The first thing that grabs your attention is the band’s name. It seems to be a perfect, succinct description of the times. And the times call for loud, in-your-face agitators like Pretty Shitty. The quartet lines up tonight at White Swan as local support for Corrupted Youth’s Texas Destruction Tour.
The next thing you notice is the energy. There are two L.A. bands on tonight’s bill, but probably no one will be as Hollywood theatrical as Pretty Shitty’s vocalist, Moses. The one-named wonder is a performing spectacle, drawing the audience in with passion for the music that borderlines on mania.
“None of it is theatrics. I’m just trying to get my point across and sometimes you have to do a little more than just say it,” says Moses.
The third thing you notice is that you know this band. Sorta. Pretty Shitty has only been around for a year, but Moses and drummer Alex Marshall were once part of a Houston punk band called the Heroin Kids. That act arrived like a sudden star in 2013 and burned bright, hard and fast until it burned itself out. When Pretty Shitty launches into its set tonight at White Swan, it’ll be a bit of a full-circle moment.
“It’s where the Heroin Kids played their first show, and we are excited to be back. Navigation Boulevard, baby!” said Moses. He and Marshall are joined by bassist Kayla Shutts and guitarist Arthur Castro. The band formed last March and calls Austin home, physically if not spiritually.
“We are based in Austin now, although Houston is our home and always will be,” Moses explains. “The punk scene in Austin is cool; we’ve made a lot of good friends and have had a lot of good times, but nothing beats the Houston punk scene. We’re just moving around right now and we have a few more places to try out.”
The band “tried out” Walters a couple of times last year. We caught them at Punxmas in December and they stood out among a horde of bands on that bill. If you weren’t there, here’s how the band describes what it does live:
“A cross between a punk show and WCW,” Marshall says.
“The guys are covered in my old, cheap makeup and the stage is covered in Moses's puke,” Shutts offers.
“A lot of spilt beer,” is Moses’s assessment.
“Sluts and napkins,” says Castro.
We ask about the band name. Is it an indictment of modern America, in some way? Is it a rebuke against our government? Or is it a rant against our reliance on technology that we use and have used against us? Maybe it’s just a we-see-you acknowledgment of vain selfie-takers and people who won’t shut their damn mouths in the movie theater?
“We call ourselves Pretty Shitty so people can’t get pissed off when we suck,” Moses explains. Marshall chimes in with “You can judge a book by its cover.”
They do have takes on many of the aforementioned subjects.
“It’s hard not to be political when your president’s a douchebag,” Shutts says.
“I wouldn’t say we are a political band, but we do care about what’s going on around us. And I hope we can be an antidote to some people. I don’t strive for that, but we just put it out there; if you like it then you like it, and if you don’t, then you don’t,” Moses says, before adding, “Climate change is real, though.”
Pretty Shitty is busy finishing a demo. It’s playing a SXSW gig on March 15 with Bobby Blitz, Cheetah Chrome and Protex. With so much to look forward to, we ask about the past. What about the Heroin Kids?
“That was cool, we had fun," says Moses. "Probably won’t happen again, but we learned a lot. And I try not to carry too much of the Heroin Kids over to Pretty Shitty."
There’s clearly no need to; if you’ve caught the new act, then you already know this. Meet Pretty Shitty, a punk band whose influences include Talk Sick Brats, Daggerhead, Cop Warmth, George Strait, B-52s, The Cramps, Flipper, Gucci Mane and “not Smash Mouth, just the song ‘All Star.’” How could you not want to see how they stitch all that together live?
As we did watching the show, we had fun shooting the...well, you know, with Pretty Shitty. We couldn't resist asking a standard “Anything you wanna add?” wrap-up question.
“Shouts out to my momma,” Shutts shouted out.
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“Orale!” Castro exclaimed.
“Just know we love all y’all, cool kids suck, and everyone says they don’t fuck with Yachty but we fuck with Yachty,” said Moses.
“Please don’t laugh at us,” Marshall added. “We are really trying.”
Pretty Shitty performs tonight with Los Angeles’s Corrupted Youth and Dead 77, Corpus Christi’s Avenue Rockers and Houston’s own Los Gritos. White Swan Live, 4419 Navigation Boulevard. Doors open at 7 p.m.; $10.