Things are about to ‘get weird’ with the release of PRETTY AWKWARD’s debut record. The eleven-track full-length features the first single, “Woozy,” released last month. It’s an infectious, singalong, radio-ready alt-pop track about being young and misguided. Youth is a central topic on this album, along with a slew of other subject matter, including recklessness, fun, boredom, and love in all its forms. The band members identify as “pretty awkward” themselves, which makes these songs very relatable to young fans. The songs tell the story of being awkward but with infectious grooves and humour along the way.
PRETTY AWKARD is spearheaded by singer and guitarist Austin Held and bassist/pianist Nicholas Wiggins. They go back a long time, having grown up together in the west end of Seattle. Both are fans of virtually all genres of music, which is responsible for Get Weird’s eclectic sound. They identify themselves as being “weird,” and they’ve learned to embrace it. It’s one of the central messages packaged within PRETTY AWKWARD’s songs. Get Weird is a reflection of the duo’s journey over the last couple of years. Diving deeper into the band and their songwriting became their mission, and the result is a very focused album.
Joining us today is Held for a special track-by-track rundown of Get Weird. The singer and guitarist dives deep into the origins and story behind the writing and recording of each song.
1. “HANG OUT”
“‘HANG OUT’ is a feel good summer time vibe about doing what you love with the people you love. From spacing out on the couch to running amuck through empty city streets. The focus is enjoying quality time with the ones you love.
“After hearing the guitar riff, the chorus came pretty easily and was based around the phrase ‘hang out.’ It definitely seemed like a song that was about doing what you love with the people you love right off the bat so we continued down that road one weekend in LA with the verses.”
“‘MISFITS’ is a song about being forever young and reckless. The magic in having dreams that feel so huge it almost seems unattainable, but knowing you’ll do whatever it takes to make them happen. A fun track filled with wonderfully nostalgic vibes. The song went through a couple of different versions before we landed on what ended up being the final product. When we initially wrote it, the music was written before the concept, but we knew that it had a very playful vibe.”
3. “GET WEIRD”
“‘GET WEIRD’ taps into another personality of PRETTY AWKWARD that is hyper focused on the strangeness of society and reality as a whole. The music Nicholas composed sounded so strange and tense that I (Austin) really wanted to tap into something different than I’ve explored in previous songs. It’s a little more aggressive and observant but also blunt.
“The music already sounded like a bad trip to me, so once I started down that road and I just kept going. When the phrase ‘Get Weird’ came about, it seemed like not only an obvious song titled, but that it should be the title track for the record. I feel like it encompasses our sound since it’s so diverse and we love exploring and getting weird with our art.”
4. “BAD HABIT”
“‘BAD HABIT’ is a song about meeting a kindred spirit in an unlikely place. When Nicholas wrote the base for what would be ‘BAD HABIT’ and once I heard it, I instantly saw the image of neon lights and driving through city streets at night. The lyrics seemed to have stumbled out of me accidentally, because it felt like I didn’t know what I was writing until I was done writing it. The songs just flows. I remember finishing it and coming back to it a couple of weeks later and absolutely loving how it turned out.”
5. “CASTLE WALLS”
“‘CASTLE WALLS’ pulls no punches and is about understanding that all of the obstacles and triumphs we face in all aspects of our life is a reflection of our internal state. It has a strong vibe meant to be listened to a full volume. This was the first out of three songs that Nicholas and I wrote with producer/songwriters Mark Jackson and Ian Brendon Scott.
“It was our first session with the team and I wanted to come prepared so I wrote the verse and the chorus bright and early at 6:30 am. Once we showed up to their studio and sat down to get to work, everything came together easily. We probably finished the song in about 6 hours. What we wrote that day is what you hear on the record and we’re proud of how it turned out.”
“‘HIGHER’ is a loud, high energy alt rock/dance vibe that explores topics such as the nature of consciousness and how to elevate oneself to a higher plane of existence. The first version of ‘HIGHER’ was written a few years ago. It’s been a long time coming for this song to be put out on a record.
“It was a funny and coincidental experience writing the song because I had written the lyrics without hearing the music that Nicholas had created. But once I did, I could tell they both fit perfectly. It’s one of our favourite songs because of how it’s evolved and how heavy and fun it is to play live.”
“‘WOOZY’ is a fun and silly toxic love story that asks the question, can anything good happen after 2 am? It’s loosely based on my personal experiences, but I really just wanted to write something goofy and fun. Once I had the idea to write a song with the word ‘woozy’ as its focus, it gelled quickly. I really liked the idea of exploring a character who has a wild night with someone they’re addicted to and can’t stop even though they know it’s awful for them.”
8. “LONG GONE”
“‘LONG GONE’ is about moving on physically and metaphorically from a situation or relationship that is no longer of service… Only to realize that maybe the other party hasn’t moved on so graciously. It was a fun song to write from a storytelling perceptive.
“Exploring what happens when our main character sees someone they once loved. Do they interact or does our main character put on the act that they’re blissfully independent, by never acknowledging the former lovers presence? It’s a song about moving on physically and metaphorically from a relationship that is no longer of service.”
“‘BORED’ explores the idea of what happens when one can become overly self-aware. Constantly being reminded of one’s flaws and how over analyzing oneself can make live a bit boring. The first thing that was written for the song was the chorus lyrics, which was an idea I jotted down in my notes probably a year or so before the rest of the music was written.
“In the summer of 2018 when we were writing the song, it originally had a completely different chorus, but it didn’t hit as hard as the verses, which I really loved. After scrolling through my notes app I came across this lyric idea I had written and it worked perfectly! It kept the song playful and fun, but dealing with a more serious topic about personal mental health.”
10. “DANGEROUS LOVE”
“‘DANGEROUS LOVE’ is focused on societys addiction with social status via social networks (likes, views, etc.), and our obsession with technology. The meaning fit together like a puzzle. The verse lyrics were entirely different and kind of random, they were more like place holder lyrics. When we decided to come at the song from a different approach, it really turned into the awesome story of how easily it is to be addicted to social media, and the ever evolving technology we interact with a on daily basis.”
“‘BURN’ does a wonderful job of completing the record by telling a story of metamorphosis though someone who will fight tooth and nail for a better life. Even if it means they have to burn everything they’ve built to the ground so that something better may rise from those ashes.
“We wrote the song in a cabin in the woods outside Seattle in January, 2021. I had ended a romantic relationship and was in a mood to vent. I was thinking about the chaos of relationships and how they can just end out of nowhere, no matter how good we may think they are for us. In the end, no matter how much we may get hurt in the process, we have something within us that no one can take and fighting to allow that light to shine, even if that means burning everything down and completely starting over.”