Whether they’re playing locally in Laredo, Texas or across the state in Austin, San Antonio or Corpus Christi, everyone asks the three high-energy rockers where they got their cool collective name Pretty Visitors.
“It’s actually a song from the Arctic Monkeys album Humbug,” says frontman and bassist Tony Shepherd. “We have such different tastes and bring a lot of different influences to the group, from Stone Temple Pilots to Kasabian, Muse, The Beatles, Radiohead, even Kanye West. But we bonded over the Arctic Monkeys.” Since launching in mid-2010, Carlos Rodriguez's blistering guitar, combined with Shepherd’s heartfelt lyrics and drummer Felipe Gutierrez’s explosive dance-party rhythms, have earned them comparisons to everyone from Smashing Pumpkins and Royal Blood to Weezer. Transcending the usual stylistic limits of traditional modern rock bands, Pretty Visitors blend exciting melodic sensibilities with the blistering vibe of contemporary alt-rock, fusing a variety of genres in their path.
Pretty Visitors got off to a blazing start, selected in its infancy as winner of the RMX Battle of the Bands. This resulted in an invite to perform before 50,000 people at the 2010 RMX 212 Festival in Guadalajara, Mexico—as the only American band on a bill of artists from all over the world. They started booking hip venues like Headhunters in Austin and The Raven Hookah Lounge in San Antonio and soon began writing songs together.
When Shepherd originally met Gutierrez, he was longtime frontman with a popular local band called Blind Reign. They were playing a gig with a brand new drummer who wasn’t cutting it. Gutierrez came up and said, “You guys are awesome, but you need a better drummer.” Shepherd laughed it off but took Gutierrez more seriously a few months later when the drummer came up to him again and said he would love to play with the band sometime. Blind Reign had a gig lined up out of town that their current drummer couldn’t make, so Gutierrez got his shot and had two days to get ready. He blew everyone away and a new musical partnership was born. Frustrated with the constant turnover in guitarists, Shepherd and Gutierrez soon decided to start a new group with a fresh sound. Gutierrez told him about Rodriguez, his old friend who shared their taste in music.
Ever the heartfelt lyricist, Shepherd infuses the infectious pop/rock driven first single “Down The Line” with an honest assessment of himself as a man about to be married. In the song, he evolves from the mentality of the bachelor who doesn’t want to change his ways to a mature man who accepts that being in the relationship will make him a better person – and that’s worth adjusting to. “Better Man” continues that emergence into adulthood theme, acknowledging that as he leaves his carefree days of youth behind, he will probably disappoint people but “I’m trying to live my life as well as I can.” The singer’s first attempt to write a true story song, the quirky, hypnotic mid tempo rocker “Francis Bucket Lost Her Head” has a fascinating origin. He had just gotten a new smart phone and while it was in his pocket, he “butt surfed” the internet and it locked onto a page in the San Francisco Chronicle with a headline that read “Francis Bucket Committed to Insane Asylum for Killing Children.” Shepherd explores the possible reasons for what she did and the way things from childhood can haunt people as adults.
“We love a variety of music and are not contained to one thing,” Shepherd says. “Our album truly represents the varied influences we have. As a group, we change our sound often, to a certain extent. One day we’ll feel like playing a straight-up rock song, the next we feel like quieting down and doing an acoustic track. We wear our influences on our sleeve, but always make sure it has a unique Pretty Visitors stamp on it.”