By Nicholas Jason Lopez
With the numbers to back them up, Pretty Awkward have proven to pass as pretty popular these days.
The Seattle alt-punk popsters – now signed to Another Century/Sony Records/The Orchard – will put out their debut LP in early 2022 and in the meantime, have garnered over a million streams and a plethora of new fans off the strength of their feel-good single “Hang Out.”
The track centers around the idea of that times are best spent with those you care about, regardless of whether it’s a romantic or platonic relationship, that alone it is good enough.
Pretty Awkward are lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist/pianist Austin Held, bassist/piano/backing vocalist Nicholas Wiggins, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Jake Jones and drummer Damien Ward.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the band about “Hang Out” and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys get to decide the band name?
Austin Held – We had been performing under the name GOLDNWOLF from the beginning of the project. Once we signed our record deal, we learned that that name had already been used by a few other artists in some way shape or form, so we spent the better part of five months collecting ideas and phrases and piling them together in hopes to come up with something we vibes with. On a 20-plus hour drive home to Seattle from LA, Nicholas and I were brainstorming names for our band. After combining some other names that we had been throwing around, I started to think, “It’s pretty awkward that we have this record deal, all of these cool songs and no band name.” I lol’d super hard at the thought of going out on stage and calling ourselves, PRETTY AWKWARD and it stuck ever since!
Music Bugle – What was your goal for “Hang Out”?
Nicholas Wiggins – Our goal for “Hang Out” was to create a song that encompasses that feeling you get when you are hanging out doing whatever with whomever you care about most. You really are just happy in the company of that person. You could just be hanging on the couch, or out painting the town red, all that matters is being next to them existing in that moment. Coming out of a global pandemic, I think the world really is on the same page with us asking the simple question, “Can we hang out?”
Music Bugle – How would you describe Seattle to someone who has never been there before?
Damien Ward – Seattle is a beautifully, gloomy city surrounded by inspiration from its historic and diverse cultures.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Nicholas Wiggins – I think the most exciting thing for us about our style of music is early on, we decided to never put limits on our sound. We have always set out with the goal to create whatever naturally comes out that day in the studio. Through, that freedom of expression is where we found our “Pretty Awkward” style. We all come from diverse backgrounds of music, so smashing that all together is a lot of fun.
Music Bugle – What was it like making the video for “Hang Out”?
Jake Jones – I wish making every music video could be as fun and as satisfying as the “Hang Out” video was. A group of friends making art and not worrying about anything else. This video was brought to life in a vibe that perfectly reflected the song. I feel like the director, Dylan Fout, really captured the essence of “Hang Out” all the way from casting, to his shots and into his edits and it shows. This song has resonated with me since the first time I heard it bumped in our ride in LA and it’s amazing to now be able to have the visual that perfectly fits with our collective brain.
Music Bugle – How would you compare your new music to your earlier material?
Austin Held – We all come from various parts of the wide spectrum that is the rock world, so everything about this project – aside from the fact that we still have the basic guitar, drums, bass and bad-ass vocals – is a pretty big departure from anything we’ve done before. It’s tough to compare because I personally see it all as one big learning experience. The song I wrote 10 years ago had to be written so that I could write every song after that. I can definitely say with ease that this project and writing these tunes has been the most fulfilling process.
Music Bugle – What do you attribute your success to?
Austin Held – I believe that our patients and persistence has been the key factor in all of this. We’ve all been playing music and in bands most of our lives and through those experiences, I think we’ve all learned how to be better artists and people. There’s very little ego within the four of us and so, it just makes the process of being a band so much smoother and more fun. It helps, especially when everyone is pretty level-headed and understands what is asked of them from the group and steps up to fill that role.
Music Bugle – If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Nicholas Wiggins – Very interesting question. If I could change one thing, I think it would be the distribution of streaming royalties for artists. I feel like there has to be a better way to make sure artists are paid fairly for the art they create and share with the world.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Damien Ward – It’s been hard not being able to play live for all this time, but we were able to sit and write a ton of music and out of that, came the ‘Get Weird’ LP. After not playing a show since March of 2020, I’m very anxious to get back on stage and get loud.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Jake Jones – Anywhere outside. I have always felt like I need to be outside to recharge myself. Sometimes, it’s a walk. Other times, it’s just sitting and listening to everything around me. It really depends on the day, but I’d say even though I do take breaks in very different ways, it’s usually happening outdoors.