(EDITOR’S NOTE: Pretty in Plaid is releasing its first EP, streaming on Nov. 17. Benjamin Joe of 1120 Press caught up with the guys: Kurt Wissing on vocals; Joel Proulz and Lou Muscato on guitar; Rob Vansaders on drums and Luke Work on bass, at the Whole Foods bar by Niagara Falls Boulevard. The group was cordial and open about their long history in the area, bands forming, broken, reforming. One thing’s for sure: they aren’t going to be quitting any time soon. 1120 Press thanks Pretty in Plaid for their time. Please read our story below, and follow the band on Spotify and their socials at Instagram, and Facebook. Also, check out their song 'Halley' below. — Photo by Benjamin Joe)
1120PRESS: Thank you so much for speaking with us. The first Pretty in Plaid EP is coming out, ‘Deciding to Tell the Truth.’ What was the impetus to making it and how was that process?
KURT: Basically, we just have a group of songs that we play and each of them fall into one thing. I don’t think there was any spiritual drive, it was just what we were doing. I wrote most of the lyrics. I wanted to come up with a title that encompassed everything. A lot of those songs for me were about talking the truth about things that happened to me. Things you wouldn’t say in a normal conversation.
ROB: Usually what happens is somebody comes up with a riff and brings it in. As a collective, we all contribute in some way. So, for me it’s usually some kind of dynamics, different bells and whistles I like to put on things. Once we organize the structure of the song and we record ourselves doing it a couple of times, we come back and sometimes it’s right on the spot.
LOU: I didn’t really put anything into the album. I just joined the band a couple of months ago. All of the songs had already been made before I came in.
JOEL: He is on the album though!
1120: This is the first EP for Pretty in Plaid, but going through the Facebook feed a couple times we realized you guys had a variety of line-ups and you were ‘Catch the Lion’ as early as June 2022. Do you think there’s a kind of market for your kind of music that keeps you going here in Buffalo?
JOEL: It’s hard to keep a band together with everybody’s schedules and everything. Rob, me and Kurt were in Catch the Lion and that whole thing kind of fell apart, for a lot of reasons, but we decided to go more towards subversive rock, punk rock. We think there’s a lot of market for that here in Buffalo. There’s a lot of punk bands and people seem to receive them well. For me, it’s more about going back to my roots. Like in high school and all that. I think we’ve been more well-received.
LUKE: Every show’s different, y’know? You go in sort of with no expectations.
LOU: My first show was at Nietzsche’s; when was that? There were a lot of people there. A lot more than I was expecting. I never played a show like that in my life, like at a venue, at an actual show, with lots of people. I thought it was cool.
ROB: Just on that vein, realistically, three of us have kids, two of us have multiple kids so it’s kind of Weekend Warrior shit. But the goal, the realistic goal, is to become a well-known Buffalo band. Touring and stuff like that is totally out. Our goal is to play a show and have strangers sing along.
1120: Where did you guys go to make the album? What was the process like?
JOEL: We practiced and recorded at a little building in my backyard that’s set up as a practice space/recording studio. We started recording in March and then it was six months because between practicing for shows and getting a new member, we had a lot going on.
1120: We asked this before, but it’s kind of like: someone brings in a good riff and you all gel to it?
KURT: I think for every song, almost every song, we start with music first then lyrics come in.
1120: What are the plans for the future?
ROB: We’re already started working on the next thing, whether it’s another single release or EP or full length. We’ve got one in the tank, just finishing up with everything last night, actually. It’s a pretty good song.
JOEL: We’re trying to outdo the songs on the EP.
ROB: I think with Lou in the band now, too, he’s doing a lot of the writing and it’s bringing a different sound that is allowing all of us to kind of do a bit more.
LOU: One of the newer songs I set down a bass line and started recording ideas that I had, and one of them I recorded just a rough sketch of it — and it’s different now, but what it was when I recorded it, it’s just so much better. That’s the point of it to me: Here’s this idea I had while sleeping upstairs and playing a riff … all the lightbulbs turn on when we get together and play it. Everybody adds their two cents… It’s easy when you have guys like this who can take your idea and make it into a song.
1120: How long do each of you think you can do this?
ROB: I think everybody has a different answer. I can start. For me, personally, back in the day, I was trying to make it as a drummer/musician and do cool things. I played with The Killers for a show and did some tours. A lot of fun stuff. Around that time and I got married, had a kid and moved up here and gave up playing for a couple of years. I was lost! So, no matter what I do personally going forward, it’s always going to be a part of me. Playing drums and sweating up there is always going to be a part of my future, and I’d love it to be with this group. Joel and I met about five years ago. This is our third project together. For me it makes me, and I’m never going to go away from that again. Two and a half years it was like I was lost. It was weird. Just working and being a dad wasn’t doing it for me. I can do those things better if I can scratch that itch.
LOU: I’m the same, this is the first band I’ve been in since high school. I’ve been friends with Luke for 15 years. He texted me and asked if I played guitar anymore and if I wanted to play. I didn’t even hesitate. I didn’t even ask my wife. I was just like, “yeah, fuck yeah.” When I went to their first show, I was amazed. They were really good, actually! I was sitting there and listening to their stuff and said, “yeah, let’s go.”
LUKE: When it stops being fun, that’s when I’ll stop. Because for me it’s something about getting together and playing out. When it stops being fun, I’ll stop doing it.
JOEL: Being in a band is a need for me. I’m completely clean and sober for about nine years.
ROB: I am too.
JOEL: So, this is what feeds my soul. If this band breaks up, I’m going to be in another band. I obviously hope this one continues and it’s funny: We’ve (me and Rob) been in a band for the last five years now and he always tells this story when our first band broke up. He said he came over to my house …
ROB: I remember he was sitting there all depressed in a robe. (laughs) He was wearing pajama pants, but I just remember him all depressed in this robe and I’m a little older, so I’d been in three times as many bands as him. And that’s just the way this shit goes. So, I reassured him and we got into it again with Catch the Lion and that segued into all of this. …
JOEL: I’m hoping this band keeps going, but ultimately, if this band breaks up, I’ll keep playing music.
KURT: I guess for me it’s about the experience of being the listener and the audience. It’d be great to see the band continue and make songs, and also have live performances that we bring an energy to every time that makes the experience for the consumer better. I think once we get to the point where we’re only focusing on ourselves, when we’re not getting a return from the audience, from the listener, that’s the time to reassess or move on to something else. But if we keep can build off that and provide a product (people) want to hear, we should all be peachy at that point. I also want to keep in mind that whoever’s listening to this, whoever’s watching us, they’re part of the band, too, and they can feel like they belong and if they want to sing along? Then we’re doing something.