Former bandmates J.R. Ross and Travis McGuire reconnected by trading demos to each other in the spring of 2018. Not wasting any time, the longtime friends and collaborators recruited drummer, Devin White, thus forming Pretty Little Thieves.
2021 is bringing the band back to the stage in support of these recordings which fans are already calling a perfect soundtrack to the summer after a sullen year in quarantine. The Thieves are hungry to resume pummeling Austin’s live scene with a sound that is infused with 60s psych, 70s power pop, and 90s swagger.
Implementing a warranted sense of nostalgia, Pretty Little Thieves brings us the harmonic bliss that is “The Death of Anton Newcombe.” Wrapping our heads around the flood of intensified guitar riffs that punch the speakers in a way that instills classic hues in the new wave of rock, Pretty Little Thieves has redefined the basis of groove-infused attitude served up with an edgy side of magnetism.
Combing a psychedelic atmosphere that hones in on musical breaks, solos, and a protruding effervescence that makes up the echo-drenched, melismatic harmonies, “The Death of Anton Newcombe,” brings us a flavor that we’ve been missing as of late. As lyrical motifs like, ‘You stole the light, but you fill in the dark, and heaven is bright, so you hang from the arch,’ instigate an overflow of thoughts that have you leaching onto the abstract words sprawled through this musical canvas, there’s a prominent portion of desire that leaks into the sentimental sector in unison.
Admiring the rhythmic sway that takes full control of our very being, the prevailing nature of Pretty Little Thieves emphasizes the importance of a message that holds a captivating tone that you’re destined to remember. There is no doubt about it, Pretty Little Thieves knows exactly what they’re destined to do, and they excel at it.
“The Death of Anton Newcombe” submerged us in a wistful soundscape that the band executes remarkably well! Could you please shine a light on how the musical foundation of this record was formed, and how you all built on the vision?
J.R. Ross: A funny story. I sat on this riff for two years before I wrote “The Death Of Anton Newcombe”. For the longest time, I couldn’t find a path for the song. One day, it finally clicked and I recorded all the demo tracks in about four hours. When we took it to our producer, Danny Reisch (Good Danny’s), and recorded the basic tracks it just sounded kind of plain. Once again, we were dead in the water, but we all knew the song was missing something. We added a little tambourine, but that felt like we were still missing something, then some Vibraphone, still missing something. During a break from recording, Travis had brought up “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. Which to me was a 180 from what we were tracking. I mean, I do like that song, but at first, I had no clue where he was going with it. Travis mentioned a particular drum part from that song where it gets very loud with a lot of reverberation. When our producer Danny heard that, All I can remember him saying was “It’s about to get weird!” He had laid out dozens of percussion instruments on the floor and we started recording. You can hear it in the background of the track. It really fills in the gaps and makes the song sound full. I just remember thinking to myself. Wow, Some Simon & Garfunkel inspiration made it on this EP.
How would you compare this single to the other songs heard on your EP 'Half?' Why does this particular record stand apart from the rest?
J.R. Ross: As a band who’s heavily influenced by so many artists, I think that’s why we work so well with each other. When a demo is presented by a member of the band, we submerge ourselves into their song. Because if they're bringing it to the table, they know it’s good. So we listen carefully and think about what can we add to that song. Every song on our EP is completely different but played with the same attitude. “The Death Of Anton Newcombe” is definitely psychedelic and homage to one of my favorite songwriters. I don’t think you can really compare it to anything else on the EP. With this being our first studio EP, we don’t have much to compare it with. Although, we have our demo record, Anthology. Vol 2 on our website for fans who like our band. It was just something we put out during the middle of the pandemic since all of our shows were canceled.
What musical and non-musical inspirations do Pretty Little Thieves bring into the creative process? How have you all evolved in this department since forming in 2018?
Travis: Our musical inspirations are pretty vast. J.R. and I first bonded because we loved so many different types of music and could just talk records all day. We're like musical sponges. Devin too! We're always sending each other new songs or bands to check out. Sometimes that can be tough because we want this band to sound cohesive so how do we bring all those different styles together and not sound schizophrenic right? So for Pretty Little Thieves, we're mostly tapping into psych-rock, brit-pop, a little punk, and new wave. For non-musical inspirations--you can just find that anywhere: watching the news, taking a walk, looking at some cool art. I think the film is maybe the biggest non-music inspiration for us, we're total movie geeks. As for our musical evolution, we're still a pretty new band but we have a big backlog of songs and are always coming up with new ideas, so... I guess we'll have to wait and see.
What’s your mission statement as a band? Has this been consistent through your career thus far?
Travis: We’ve all been in a bunch of bands together and separately over the years. When you're younger you just want to get laid and party. I mean you always want to be having fun or it's not worth it, but we definitely treat it as more of a business now. We actually talked about it when we started the band, we said Let's take everything we did wrong in our old bands and do the opposite. Almost like those were all practice runs and this one is the real deal. It's a culmination of learning from a lot of trial and error. But mostly we just want our music in car commercials.