With news dropping Tuesday that PRETTYMUCH will be accompanying Camila Cabello on her Romance Tour this summer, we felt it only right to give fans something to chew on in the meantime.
Below is an excerpted portion of our bespoke zine with the blossoming boy band, written by Megan Armstrong and photographed by Shea Flynn. This (and more) was originally published in June 2019.
The five members of PRETTYMUCH are crammed in a car en route to their art gallery event in Los Angeles on the same Friday evening they’ve announced the May 24 release date of their Phases EP, and this is the only time they could squeeze in a chat. So, as they’ve made a habit of doing since music’s fairy godfather Simon Cowell brought them together in 2016, we maximize a short amount of time.
“It was an idea that I had with the guys a while ago, and we always talked about wanting to do it since we have so many art pieces in the house that we’ve collected over the years,” Austin Porter says of the art gallery they are riding toward. “This felt like the perfect time to do it because this EP is all about us really owning the creative direction we are going in and representing our phases and growth. And I think the art really reflects that, so it just felt like the right time.”
Each member of the group painted at least one of the gallery’s pieces, which were auctioned off with all proceeds going to City of Hope, and the array of art illustrates the unique perspective each member brings to the collective. One of Austin’s contributions is titled “Music Man,” which can be seen in mid-creation throughout the 2018 music video “Hello,” and only took 15 minutes for him to bring to life. The hybrid human in the painting has a record player atop his shoulders instead of a proper head, which could easily be construed as a caricatured version of PRETTYMUCH as they continue to mastermind records streamed millions of times over.
Among PRETTYMUCH’s biggest bangers are “Summer on You,” “Solita” featuring Rich The Kid, “10,000 Hours,” “Teacher” and “Would You Mind.”
“Summer on You” was released last June and written for the band by Ed Sheeran.
“Would You Mind” was the debut single that set all of this into motion on July 21, 2017.
“Teacher” followed up their debut in September and set the foundation for their ability to discuss more complicated subject matter as the track is an ode to women’s empowerment.
“Phases,” the new EP’s title track and lead single released on April 26, immediately connected with fans as it was streamed over 4.6 million times on Spotify alone within three weeks. In a society that is increasingly addicted to instant gratification—in love, work, social media and, well, everything—it was refreshing to hear a song addressing patience from young men vulnerably expressing a mature willingness to wait for lasting love.
“The song actually came from a conversation I was having with my friend, and we were talking about feeling like you’ve met the person you’re meant to be with, but something about the timing or just life gets in the way,” Edwin Honoret explains, “and you feel like you need to keep living life and go through phases before you can really settle down.
“You hear it all the time that so many people end up marrying someone they met in high school, but it took them going off the college, moving, work, (and so on) to really feel ready to come back to that person.”
Yeah,” Brandon chimes, again, “I think it’s also just a message about being there for someone no matter what, and knowing that if it’s meant to be, it will work out in the end. You just have to give it time.”
The guys are constantly practicing being there for somebody no matter what. Since their formation three years ago, they have been mostly inseparable—living together in L.A. and traveling the world. Their bond is so strong that they have tattooed each other, literally. The video of Brandon and Nick inking their tic-tac-toe game on Edwin’s right thigh—Edwin will carry Nick’s victory around with him forever—was uploaded to their YouTube channel in early May. The session also included Austin tattooing a lightning bolt on Nick’s ankle, Zion Kuwonu giving Brandon a question mark, Edwin etching an equal sign on Zion’s finger after adding Peanuts character Woodstock to Austin’s hand.
They all have the same tattoo depicting 3.18.16 in Roman numerals, which may or may not have something to do with the birthday of PRETTYMUCH.
“We actually gave each other tattoos in the first few months of living together,” Nick Mara discloses. “I guess we always trusted each other from the start.”
“Yeah, it was kind of a group idea since we all really like tattoos but want them to have some meaning,” Edwin adds, “and this is such a big phase in our life that, no matter what, I will look back at these tattoos and be like, ‘Oh yeah, I remember when I did that with my brothers.’”
They have created a treasure trove of memories with each other and have no end in sight. Beginning July 11, the band will take off on the FOMO Tour across 23 North American cities. “Tour is dope because every tour we go on is bigger and bigger,” Zion notes. This headlining venture caps off a calendar year that saw them support on Grammy Award nominee Khalid’s Roxy Tour last summer before selling out their Funktion Tour last fall. Billboard also included PRETTYMUCH on its 2018 21 Under 21 list, and they were nominated for a 2018 iHeartRadio Music Award in the Best Boy Band category (they lost to worldbeaters BTS, which nobody can hold against them).
As PRETTYMUCH’s profile booms, they are making a concerted effort to make sure each individual’s growth isn’t stunted, as is traditionally often the case within boy bands (just ask Zayn). The comparisons to boy bands past are inevitable given the connection to Cowell, who is famously responsible for One Direction. Not to mention, PRETTYMUCH’s moniker for their fanbase is BEANZ, the word formed when using each member’s first initial in the same vein NSYNC crafted their name from using the last letter of every member’s first name.
However, in a 2017 Billboard YouTube video in which the band gave fans facts they should know about them, one user named Victory H. keenly observed in the comment section, “I really love how they’re all so different from each other. You don’t really get to see that in boy bands these days. And they’re all so different but so attractive in (their) own way. I’m shooketh.”
“I know I can speak for everyone on this,” Nick says, “but we all make sure to keep each other in check individually and as a group. We’ve lived together for so long that we know each other like family, so if we see anyone that might be going through something, we are always here for each other.”
“And I think we are all so different that we never really feel lost within the group because we know that what makes us different is also what makes us work better together,” Edwin concludes.