Local DIY trio creates grown-up pop songs using childhood toy

Evan Wolff and Larry TV employ a DIY, work-with-what-you-got ethic when it comes to their band, Pretty Pretty. While recording demos, that practical, utilitarian philosophy led them to the Muppet Babies.

It's a Muppet Babies keyboard, actually — a baby blue, 1987 Casio featuring a baby Kermit the Frog, star-shaped buttons and preset beats labeled “rock 1,” “rock 2,” “samba,” “bossa nova” and more. Instead of a drum machine, Pretty Pretty used the Muppet Babies keyboard to hold down the rhythm section on most of songs featured on the band's new cassette tape, Demos II, out soon on Superdreamer Records.

“My mom, I think, gave it to me. I've had it since I can remember,” said bassist Larry TV (born Hillary Jones) recently, seated next to Wolff and drummer Nick Schuld at an Italian Village coffee shop. “If you hold a note down too long, you can hear it drop [in pitch]. I told my mom we were using it, and she's like, ‘Oh, gosh! It still works!'”

The band didn't necessarily plan to follow its last batch of demos (2012's Demo) with another release of rough drafts, but friends of the band repeatedly expressed interest.

“People would say, ‘Oh, do you still have the demo? I actually really like that.' And we kinda like it, too,” TV said. “So we're putting a tape out with the demos and the keyboard. It wasn't intentional. It just kinda happened.”

Just because the eight songs were made with GarageBand and Muppet Babies doesn't mean they're throwaways, Wolff said. “It's not that those versions of the song are any less valid than if we recorded it a different way with a full band in a nicer place,” he said. “That's just one version of those songs.”

“If you're doing a painting, you might sketch it out or have something underneath the base of the sketch that you paint on top of,” TV explained. “Or you have your sketch on the side and the final result. It's the same project, but different.”

After recording a 7-inch for Pretty Pretty, Schuld began playing drums with the band (previous drummers include Jon Washington and Shane Natalie of Good Shade), and the trio will perform a cassette release show at Used Kids Records on Sunday, April 16.

As far as the inspiration for the songs, Larry TV doesn't like to give too much away. “I try to be a little ambiguous, because I like songs that are ambiguous: ‘Are they talking about a lover or a family member or a friend?'” she said. “It's pop music. I wanna like it, and I want other people to like it and relate to it. I want them to be like, ‘This is my song.'”