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Columbus punk rock band Pretty Pretty sings, whines about ‘life, man’

Pretty Pretty is a Columbus-based punk rock band that depicts its music as 'punk-induced' whining. Credit: Courtesy of Leslie Shimizu

Pretty Pretty is a Columbus-based punk rock band that depicts its music as ‘punk-induced’ whining.
Credit: Courtesy of Leslie Shimizu

In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band every week.

“Weirdos,” said Jon Washington, the drummer for Pretty Pretty, when he described the band’s fanbase. “Weird punk kids.”

Quickly, Washington tried to qualify his statement.

“I don’t mean that in a bad way, they’re just like, our friends,” Washington said. “I’m just going to call them weirdos.”

While Washington might have referred to the fans as weirdos, the members themselves have certain qualities that might be a little off-the-beaten path as well.

Take, for instance, Pretty Pretty’s bass player and vocalist.

Hillary Jones might be her given name, but it bears almost no resemblance to the name her friends refer to her by and the name she uses to refer to herself.

“Larry TV,” Jones responded, when asked her name. “Larry is a nickname I picked up over the years and I watch a lot of TV, so my friends just called me ‘Larry TV’ and it stuck. I think it’s a true look into who I am.”

Jones also related her love of TV to her love of music and her band.

“TV to me is an escape,” Jones said. “I guess in the same way, music helps me to escape reality.”

Rounding out the band is Evan Wolff, who plays lead guitar and sings for the group. Wolff said the trio’s assembly came naturally when its members moved closer to one other.

“We’ve all kind of been friends for a little while and have played in different bands,” Wolff said. “I moved up from Cincinnati and we really kind of started from there. Once we all ended up living in the same town (Columbus), it just kind of worked out.”

Upon the birth of Pretty Pretty — a name chosen for its simplicity and symmetry — the trio set out to record its first demo using nothing more than a keyboard and a computer.

“Our first demo, we just used my little Casio keyboard and recorded it on GarageBand,” Jones explained. “We just wanted to get it on the Internet so people could hear what we were doing and that was the easiest thing to do at the moment.”

From its simple beginnings, Jones said, Pretty Pretty has recorded on four-track, eight-track and also digitally, all the while singing about whatever popped into the members’ heads.

“Life, man,” Jones said when asked what subject matter can be found in the band’s lyrics. “I don’t know, stuff that happens to me or someone around me. I guess anything that I can find anything attractive enough or passionate enough that I need to express myself through art and communication.”

As for the music itself, Wolff said it’s energized, but not all that much different from many other bands.

“I mean really, just, kind of uptempo, high energy kind of rock,” Wolff said, describing the sound of Pretty Pretty. “Each band has its own thing, but I feel like there are so many little things that make bands unique that on the surface are hard to tell. I couldn’t really think of a particular thing that we do differently than anyone else.”

Washington said he believes, contrary to his fellow bandmate, that it’s the originality of Pretty Pretty that sets it apart.

“We like our own ideas,” Washington said. “Every first band has a hard time ripping off their favorite band, but as you move on, you take little things from every band that you like and make your own style. That’s kind of where we are. I, at least, haven’t heard a band that sounds exactly like us.”

Is it the originality that draws in the “weirdos” Washington referred to earlier? It might be that, but Washington said the fact that the songs revolve around the struggles of their youth plays a big part as well.

“They like the fact that we whine about being 20,” Washington said about the fans. “They like that we whine and that we’re loud. They like that crybaby stuff.”

Washington went on to say that when the band and their fans grow up and listen to their music, they’ll laugh at this “punk-induced” whining.

“When we’re older and looking back, we’ll be asking, ‘Why were we whining?’” Washington said. “Probably one day, that’s what it will feel like. At this point in our lives, it doesn’t, but one day it will.”

While he called himself and his music youthful and whiny, Washington had some serious advice for his contemporaries and concertgoers everywhere: embrace the weird.

“Don’t be afraid to go to a weird show,” Washington said. “Say you’ve never been to Columbus and you see a weird flyer, and you’re interested, but you’re not sure if you want to go. Just go, nothing bad is going to happen to you. Just go and do it.”

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