The Prettiots don’t care if you think their ukelele jams are cutesy—they’ll go right ahead and strum their hearts out anyway. Lead singer Kay Goldberg, 23, drummer Rachel Trachtenburg, 20, and bassist Lulu Prat, 18, have a strong sense of self as a band, and the trio hvae been slowly growing a following on the strength of just two singles, “Dreamboy” and “Stabler.” Today, Rookie has the pleasure of premiering their third track, a cover of the Misfits’ “Skulls,” which you can stream up top. As an added bonus, Kay took the time to email with us about being pigeonholed for having bangs, how one dude’s dumb Facebook rant impacted their band, and writing love songs based on Law & Order.
CAITLIN WHITE: Your name is such a great pun. How did you come up with it?
KAY GOLDBERG: There was this really tall tech dude at my old job who always posted the most ridiculous Facebook statuses. One day, he went on this full-on rant about pretty, dumb people who think they can get away with anything, and concluded it by calling them “prettiots”. We were in the process of coming up witha a new name because no one could spell, pronounce, or remember our old one [Kasparhauser], we thought that fit perfectly.
Some of you were in different bands before—Rachael’s old band Supercute! actually wrote Rookie’s first theme song! How did this particular lineup get together?
I started making music pretty late. I wasn’t in bands in high school, and then I used to play weird experimental solo stuff and would sometimes open for Supercute! So that’s how I met Rachel, and she introduced me to Lulu, whom she had played with before.
What inspired you to cover the Misfits, and who are some other musical influences that people might assume you guys don’t listen to, given your delicate sound?
The idea to do a Misfits cover is actually a remnant from my solo days, and I love “Skulls” so much, so it just seemed perfect. Back then, I only did covers, mostly of bands like the Misfits and Bad Brains, but also, like, Bieber songs.
Mostly, though, I basically abhorred all things “cute” or pop-influenced until about three years ago. The bands I’ve spent the most time listening to are Lightning Bolt, Eyehategod, and Darkthrone, but now I’d also have to add ABBA and the Beach Boys to that list. Rachel loves King Crimson and Fat Joe, and Lulu listens to King Diamond and Black Flag.
I read that you have plans to release an album—what are the details there? Will it be self-released?
It’s going to be self-released unless some Frankie Sharp–type guy is riding around in his limo reading this interview and decides to sign us…in which case, party on! We’re working with an awesome producer named Matt Gill, but since we recorded the first half before we were graced with Lulu’s lovely bass skills, we may have to go back and re-record it.
What is your songwriting process like? Do you come up with your lyrics and melodies separately?
I wrote about half of the songs on the album on bass, and then filed in the ukulele parts, and the rest of the tracks were done on uke first. Usually, I have a few that I’m working with and one idea that I think is cute, and I go from there. That sounds easy, but it’s the hardest thing in the world. I used to do a lot of instrumental stuff that was more experimental, and even though it was much more technically complex, it was easier in a way—lyrics are a bitch.
My lyrics are completely honest. They aren’t particularly flowy or poetic, but they’re 100% true to my thoughts at any given moment. I like to talk about Werner Herzog and sex.
There are plenty of traditionally “cute” elements in your music, but there’s also an undercurrent of straight-up confidence. How do you think those things complement each other?
Whether we come across as cute or strong, I’m lucky, because most of the time, I definitely don’t feel like I’m either of those. But I’ll tell you one thing—some people see a ukulele and their eyes nearly fall out of their face from all the rolling. There’s a major stereotype attached to the ukulele-playing, bangs-having, floral-dress-wearing indie folk band thing—especially when all of those things are actually true of us! I like to think we have more to say than you’d expect from some archetype, though.
“Stabler” is all about your love for Law & Order detective Eliot Stabler. What makes him such a dreamboat?
Literally everything. It’s not even remotely a joke how deep my infatuation with Elliot runs. He is stern yet compassionate, smart and tough, and committed to his work and his family, but also just unhinged enough to make him intriguing. Sometimes he can’t control his anger, or gets suspended, which is part of the allure: He’s a rebel, but his cause is justice. ♦
Caitlin Cristin White is a writer who lives in New York City. She likes puppies and poetry, but hates phonies. She lives in praise of the mysteries.