Tampa Bay, Florida has produced famous acts over the years from southern rockers The Outlaws to metal pioneers Obituary to teen-pop idol Aaron Carter. From boom in the 60s-80s to bust in the 90s-00s, the music scene has had its ups and downs but there has recently been a resurgence of music and we caught up with one local band to find out what it’s like.

Pretty Voices is a garage-rock quartet hailing from Tampa Bay. They recently released their album Jangular, a work that took several years to create. “We paid for our own recording, mixing, mastering, and production out of our pockets or from show pay and merch sales,” explains bassist Roger Peterson. “We are focused on getting back to recording and putting out another record.” The band has been performing around their area, honing new songs and getting them tight for production. “Live shows are my raison d’etre. Practice and sweat equity are the perfect excuse for an introvert to blow it out on gig night,” says vocalist Nick St. Hilaire. “Until the band says I’ve gone too far, I have to work a little harder to expand my comfort zone.”

Pretty Voices started in 2009 with members of two local bands forming the original lineup, rounded out by drummer Matt Grimshaw. Shows came later that year after a short period of writing and jamming. “Our name came about as an ironic nod to the band’s interesting vocal style and less than impressive abilities,” jokes Peterson. The members note that a highlight of the project is the comradery of musicianship. “The creative aspect of getting a group of guys together and creating original music is pretty cool,” says Peterson. “Making music with my friends is my favorite thing.” Guitarist Mike Whiteaker adds, “The sounds we make together and the good times…having some beers and making some noise!”

The band faces the classic challenges of indie artists these days. “The biggest challenge is getting attention in a crowded marketplace for independent music. It is still a business and you have to remember that when you are trying to book that hip new venue on a Saturday night,” says Peterson. “Our approach has been pretty low key. We have an online presence and try to move around the region with our shows.” Nick St. Hilaire adds, “You’ve heard of the 10 second elevator pitch in business? In music, I think you get like four seconds.” Heed those words, readers; in the era of social media, you get merely seconds to make an impression on new listeners and viewers.

Despite the challenges, the band pushes onward. They hope to release a follow-up album shortly and tour in support regionally. “We all have day jobs, so folks would be disappointed that Pretty Voices isn’t living the rock and roll fantasy life,” says Peterson. However, the as the Tampa Bay scene continues to evolve, more opportunity may await the band. Regardless, they plan to continue moving. “Playing music is a great artistic outlet and has always been a great diversion from work or stress,” says Peterson. “You take music that you created and go have this communal experience where you play it in public without knowing how people might react to it. It’s exciting and fun.” Their advice for other musicians is simple: “Learn to play for 5 people or 500 because you will surely play to both.” We couldn’t agree more and can’t wait to see where this band goes in the future. You can find Pretty Voices on iTunes, Spotify, and Facebook.

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Educated but self-effacing, opinionated but reticent, and unabashedly eccentric; Alex aka Squatch is the lead writer for Squatchful.com. A life-long musician, he founded the blog in the interest of helping independent artists gain exposure and to provide insight into navigating the creative arts industry.

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