most excited to see?

Our mates in Sophisticated Dingo always put on a good show, so we’ll definitely try and catch one of their sets. There’s an artist called FELONY who we’ve been talking to on instagram for a little while. Her music is really interesting and she seems like an artist that fits in with what we’re doing so we’re hoping we’ll be able to see her too.

Johnny Hunter is a band I’ve been following for a while. I feel like they exist in a similar kind of post-punk/ new wave world as we do, and it turns out we’re playing on the same show as them which will be great. Wednesday night at The Zoo, be there.

Congratulations on the release of your new single ‘do you feel the same ?’ – can you tell us more about what the song is about?

Lyrically the song is about the human tendency to placate our emotions with menial pleasures, which develop into addictions or dependencies. The specific nature of the addiction is dependent on the listener’s interpretation, whether it be drugs, or laughter, or the amount of times you look in the mirror each day. But it’s a human universal to subconsciously comfort ourselves with these dependencies, and the song laments the inability to break from a comforting pattern of behaviour.

Are there any particular bands or artists that have influenced your sound on this release? Any unexpected sources of inspiration?

There was definitely some inspiration taken from gospel music. Mostly in the vocal arrangements and the harmonies. It’s also hard to say where a lot of the inspiration for our music comes from because it’s always incredibly varied. I listen to a lot of different music and something from everywhere will inevitably make its way into our songs.

What kind of movie / TV show scene would this song be the soundtrack for?

I’m sure it would be something tragic and heartbreaking, and the conclusion of the movie would leave you completely unsure of whether there was a happy ending or not.

Tell us about your aesthetic inspirations and any insights into the upcoming music video for this release. What can we expect?

The upcoming video for ‘do you feel the same ?’ is probably the most ambitious thing that we’ve shot so far. It’s split between two differing aesthetic themes that compliment each other really well but are also quite dissonant, which represent similar elements in the song. You can expect a lot of fire, and yeah it is real.

What do each of you think the best music video of all time is?

There are so many incredible music videos and I don’t think I could name the BEST one, but the one that came to my head most quickly was the video for ‘Alphabet St.’ by Prince. The use of a very primitive green screen technology looks dated but that’s why it’s so interesting. There’s something extremely satisfying about the aesthetic of vintage looking technology that was supposed to be impressive and state-of-the-art in its time.

What does the rest of the year look like for PRETTY BLEAK?

Once we’re home from BIGSOUND we’re planning a Melbourne headliner to celebrate ‘do you feel the same ?’. Then we’re going to start getting our final release of the year organized, which will hopefully be ready by November/ December.  We’ve had a really busy year this year, and we’re hoping it will position us to take things even further in 2024.

Pretty Bleak’s latest single, do you feel the same is available now, everywhere.

Written by John Zebra