Pretoria is an energetic, guitar-driven alternative rock band hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Composed of guitarist Josh Bilisko, bassist Rob Gullett, and drummer Ben DeWitt, the trio originally started as a duo between Josh and Rob while attending the same high school. When asked how it all started, Bilisko recalls, “Rob and I were in the same weight training class and I saw him wearing a Nirvana t-shirt, so I knew we had similar music interests.” Their musical chemistry was instant and together they started composing original works. As their lyrics grew the group followed suit, and Ben was added to the group.
Pretoria’s sound is a fusion of indie influences and evokes artists like And The Kids, Beach Fossils and Wallows. Bilisko expresses his “love for the Wallow's ability to represent indie rock in a poppy form.” Their goal as a band is to produce melodic vocal lines that quickly engage a live audience.
In August 2018, Pretoria debuted its first official EP and continued to gain ground by appearing at several shows throughout Northern USA as well as receiving airtime on stations such as; WYCE 88.1 and WRWW 92.3. Starting 2019 with a bang, the trio has released singles including “Lafayette Ave”, “Keep Two Stepping” and “Cape Town”.
November 23, 2019, marks the release of their new single “Gently”, a beautiful and truly relaxing use of acoustic sound. After 23 seconds of listening, I was unexpectedly transported from a cold winter’s day to a warm sand-filled beach in the summer heat. Their song takes my mind to happier memories and seamlessly eases my mind. However, diverting my attention to their lyrics I soon realized the true intentions of this song, which expresses the miscommunication between lovers during vocals, “I’m a long way from excepting why we can’t have a happy ending”. I love how this song evokes both happiness and empathy, the clever use of soothing indie-surf music with meaningful and relatable lyrics. I’m curious to see what the future holds for these extremely talented men.
Listen to "Gently" here
Hey there Pretoria! Welcome to BuzzMusic! We’re completed captivated by your sound- Gently is such a tranquil track. Can you explain what you mean by releasing music with a new take on surf-inspired indie sound? We love dipping our toes into different styles, and this song exemplifies that perfectly. It’s got everything from power-pop to western to Latin music, while still staying rooted in Pretoria’s sound. We want to use our influences to break some new ground. Listening to “Gently” expresses a dialogue between lovers, does this song have a significance to any of your personal relationships? Gently isn’t necessarily a retelling of a specific moment in my life, but it is inspired by relationships I’ve been in. It’s really about that moment in a relationship when you realize that the spark is gone. Kinda sad. Tell us about the creation process of "Gently" We often collaborate as a band when we write, but that was not the case with Gently. Ben wrote the song and recorded it, then he had Rob track the vocals. The whole band had to approve of everything, of course. So everyone still had a say as to what they wanted out of the song. What are some of your ultimate goals as artists? Are any of these goals currently being put into place/ being worked on? We’d love to reach as many people as we can with our songs. Music is an unparalleled form of expression and we want to share ours with the world. We’re always trying to find new fans by playing shows and planning new tours. For many that are not familiar with the name Pretoria, can you explain how the band chose this to be your name! Pretoria is one of the three capital cities of South Africa. We’re not from there. We’re not affiliated with the country in any way. Josh’s friend told us to name our band that, and we did. It’s really kind of a lame story, but the name stuck and we love it. What's next for Pretoria as 2019 comes to an end?
New year, new shows, new music. We’re always up to something ;)