While writing this piece, I pondered on what immediately drew my attention to Welsh rock band, Pretty Vicious. It started from a YouTube search and it landed in their live performance of their song, “Are You Entertained,” off of their debut album, Beauty Of Youth. There was a certain energy about it that personified the frustrations and tough roads that the band took to get to their first album. An energy that Beauty Of Youth strives to shake off with reckless authority.
Given the early label frustrations, the difficulty of recording their debut album with producer Owen Morris, and the band eventually making their exit from Virgin EMI, it looked like their promising future was fading. However, with a new producer in tow, Dan Austin and a new partnership with the record label known for their country acts, Big Machine Records, Pretty Vicious is back older and wiser. Beauty Of Youth captures a band who has made it to hell and back and brought some of that fire with them.
Just hinting from the album title, youth gives you chances to bounce back and reinvent yourself. I spoke to drummer Elliot Jones about the band’s road here and the composition of the new album that is a big middle finger to those who counted them out.
The band made a conscious decision to release four singles before. Beauty of Youth dropped. We definitely live in a time where the album rollout has changed. Usually, it’s just one single then the album or the sneak attack method. How important was it for the band to have a slow burn entry into your debut?
We needed to introduce ourselves to the world. We’ve been around for a couple years now but after signing to an American label like Big Machine it was obvious we needed to get the word out there, especially in the US where we were completely unknown. We felt like we needed to paint a picture of ourselves first before introducing the full album to the world.
When I listen to Beauty of Youth, I get a sense of every ounce of anger, excitement, and frustration that the band has been through for the three years leading up to this. I know there were some in between record label issues and of course, with being a young band and growing up, there are bound to be some growing pains.
There are always ups and downs with every band, that’s just the nature of the industry. The trick is to roll with the punches when you’re down and to not get swallowed in the hype when you’re on the up and up. There has been a bunch of different emotions and feelings over the past couple of years and we definitely tried to capture some of that for this record.
The album opener, “These Four Walls” is an exciting opener, but it was originally a softer song when you started. Can you speak about the process of changing the song to the frenetic pace that we hear now?
We’d always wanted that song to be what it is now but we could never quite capture it in the studio properly. That’s where our producer Dan Austin came in and really brought the record to life. He helped us capture the live energy in the music that we’d been trying to emulate for so long whilst still making it sound somewhat polished. The man is a sonic wizard and the record would’ve been completely different without his input.
“Move” kind of piggy backs off the feeling of “These Four Walls.” That feeling that you get when you go to a crazy rock show. It’s almost that you constructed these songs with a live setting in mind, it seems.
“These Four Walls” and “Move” both share a similar theme in living while you’re young and going to gigs and describing some of the experiences we have while we’re young. “Move” is us having fun and making a song that you can dance and jump around to without a care in the world. It’s just about being at a party and having your eyes on the fittest girl there, the one that really stands out, you know?
When I listen to “Something Worthwhile,” it sounds like an inner rallying cry, but in two different ways. I see it as the musical dream of the band continuing, but then there’s the illusion to cash for health in the chorus as well. It takes a deeper meaning, especially for younger people looking for deeper experiences. How important is this song to you?
Personally, this is my favorite song on the record. It’s supposed to be a bittersweet song about being disillusioned with modern life but still wanting more from it. In this generation with people struggling to find their place, it’s about trying to find meaning and purpose for yourself, not just living for a pay check, but living for yourself.
How does it feel to be on Big Machine Records? It’s a label that’s more known for it’s country acts, but it’s good to see that they are investing in younger rock acts.
Big Machine has been so good to us. We’re part of the joint venture between them and fashion designer John Varvatos who wanted to have a place to develop and push up and coming rock artists like us. It’s pretty crazy to us being signed to a label from the other side of the world!
I read that you all grew up in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, which is a pretty working class town. When I listen to “No One Understand” and just the words, I feel that it’s you all breaking out of that small town life for a bigger dream. In this case, music and what you love even though people may not see the bigger picture.
That’s exactly what the song is about, and we feel as though that’s a pretty universal feeling, wanting to break away from the life you know to pursue something better. People might not all be supportive but the point is you’ve gotta look past that and focus on what you want above all else. Whether that be music or anything else, you’ve just gotta stay true to yourself and not let your dreams and passions be put down by anyone else.
The title of the album and the songs like “I Don’t Wanna Know” and “Force of Nature” encompasses this middle finger attitude. What I mean by that is that there’s this feeling of discarding expectations that I love. Force of Nature in particular and the destructive capability that it holds. It’s also freeing at the same time. Is this album viewed in the band as destroying the circumstances you had prior?
In a way the album is about destroying everything you once knew and starting again. That’s what we had to do with this record, discard every song we previously had and write a whole new record. A major part of youth is destruction, destroying your sense of identity and destroying misconceptions you once had about the world. That’s part of growing up and we wanted to encapsulate that feeling on this album. The freedom in knowing that you can start again whenever you want. The freedom in knowing that you can chose to be whatever you want to be or whoever you want to be.