Band: Paid to Pretend, Goodwin Rainer, Keep Flying
Date: Sunday, June 9, at 9 p.m.
Venue: The Attic at The Blind Mule, 57 N. Claiborne St., theblindmule.net
Tickets: $5 at the door ($10 for those under 21)
The MOB Music Fest will spend the second weekend of July showcasing some of the area’s most promising up-and-coming music acts. Before this young festival erects its stages, local band Paid to Pretend will be giving the public an advanced preview of their second appearance at the MOB Music Fest.
Paid to Pretend is no stranger to local festivals. Two years ago, this five-piece turned heads at the SouthSounds Music Festival during the Lagniappe Mobile Bay Showcase. They followed this appearance with a memorable set opening for The Underhill Family Orchestra at the inaugural MOB Music Fest.
All the while, Paid to Pretend’s audiences have fallen in love with the band’s lighthearted indie pop arrangements perfectly blended with lead singer Madison Bolt’s powerful, trademark vocals, which maintains a slight level of soul. The band’s sound is fresh not only in the local scene but also the indie world. As far as a musical category, Paid to Pretend is satisfied to let the masses define the band’s sound.
“I don’t know necessarily that we have a particular anything,” Bolt said. “My voice is in its own strange category. Then, to be put on top of this beach rock/indie whatever …. it is strange on its own. We like for other people to tell us what we are or what we sound like. We may agree or disagree, but we love it nonetheless. We like being in our own corner and having a sound that doesn’t sound particularly like anything at all.”
Paid to Pretend began to take shape in early 2017. Guitarists Michael Beatty and Matt Howl had just parted ways with a band. The two decided they wanted to put together a project that sounded different from anything they had experienced. As they began to formulate this new project, Facebook led Beatty to Madison Bolt.
“Me and Madison starting talking, and I liked the way she sang,” Beatty explained. “We asked her to come over, and we jammed at my parents’ house. Then, we started writing music together as a hobby. It turned into a full band when Jacob (bassist Jacob Cox) and Trey (drummer Trey Nobles) got in the band.”
Before Paid to Pretend, Bolt admits that she had no previous experience performing live on stage or with a band. Until she crossed paths with Beatty and Howl, she says that her musical experience consisted of releasing videos on Facebook performing cover tunes. At first, her lack of real-world music experience coupled with her being older than the rest of the band made things “nerve-wracking.” She also did not know if the rest of the band would like her vocal style coupled with the arrangements. However, the band’s creative chemistry took shape and Paid to Pretend’s sound was born.
“We had totally different tastes in music,” Bolt added. “After a while, we figured out that we had a sound that we had never heard before, and we were sure that other people hadn’t heard before. We were really excited. The first couple of times, we just played the same song over and over again, because that’s all we had, but we were excited to get out there and show everybody what we had.”
The group also established a collaborative songwriting technique that includes all of the band members. Beatty says that Bolt might have a melody, or he and/or Howl might have “some cool guitar stuff going on.” He adds that sometimes it may be a bassline from Cox or a drumbeat from Nobles. Bolt says that another method of songwriting begins with her sifting through guitar parts provided by Beatty and Howl. As she listens to these guitar tracks, Bolt says that melodies start to appear in her mind. Afterwards, she listens to the parts over and over again until her lyrics are finished. Once the foundation of the song is finished, Paid to Pretend begins adding sonic texture and dynamics. The final stage of the creative process is road-testing the song in the live environment.
Paid to Pretend’s first offering is “The Side Effects of Happy Pills.” The complexity of this album is found through its contrasting nature combined with the band’s figurative concept of “happy pills.”
According to Bolt, the concept of happy pills are not of the prescriptive nature. For her, happy pills could be something that is emotionally satisfying but with a negative consequence. She says that happy pills could be anything from alcohol to love. This concept is accented by the album’s musical persona.
Through this EP, Paid to Pretend fills each track with generally bright, upbeat instrumental work with contrasting lyrics. Bolt says that her lyrics focus on missed opportunities for love, whether it be from her perspective or others. For example, “Pretty Drinks” tells the story of an intoxicated bar patron who is in love with a bartender, who is clearly not interested.
Howl says the bittersweet aspect of the album especially rings true in the track “Closing In.”
“It’s supposed to build up like a happy song but with dark, twisted lyrics,” Howl said.
“It’s about depression,” added Bolt. “It’s probably our fastest song, but it’s really sad when you break it down.”
Paid to Pretend is filled with creative momentum. Currently the group is writing songs for a full-length album and performing new material in the live setting. As far as what can be expected from the upcoming album, Bolt says that the band is making an effort to add more complexity and versatility to create “a more mature version of Paid to Pretend.” The band does not mind taking their time to make sure all aspects of the album and its release are in place.
“With the way that the EP went, we don’t want to get out there and say, ‘We’re gonna have an album soon,’ then a year goes by, and we’ve made a fool of ourselves,” Bolt said. “We want to make sure that we have it all and have pre-recordings to listen to and try to make the most of, then go back in and record all of it.”
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