YOU CAN'T help but wanna be best friends with The Prettiots. Waxing poetic on high school exploits and romance gone awry—or both, as demonstrated in their hysterical laundry list single "Boys I Dated in High School"—the NYC natives exude this devil-may-care attitude while extensively detailing all kinds of emotions and cares. It's ukulele-driven pop played with one eye squinted, and at the rate that the press is catching on, Stopover's the time to see them before they break.
The trio—Kay Kasparhauser, Rachel Trachtenburg, and Lulu Prat—are about to head out on their first tour as a band; we checked in with Kasparhauser.
The Prettiots is still a pretty young band.
Kay Kasparhauser: Yeah, I think we've been together about a year and a half.
I think the first thing I heard of yours was when Rookie posted your cover of [Misfits’] “Skulls.” I remember reading that you really liked all these heavy bands—paired with the ukulele, that was awesome, and unexpected. How’d you start playing?
I’ve been playing the ukulele since I was 17—to be completely honest, I bought it when I was really drunk and forgot about it, and it arrived in the mail one day, and I was like, ‘Well shit, I guess I gotta get really good at this!’ I started playing all the time. It’s so small, and it’s compact and portable.
Were you learning covers or writing your own stuff?
I was too scared to write for years! I only started writing three or four years ago.
How did you meet Rachel and Lulu?
I was doing weird, solo music, and I was opening for Supercute!, Rachel’s old band. I kind of determined that I needed a drummer, because my weird solo stuff was too weird, so I asked Rachel to be my drummer. And after playing together for a while, we decided needed a bass player, so we asked Lulu; she had played bass on tour with Supercute! That’s how we all got together.
Do you handle most of the songwriting?
I do the lyrics and most of the music on the album, and then Lulu’s done some of the music on the album, also. It’s a collaborative process.
When’s the album coming out?
Probably around end of summer—it’s really summery album.
Do you think a lot of that is the natural tone of the ukulele, or the songwriting, too?
Oh, definitely the ukulele. But it’s also more complex. Being in the studio forces opportunities. There’s way more instruments on it. When we play live, there’s just three of us. On the album, there’s a lot more going on. I play mandolin on a couple, Lulu plays guitar, there’s a lot more vocal harmonies—just like a lot more layers.
Thematically, what’s it like?
(Laughs) Mostly about boys! More of the same. Sometimes I think that I'll write something...ah, not all are about boys. I would love to not think about boys all the time! I gotta stop!
Does it help writing it out?
Yeah it does. I'm a classic over-sharer. We'll just be in a cab, or on the train, and I'll be talking to my bandmates in some silly sing-song voice saying something really, really personal and absurd and it's like, 'Okay, I just wrote a new song!'
That oversharing though, like on "Boys I Dated in High School," is totally part of the appeal.
It's like that with all of our songs, but specifically that one! To be completely honest, I didn't change anyone's name! That's straight-up, actual boys! My best friend from high school and I are still really good friends, and she comes to our shows sometimes; I can't get through a song without laughing. She knows all of 'em.
Did any of them hear it and get in touch with you?
One person texted me from an unknown number! I got a text that said, "Sorry I wasn't nice or cool." (Laughs) I was like, 'Oh my God, sorry! Whoever this is, I'm sure you were nice and cool!' We had a nice conversation. He's a nice dude. We get along fine—I'm a little terrified of the others.
Have y'all toured before this?
This is our first tour, and my first one ever. Rachel and Lulu played in other bands, so they have lots of experience. They're both younger than me, but they're both more experienced.
Are you nervous at all?
I'm terrified! I've never even been on a road trip! But I'm so excited. We're all from New York City—they're from Brooklyn and I'm from Manhattan, born and raised—I haven't really been out of the city that much. So I'm like, really excited to see parts of the world I haven't seen.
You seem to have a really definitive style: is that going to come through on the album design and artwork?
Yeah; what's been fun is to work with a bunch of cool artists: we had a residency in the city, and this amazing artist Grace Lane did this poster for us, this artist Heather Benjamin is doing our tour poster. We're working with all girl artists, just rad female artists.
What's their style like, is it bubblegum-y?
Definitely with Grace and Heather, it's more dark. They've both done a lot of artwork for metal bands. I can't even tell you how much fun it is for us all to work together. They relish the opportunity to use their skill set for something that's so out of the ordinary.
There's something really awesomely subversive about having this super-metal looking art for a pop band with a ukulele.
Exactly, and I love that. Like our video for "Boys I Dated in High School"—that was shot by Richard Kern, who's a famous porn director. But he's a dear, just an amazing dude. He totally gets The Prettiots. That's kind of something I totally get off on doing—taking these subversive things and turning them on their head.