Say Hello to Tristan Prettyman

Myself and Brooke Neal recently sat down for an interview with singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman. Prettyman recently released her sophomore album “Hello,” on Virgin Records. In the green room of the House of Blues New Orleans Parish Room, Prettyman discussed her new album, surfing, and Ray Lamontagne.

McClain: What’s the most repetitive question you get from interviewers?
How was this record different than the last record? {Laughs}

McClain: Do you have a standard response for that?
That’s a long answer. That’s why I remember it being the most repetitive. {Laughs}

McClain: What was the first song you wrote for “Hello?”
There were several tracks from this record that were written a while ago. “Echo,” “Handshake,” “Blindfold,” those were the three that I played live. Everything else was written in a two-month period.

McClain: Do you have a favorite track off of the record? A most personal track?
Generally, it changes all the time. We’ve just worked out all the songs live. It changes daily. “Hello” is pretty fun to play. “You Got Me” is really fun to play. “Interviews” is really fun to play. They are all really fun to play because they are all fairly new.

Brooke: When I saw you last time, you were talking to G. Love here. You were mentioning that the other guitar parts were really interregnal. Now that you are on tour, are you able to get the sound you want?
The new record has so many layers and textures on it. There are so many little guitar parts that are really key. When you take that and turn it into a three piece for the road, you feel like there is something missing. It sounds a little bit empty, but we’ve done a really good job of turning the songs into our own. I generally hate band rehearsal, so I generally really like to sort everything out on the road as the tour goes on. That’s where we are now. We’re just getting to the point where we’ve arranged all the songs to where they feel good to us. Now we just play them and enjoy them, and it’s not like we are trying to remember the parts and everything. It’s much more enjoyable now than it was then. The G. Love tour was right, right, right, right at the beginning.

McClain: Do you feel like the songs have evolved? Do you feel like you jam them out more?
I think so. You get the core of it down and then there’s more room to flow. The songs are in one stage when I wrote them, then in another stage when I record them. Then you take them on the road. They just go through this cycle where they evolve even more than they are on the record. They are all kind of in that phase right now. We’ve come up with new arrangements for older songs that were on the “Love EP” and “Twentythree.” They are always changing.

McClain: That’s awesome how the songs evolve. Do you ever write while you are on the road?
Not really. Generally after a record, those songs are still so new. Everything I could possibly want to get out and feel is already into those songs. I haven’t experienced anything or had anything to write about. Generally, I always write when I get home and I’m off the road.

McClain: Do you follow a certain songwriting process?
Not really. Generally, I’ll just come up with something on the guitar. We just see what sticks, then the lyrics will come later.

McClain: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
I think it was “Evaporated.” There was a whole batch of songs. There was a whole bunch of songs before the “Love EP” that were the very first, first songs. I have tons of demos of those. The simplest A-B-C songs. “Anything At All” and “Evaporated” were definitely in the very, very beginning.

McClain: Do you feel like your style evolves with each song you write?
Touring really helps that. There’s three of you, and there’s more things to feed off of. Especially when you are touring with another band and being on the road with them for an extended period of time. It’s sort of like when you’re hanging out with somebody and you start talking like them. Touring just helps me to evolve as an artist. My voice will start growing in different directions and the guitar playing will get really good. For me, I just feel like I am on a very natural progression and progress.

Brooke: When’s the next surfing trip? 
{Laughs}. Not for a while. After this show, we go to Houston, Austin, Dallas, and then I go to Hawaii with my mom for a surf trip. We (the band) just got to surf in Daytona Beach.

McClain: Do they surf too?
No, but my brother does. The first surf that we found, we rented a board. We were so excited to get in the water. My mom always goes every year to Hawaii for Mother’s Day. She usually goes with one of her best friends, but her best friend just passed away with cancer. She has no one to go with her, so we’re going to do a little mother-daughter trip.

McClain: Do you enjoy being on the road with your brother?
Yeah. We’ll start yelling at each other and calling each other names. I’ll be like, “You can’t just call me that because you’re my brother!” We’re really close, so it’s really good to have somebody that knows you that well. They keep you in check from time to time. It’s exciting for him to see everything happen this year. He sees it differently than I do.

Brooke: He mentioned that he was really excited to be a part of this record with you because he really thought this was your thing.
He sits back and observes. He’s just really good to go to whenever I’m feeling anything less than comfortable, because he is my brother.

McClain: It’s good to have someone to look out for you like that.

McClain: It’s exciting to see your record take off so quick. 18,000 in the first week, were you surprised by that?
I wanted to do 10,000 {Laughs}. Throughout the week of last week, it was “We are predicting 6,000, but 10,000 would be really cool.” Then we were approaching 13,000 to 14,000, then 15,000, then it was 17,000. I can’t believe this is happening right now. We thought we’d land, if we were lucky, 38 on the Billboard, so to do 27 is surreal.

McClain: Congratulations. That is really something else. 
You start seeing a change in the shows and the audience interaction. People, they get the record, and they starting knowing the songs.

Brooke: With Whitley this tour’s opening act), did your record label pair you guys up?
No, my manager met him when he opened for G. Love. My manager is G. Love’s manager as well. We were putting together this tour, and my manager played me some of his music. I was like “This is perfect.” Now, I want him for every tour. He is really, really talented, he has a beautiful voice, and he’s fun to be on the road with.

McClain: Do you have a favorite act to tour with? 
G. Love. He’s definitely the one I tour with the most. Ray Lamontagne was really amazing.

McClain: Ray is something else.
We did a whole month and a half with him. Every night, we’re just like, “Are we really on tour with you? We get to watch you every night!” That was probably my favorite tour to date.

For more information on Tristan, check out her website:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: