Finally……!! We get round to interviewing the fantastic Pretty Cartel from Lisburn, Northern Ireland. They are an Indie, Rock n Roll, Mod inspired band. Their sound can only be compared to as early Who with layers of 90s Britpop. They are in their tenth year as a band with several releases under their belt including their latest Single “Sunkist Sun”. Another belter tune added to their growing arsenal, They have attracted a dedicated following throughout Northern Ireland and across the UK with sold out gigs across the country. Recently fan favourite “Saturday Kicks” has been honoured as the walk on tune for Linfield Football Club. I have admired them for such along time not only because it’s great to see a band from my homeland succeed but because they are a great bunch of lads who put out great tune after great tune. It’s finally an honour to catch up with them to discuss the past ten years and the continually growing legacy of the band that show know signs of stopping just yet.
Can you give us a brief history of the band since it’s formation in 2012 and over the past 10 years?
Pretty Cartel started out in 2012, The original 5 lads in the line up all lived local to each other and had crossed paths over the years at gigs and parties. We all had a love for guitar music and quickly set about rehearsing our own tracks and making our way out onto the gigging circuit in Northern Ireland. We released our Debut single ‘The Busker’ pretty early on in 2012, which became the backing track to local TV and Radio ads across the country. From there we went into the studio to record our EP ‘Tales of the working class’ and started putting on our own shows, as well as working with various Promoters. We instantly seemed to appeal to the Mod scene, and played various Weekender’s both at home and across on the mainland. We have over the course of the past 10 years released two EP’s ,’Tales of the working class ‘ and ‘ Saturdays Kicks’ , alongside two albums ‘ Subbuteo Balls & Rockstars ‘ and ‘Top Hat Ballroom’. The band has lost a few members, and brought a few old and new faces back into the line up over the years, but we pride ourselves on being very much the PC family, which includes all members and supporters of the band.
Tell us about some of the bands and artists past and present that have been an inspiration to the band?
We were all going into our teenage years in the 90s, and all fell in love to the sounds of Oasis and Britpop. Oasis were obviously the biggest band around at that time, but the likes of Cast, Ocean Colour scene, The Verve , were also very heavy influences on us. The beauty of Oasis also was that they opened fans up to alot of bands that had come before, such as The Jam, The Who, Slade, and of course The Beatles. We think that we have taken a little bit of something from all of those bands and incorporated them into our own style.
What’s the story behind the bands name and what does it mean?
The bands name came about because we are all Pretty and seen as a gang. haha, only kidding.
The Pretty in the name actually came about as Liam Gallagher had not long launched his clothing brand “Pretty Green’ and we loved the ring to that, Im not sure where the Cartel came from, but I’m glad it did, as we think it sounds pretty cool !!
Do you work together on music and lyrics and how does your songwriting process start?
We have worked both together as a full 5 piece on writing songs such as ‘This time’ and ‘Sunkist Sun’. Both these songs came out of maybe a riff on the bass or lead guitar . Its a cool feeling when that happens in the studio, it does feel like a little moment of magic being captured. With most of the other tracks though, they start out with either Ian or Dee picking up an acoustic guitar and penning the song, bringing it up to the rest of the lads, and the track growing into a totally different beast . So everyone brings something to the table.
Tell us about your latest Single Release “Sunkist Sun” and the story behind the lyrics?
Sunkist Sun like i say came about out of a Jam in the studio, with Dee mumbling words over the verses until finding A lyric that sat with the vibe of the sound. The music had a summery feel to it and the lyric that popped up first was Sunkist Sun, it seemed to fit and from then on in its just building a story around it all. Its basically a feel good love song, maybe with some inuendos here and there, similar to the Stone Roses with their track ‘Going down’ but more of a bit of fun for us than anything. It has became a live favourite since we have been able to get back out on the road and perform again.
The band recently released an exclusive video for Linfield Football Club performing a cover version of your hugely popular ‘Saturday’s kicks’ tune. It was also played during a match at Windsor Park, which has got to be amazing. How did this collaboration happen?
Dee has always been an avid Linfield supporter, his Uncle Tommy used to play for the Blues, and it was the board who approached us and asked if we could rewrite a few lyrics, redo the vocal and make Saturdays Kicks Linfields walk out track. It was an honour for us as a band to be asked to do something as big as that, and to see the video and hear the song at every home game just before the team walk out, is something we could never of imagined all those years ago when we got together.
The band have been together 10 years, Tell us about some of the memories that stick out in your mind over that time?
We have had so many brilliant nights over the 10 years, in venues both big and small. Getting to share the stage with Embrace in the Limelight Belfast, and From the Jam in the Ulster hall are obvious stand outs, but we really do love getting into those small packed out venues as well. Our crowd really do make the memories for us, without them, it would all be for nothing.
You have performed in various prestigious venues over the years from The Ulster Hall in Belfast to the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. What cities and venues stick out in your mind as the most memorable?
We have been so fortunate to be able to play those bucket list venues that you have mentioned. Obviously shows in our hometown are very hard to beat, and the Ulster hall is still regarded as one of the best Venues in Northern Ireland, but we have been so lucky that when we have travelled to play the likes of The Cavern Club, Liverpool and Central Grand, Glasgow, Those Cities have made it feel like hometown gigs for us, its surreal to play away from home and hear a crowd sing your lyrics back word for word. We are also hugely thankful that when we do visit across the water, we bring half our country with us. It feels like that anyways haha. The dedication from those that follow Pretty Cartel means the absolute world to us and again makes everything we do more than worth it.
What would you like to say to new fans and those who have supported the band since it’s beginnings?
We would just like to say to those that have followed us from those early shows through to now, that without you all, we would of hung up the guitars a long time ago, every ticket bought and album sold is massive for any band out there. For those who are just discovering us as a band, We hope you go and check out our Albums, and can connect to the sound we make and the Tales we tell from our working class background. Most of all we hope to see you at one of the gigs, and if you ever wanna chat with us, you will know doubt find us at the bar as soon as that last note is hit!
Are you working on any new releases or are you just focusing on gigging at the moment?
We have a Vinyl release to mark our 10 years as a band organised and ready for release later in the year. Everything on our end is done, but there is a serious backlog on Records being produced due to the pandemic, so as of yet an actual release date has still not been confirmed. We are also hopeful to release at least one new single before the year is out, and gigging as much as we possibly can in as many places as we can.
Take this time to mention anyone or anything you wish and give us an insight into what’s coming up or is planned for the future?
We would just like to take this time to shout out our friends and families who have supported us over the course of the last ten years, and again to the PC Loyal that buy tickets, CD’s, T shirts and travel to watch us no matter the city, know matter the venue, We love you!
A special mention also to…
Levels PA who have looked after our sound in venues up and down Northern Ireland, A great group of people , who just love music, and know what to do to make us sound the best we possibly can out front. Jet Black Tulips who are a young Upcoming band armed with some of the best songs we have heard in a long time.
As for the future for Pretty Cartel, As long as the people want to come out and hear us play, we will keep doing it. We are comfortable with where we are as a band, and we feel we are better now as a live band than we have ever been.