Southsea's Icebreaker Festival gets some Pretty Visitors at The One Eyed Dog stage tonight
The Pretty Visitors actually began life way back in 2012.
But as guitarist Aaron Evans puts it ‘uni and adulting came about’. Aaron headed off to Liverpool John Moores University, while the others soldiered on for a few months, before knocking it on the head.
‘Then we all emerged back here, three-four years later, we thought we’d give it a go again, now we’re all back in the same area, and it’s been going well.’
Things clicked immediately once the band reunited in 2018, and since then it’s been all systems go.
Today, they’re headlining The One Eyed Dog stage at Icebreaker, the multi-venue festival celebrating local and unsigned acts.
‘It was as if nothing had changed,’ says Aaron. ‘We had the same sound, but we’d all been practising our instruments over the years, so we had improved musically.
‘We got straight back into it, and we’d all stayed in touch, so nothing had really changed in that respect.’
Since then, their heady brand of rock, from the noisier end of the indie spectrum, has been winning legions of fans.
A gig at The Wedgewood Rooms a year ago was a turning point. Originally booked into neighbouring sister venue the Edge of The Wedge, they quickly sold out the smaller room.
‘They said to us we had two options: you can do two nights in The Edge on Friday and Saturday, or you can do a big one in the main room… We took the main room and played to about 350-400 people.
‘That gave us the confidence and the boost for the rest of the year.’
Now the Gosport-based band are headlining The One Eyed Dog stage. It will be their first time at the event.
‘We’ve always wanted to play it, but I think we weren’t mature enough and missed the mark in previous years. We hadn’t really applied ourselves as we are doing now. I think that initial gig in the Wedgewood Rooms, and we nearly sold out The Joiners in Southampton as well, have sort of cemented our name in the area a bit.’
‘Then one day we got an email from Mike (Hartley, Icebreaker co-organiser) saying: “Would you like to play the One Eyed Dog?” And we jumped all over it.
The band, which is completed by Connor Reid, Sam Bennett and Jack Rudland, put out a collection of demos last year, just to get some of their songs out there for fans to listen to.
‘Some of those songs were ideas we had floating around for a while, we’d come back and started playing with them again. We picked our favourites out of those – they’re just demos, not studio quality at all. We went to our friend Calum Lintott, who’s also an artist,’ and playing at 6pm at Icebreaker in The Wine Vaults, ‘he works at itchen College, so after hours we’d go over there and use their music room to make these rough recordings.
‘And they came out really well, so we thought we should get them out there as soon as possible.
But they did make a very entertaining video for one of those tracks – It’s Not Easy – filmed in Wickham town square.
The idea for it had come to Aaron when he was in Bognor Regis: “This guy pulled up in his car, his wife got out to go off and do her shopping or whatever, and then I heard Billy Joel blasting out of his car. He got out of the car to have a fag, and it got me thinking, an old guy, unsuspecting, pulls up in a quintessentially English town and he’s like Jekyll and Hyde and turns into Mr Hyde when she’s gone. Wickham seemed like the best fit for it.’
The band are releasing their first ‘proper’ single, Mystery Woman on February 14, and it’s one they’re rather proud of.
‘We invested a solid weekend into it, and it sounds great.
‘There’s so many layers that have gone into it. I recorded four guitars over the same track, Jack, the drummer was using a stick wrapped in a kitchen towel to get a nice thud on one of the drum beats, there’s a bit of slide guitar in there and allsorts, we got very experimental. Connor, the singer, had a microphone swung like a windmill towards an amp, so you’ve got this very close and far away sound going on.
‘It got very weird...’
But before then, they’re planning to get down to Icebreaker early and soak up some of the atmosphere before their set.
‘We’re hoping to get down there from when it starts and check the scene out.
‘We’ve played with Dutch Criminal Recor before, and they’re on before us.
‘I’d like to check out The Stone Birds, they’re a fellow Gosport band, and they’re quite Iggy Pop-rocky, and we love that sort of thing. Sad Palace are a great band as well, it would be good to check them out.’
THE PRETTY VISITORS
The One Eyed Dog, Southsea
Saturday, January 25