Tristan Prettyman, 2008

 

Written by: Jason Perlman

 

Hey, how are you doing?
I am good, how are you?

 

I am spectacular.
That is even better than fabulouso.

 

True, but it’s like 95 degrees, so that will change when I go outside.
Well, when the tour with G. Love and Special Sauce gets there it get even hotter. But we are going to bring some beer.

 

I thought the first record was great and very bluesy but seem to grow with each recording and with Hello…x there was growth as far as variant of styles. How much of that is due to touring and experiencing different elements both on and off stage?
I think when I first started I was really adamant about not having a super-produced record and when someone would say, “Let me play a drum beat,” I would be like, “No.” Someone else would want to play a guitar lick and I would say, “No.” So it took a while for me to realize that just adding those do not make a record sound super-poppy. That seems to come in post production and how things are recorded. I was very protective of it for a long time and then kind of eased into it with TWENTYTHREE. There was actually more instrumentation onTWENTYTHREE than on Hello…x when it comes to layering and how many tracks are on each song. But there are more songs with just the guitar and just me and I think that touring has a lot to do with it but more from being around different bands and different musicians and artists and seeing how they approach music and how they write songs and play a live show. But before I made this record, I listened to a lot of old ‘60s and ‘70s records at my parents and I think that had a big influence on me in the studio. I just wanted to make a more bluesy, groovy and darker record than the first one.

 

It’s funny you say that about being darker, because I was thinking that about the writing, but at the same time there always seems to be this undertone of optimism in your vocals. Is that conscious or something in your personality that you just cannot hide from?
Yea, I am not one of those tortured souls. Sometimes I think I should be like that, more depressed or drunk or on pain medication but I am just pretty normal for the most part. I like Whole Foods and Starbucks. I am not a very good rock star. I just want to go run and do yoga and eat some edamame.  So I think it is just something in my personality, because no matter how sad I am I look at the brighter side of things. Or at least I try to.

 

You mentioned the word “pop” a little bit ago, and depending on who you are that can have a very positive or very negative connotation to it.  For a band like U2, they strive to be pop and do it in a very productive way and I think you found some sort of variance of that on Hello…x. Did you find yourself of having to find a line and not cross it?
I think that the way I write songs is very unique to me and I don’t really see something and think, “God, I have to write a song about that.” The songs just kind of some to me from a place that I have no idea where it is or where they come from. And as far as production goes, I just used classic instruments like pedal steel and slide guitar. We had some bass and drums and added a Wurlitzer. We had a whole lot of percussion and I thought the more we kept it to organic instruments and kept it that way that it couldn’t ever sound too poppy. And that is all I ever really wanted to see from this record. I want people to say, “Here is a girl who can play guitar, has a great voice, and is a good musician and a great songwriter.” I just want to be respected more than anything. But I think I did realize that I had to branch out and I did some co-writing which I have always been against and came to the realization in myself that I have a lot of really great ideas and great song lyrics. So I have the right ingredients. But it is like when I try to cook a meal. I have all the right ingredients, and I mix it together and put it in the oven but it never seems to come out right. So I need someone to show me how to beat the eggs and these are the secrets to making great cupcakes.  So I needed help in organizing and arranging and there is kind of a formula for making a good, catchy song. So I dabbled in that a teeny bit, because songs on the radio have to be kind of specific. And although I was never writing a record for that, but songs like Madly and War Out of Peace are like that and more obvious radio-ready. But when I play those songs, they are still very much me and I can play them stripped down and if you were to hear the demos, they sound a lot alike. So yea, there is a fine line and I think I got really lucky.

 

I remember asking G. Love this about a year ago about his record that had a lot of co-writing and guest artist spots. How much freedom are you allowing the co-writers before you feel the song is becoming not enough about you?
Well, I am always open to co-writing musically, but the lyrics have to be mine. But I have always written my own lyrics and I will continue to always write my own lyrics. I don’t think I could ever sing someone else’s words. But when I came to recording with all these guys from England, we just sat down and jammed out a couple of songs and immediately it clicked. I loved the guys, we had the same vibe. So I would just play a song and they would join in and play whatever they were feeling. We weren’t trying to make I sound big, so they just played what they were feeling and we got really lucky that everyone was on the same page, was very respectful and I think the songs, when stripped down, have so much personality of their own that it made it hard to make them about anything more than what they are.

 

The last time I saw you live was with Ben Taylor in Columbus at The Basement.
Aw, that was such a fun show.

 

It was a great show, and I think part of the reason was the intimacy of the venue. Now, you are going to be outside with a few thousand people and does anything within you change as the show and venue change?
Definitely. The smaller, more intimate venues where I headline, they allow a lot more room for the quieter, slower songs. Plus the fans of mine come out and I can play older stuff and songs that they want to hear me play. So those shows tend to be a lot more special because they are a lot more intimate and I can get away with playing something really, really mellow and I can play they faster stuff. But especially with G. Love, when I open for him I try to keep it up and pretty rocking. If I were to play a slow love song I would probably lose the audience. Everyone would be like, “I gotta go get a beer. Beer break!” Those shows with G. Love, the crowd is there to have a good time and party so I have learned to cater to that, which sucks at times because fans will come and tell me they wished I played some other songs like Electric. And I really want to play Electric because I love that song and love to play songs that somebody at the show wants to hear but then I would lose 99 percent of the crowd. But at the same time, it is fun to just come on stage and bang it out and play a rocking set for 45 minutes. It’s a great feeling and that kind of energy is floating around more so it’s better all the way around for everybody.

 

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, and we will see you in Columbus.
I am really looking forward to playing in Columbus and seeing all my friends again.

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