When comedian Demetri Martin performs at the Pageant this Thursday, March 26, he'll finally have the chance to hang with his new best friends in Pretty Little Empire.
OK, so the St. Louis indie-rock quartet hasn't actually met the former Important Things with Demetri Martin host. In fact, its members are not even sure Martin knows they exist, despite sharing roles in bringing comedy film The Last Time You Had Fun to life recently and having director Mo Perkins as a connection in common.
But maybe all of that will change when PLE performs at the Halo Bar directly following Martin's standup show.
"That would be awesome if he came to see us play a song," PLE lead guitarist William Godfred tells RFT Music. "But we're absolutely not counting on that."
What Pretty Little Empire is counting on, however, is a continuation of the stripped-down style Godfred and vocalist/guitarist Justin Johnson have adopted as they've hit the film-festival circuit to promote the band's songs that are featured in The Last Time You Had Fun, which stars Martin and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Mary Elizabeth Ellis. Godfred and Johnson plan to perform the songs showcased in the film as well as other PLE gems in a quieter format as a duo instead of as the traditional full four-piece that includes bassist Wade Durbin and drummer Jason Potter.
"I think it will be a blast," Godfred says, noting that the band last performed at the Halo Bar after a Mumford & Sons concert a few years ago. "The Halo is a fun place to play. It's got a super small stage, so it will be much easier with just Justin and me up there."
Godfred and Johnson recently returned home from promoting The Last Time You Had Fun at the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi, where they had a chance to watch the movie for the first time with other festival-goers. Godfred, who says he isn't the band's primary songwriter but usually ends up with one song on each PLE album, penned "Patina," a slower tune that he says is featured in a poignant section of the film. After a long writing and recording process, the song went through some changes that elevated it, he says.
"It's probably one of my favorites that I've ever put on a PLE record," Godfred says. "When I originally wrote it, it was very stripped down, pretty much me and an acoustic guitar. But it turned into this very produced, orchestrated sound, which was not my intention but turned out really cool.
"But it's always going to be weird hearing your music over somebody else's art," he continues. "How I feel about it is going to be a different perspective than somebody else because when we mixed that record it was a long process, so I got really really close to a lot of the songs. But it's definitely cool in the credits seeing my name on the silver screen."
Godfred says that each of the four Pretty Little Empire members are film buffs who own and watch thousands of movies, so experiencing The Last Time You Had Fun with a large captive audience was a treat.
"I didn't know what to expect, though I had watched clips of it," Godfred says. "But when we were in the theater, it played so well in front of a sold-out crowd. People were laughing and seemed really engaged.
"I was actually engaged the whole time -- even where our songs were playing in the movie, I was still engaged. It was really awesome for that to happen," Godfred says.
Godfred and Johnson received a similar response when they performed for movie lovers throughout the festival. The two musicians initially were booked to play only a festival after-party on night one, but after wowing the crowd there, they were asked to perform before the Oxford Film Festival awards ceremony.
"People seemed to really respond to it, probably more so than we thought," Godfred shares. "And after we did that, someone who was there and liked it thought they could hook us up with another show."
That show ended up being in a bar with a handful of people who likely weren't expecting two St. Louis guys to pull out guitars, Godfred says.
"I don't think any of those people anticipated hearing any live music, so when we played, everybody was really shocked," Godfred laughs. "But they enjoyed it and were like, 'Where's the tip jar?' and trying to put money on the stage. It's nice when something unexpected happens and people end up liking it."
And now Godfred and his PLE pals are taking that good luck and applying it to new recordings at Native Sound Recording, where the group is laying down new tracks with producer David Beeman. Godfred says Pretty Little Empire is recording both a full-length studio album as well as a more low-key offering from just Johnson and him. But after the good fortune in Oxford, Godfred is embracing serendipity, no matter if Demetri Martin is involved or not.
"You just never know. If you skip opportunities like that, you never know what you could be missing out on," Godfred reflects. "It could be nothing, but then again we played in front of those eight people who really enjoyed it and bought records. It was totally strange and awesome."
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