EXCLUSIVE: Jack Griffo Talks New Band The Pretty Grit, Nickelodeon and More

If you watched the show, The Thundermans, then you’re most likely familiar with the lead actor from the show, Jack Griffo. Since his success on the show, Griffo went onto be a recurring role on the Netflix show, Alexa & Katie. Since the show ending, Griffo has taken time to focus on another love of his, music. Griffo has been into music since a young age and now he’s the lead singer of a new band, The Pretty Grit. We chatted with Griffo about his band and much more!

Photo Credit: Will Heffernan

You’re in a band called The Pretty Grit, how did you guys meet? 

So, it’s actually a really cool story, I was a fan of them before, so we have six people in our band and three of them were in a band previously, that, was led by my buddy Dallas. He used to sing for them and I would go over to their house and watch them practice. I would just be really into their sounds, like pumping them up and saying stuff like “you guys sound amazing.” 

Eventually, their thing with Dallas kind of fizzled out. Then we just started playing together and that’s kind of just how it happened.

At first it was, Matrice and Kyle, just a guitar and drums, the three of us, and we quickly pretty much added Noel on the saxophone and then Gus, and then after that we added Blake and Simon on keys and bass, and then we had a full six piece. 

What did that feel like to you guys like being in the recording studio together for the first time?

Yeah, it was unbelievable. I mean, we were talking about yesterday, how, how great it is to be in a group and how being a solo artist, you know, has its perks. But, I feel like it has its pitfalls as well. I mean, you’re alone pretty much.

And you have a band, but it’s like, it’s not like your best friends. You know what I mean? Like this is like family best friends. So, we really see our future just being together, touring and just writing music and recording music and it was the best feeling ever, man. It was really, really cool.

It’s finally at the end of the day, you know, we got there at noon and we ended at nine. At the end of the day, we played a track that was loud as fuck. I was just like dancing around because it was so crazy to like, hear yourself. And like, I’ve heard myself before, you know, but I haven’t heard myself like that.

I mean like a track, like a professional sort of record with the band, you know? And I realized it’s just like, we’re playing the song in the car on the way home with Noah. One of my band mates, we were just like, that’s us. Like, it’s crazy. We started as a live band and a lot of artists start recording music and then translate to live. So, we were the opposite. We started as a live band, and then we translated to recording. It’s a beast to sort of, you have that live set down, you have a live sound down, but it’s kind of a beast to translate that to a recording studio on a track, you know, we’ve dabbled a little bit at our home rigs.

You know what I mean? Our own sort of set ups, but, it didn’t compare it to what we were able to do with the actual recording studio yesterday. It was, like I said, super exciting to know that we can work fast, you know, we can get an album done this year, you know? 

Photo Credit: Will Heffernan

Do you find that since you started as a live band, is that kind of, like, is it easier to record in the studio after performing live already? Or do you think it would have been easier to start in the recording studio? 

I think it lends itself to being, a very organic act, that’s why I like it a lot because

it’s almost like when you start in the recording studio, it can change a lot because it’s not a solid thing yet. And a producer kind of sees an opportunity to really kind of, mold you in their sort of direction. Whereas we already had our sound kind of down live, so he, the producer just was able to hear us. And he sort of just wanted to take it up and enhance what we already had instead of making it a new thing. You know what I mean? So, it was really great starting as a live band because we already had so much integrity and the sound that, you know, it’s us, you know, when we listened to it in the car, it’s just our band.

That’s what we wanted. You know what I mean? We didn’t want to get a product that sounds produced or that sounds not like us. What this guy, Michael Blue, wanted to do from the start. You know, we went in and played for him like a month ago. He was like, you know, he said all the best things. But, we didn’t know him very well yet. You know, he said that he really hears our sound. He wants to just enhance it and just direct us in the right way, kind of like our band coach, if that makes sense. It’s like he is kind of the first sort of chess piece in our band that we are letting him guide us.

We’ve been on our own for a year writing music, focusing on our live sound, and this first person was really important to me, whether it was a producer or a manager, whatever they are, and he happens to be a producer. And I just really wanted this first person to be as psyched about our music and our sound as we are.

And I really feel that with this, uh, this guy, Michael blue he’s he’s great. And he’s also worked with OneRepublic, Jason Maraz, Colbie Caillat, he’s got some great credits. I haven’t really been this excited about life since I started the Thundermans on Nickelodeon seriously, though, that feeling of getting the role.

When I was 16 years old, getting the role before even going to set, that’s level of like, whatever I feel right now, it’s almost like I just got the role that’s how I felt with the band. 

What was your first love? Acting or Music?

Yeah. I mean, you know, when I was a kid, those two were kind of one of the same, because I did a lot of musical theater, not a ton, but I liked musical theater. I wasn’t in like too many productions, probably did four or five shows, but, I loved acting and singing, you know what I mean?

And the musical theater aspect was both of them together. So, but as like for main focuses, I’d say acting was probably first. When I moved out to LA, there was like three years before I got The Thundermansrole. So, in those three years, I was doing music because I loved it, but sort of just as like a hobby, I was posting like a YouTube covers and stuff like that, but I was really wanting to be an actor.

I was going to acting class, so I was going to audition all the time and it took three years. And then I booked The Thundermansand took some time off of music for a while because I was so happy to finally do what I wanted to do when I came out here, you know, acting. And then that lasted, almost five years and pretty much right when that ended, I was able to channel my energy into music.

You know, I had been fiddling with, you know, song writing the last year of The Thundermans, probably when I was about 20. It just started, the ball, just started rolling and, the show ended in 2018. I really started writing that year, you know, just my songs. And then 2019 came around. I was honing in on that, you know, it was writing better songs and coming up with new ideas, still doing acting auditions, maybe a movie, here and there a show.

Photo Credit: Will Heffernan

Out of all the songs you have written as a band, what is your favorite to perform live?

In our set right now, probably the first song we ever wrote together, called “Birds.” And it’s a super personal song. I wasn’t even going to get into this, but since you ask in 2019, when the bands thing fizzled out with the other front man, I was going through something with my family that was really tough.

And I’ve known my whole life that. You have to channel that stuff and express it or else it’s gonna really bottle up inside, you know, and it’s gonna be bad for you at the end of the day. So, I was going through this thing and the guitar player and I had been talking about jamming, you know, probably like done it a couple of times, just hanging out, not really having a session.

And I was going through this thing and I just needed to, I needed to get it out. Like I just needed to express it and I’ll remember it forever because it was what. pretty great. And the pretty grit, it’s cool name. And it’s kind of like, you know, it’s kind of like an expression to me, like, Oh, “that’s pretty grit.”

Like it’s like kind of like gets kind of grit. It’s pretty good. Like pretty gritty, but, it’s also about flipping your circumstances, kind of like Juice Wrld’s whole thing. His whole thing was six, nine, nine, nine, flipping the sixes around on its head. It’s making something really in your life pretty, you know, and that’s kind of like my message to people is that I’m hoping that my music, art can inspire people to like, take another look at their life, you know, and go outside and like, cause, God is really like all around us.

You know what I mean? Like it’s in the air, like it’s in the sky that gets in the ocean and it’s like, there are some really shitty, great things that happen, but there’s so much beauty in the world. That, when you go through this stuff, you just have to make the best out of it. And so that’s what happened with “Birds.”

Were there any other band names when in that process of picking a name for the band? 

We were deciding between The Pulp and The Pretty Grit and ended up with The Pretty Grit. 

I love going to shows. I love live music. I love artists who believe in what they’re saying. And you feel that when you’re at a show and it’s because they are fully like aware they’re onboard with their message. And I was just explaining to the guys, look, I’m going to be the one talking to the audience most of the time.

And I was just explaining that same concept of like, when I’ve been in crowds, And artists have kind of like stopped sorta like in between songs and just stop the music and just kind of like talk to the audience and just kind of like spoke truth or, you know, shed light on certain things that’s happening in the world, you know?

And that’s only because they’re so secure and comfortable. With who they are as an artist and what their message is, that they can just go off on a tangent. And I’ve just been in that audience where you’re just like, fuck. Yeah. Like this guy knows what he’s talking about. And that’s what I was explaining to them.

I was like, The Pretty Grit I can get behind. How has explained to you, like what it’s about? It’s about showing people the positive and making people take a second, look at their circumstances. Cause life can be shitty. Like sometimes you just get a shit hand, you know what I mean? In certain areas, but music specifically is so transient in its nature and the communication there is it’s all love.

Photo Credit: Will Heffernan

You have a lot of songs in the books it sounds like, what’s your writing process?

You know, it’s like, we’re busy, you know, it’s awesome. It’s really, really cool. I had to go through all my voice memos the past couple years since I really started songwriting and kind of iron out what we were going to use.

Sort of right next. So, the way it works with the band is sometimes I’ll bring a song to the band. That’s almost already a song or we’ll make it in the room organically with everyone. Or another person in the band will bring a song to the band. So, the processes is varied for sure.

Birds was something that we all collaborated on. For example, it was something that I had already brought to the band and “You Get Me High” with something that we all made together as well. So, it just different each time. 

Who are some of your like musical inspirations? 

Yeah. I grew up with older brothers, like not much older brothers, nineties. Alternative grunge rock as in Nirvana, Incubus, one of my favorites, it’s not really nineties, but they’re early two thousands.

That’s kind of was like my, vibe early two thousands because I was born in 96, but I had those, those records and music playing in the house. So, at that young age, I was kind of absorbing that at a rapid pace. So, I feel like that’s where a lot of my influence sorta comes from, but I’m also very influenced in pop, and even hip hop.

Photo Credit: Will Heffernan

If you could set up a fan in a setting for them to listen to your music, what setting would that be?

I’m really excited to play the Roxy in Hollywood. I love the Roxy. I’ve been going there since I was 17. It’s just close to my heart. I went there as a child, like before you’re even supposed to go. That was just the funniest time and there’s a club above. Yeah, it’s called on the rocks.

There’s a little door to the side of the theater and the stairway leads upstairs. That’s where I’ve really been going since I was in the club, I’ve been to shows at the venue too but most of the time that I spent there, was at the club above the Roxy and I’ve just had great nights there.

My 20th birthday, it was spent there, other birthdays as well for friends. Then the theater downstairs is just like, I feel like it’s just so fun. I saw some madly influential shows there. Also, The Fonda bigger venue than the Roxy, I love the rooftop.

I mean, like I said earlier, just like shows and concerts and live music is like my favorite thing to do. Like festivals are like my favorite things to do. 

Do you find that you’re acting like benefits how you perform and how you do music in a way?

This is a great question. Yeah, so, they both affect the other, right. What I’ve realized is when I was thinking about pulling out of acting, like I just mentioned, I did it because I got that award and it was something that I just felt like it was a sign to not, to not do quit.

And I had a Frank conversation with my reps. I was going to talk with them and mention my thoughts of I’m quitting acting. It was just a conversation that kind of went like, I had so much going on right now in music. I have some amazing opportunities happening with the shows with the recording, this and that.

And I just told them that I was going to be more selective about what I had auditioned for. I found that when I, once I had that conversation with them, they were totally receptive to it. They were like, Oh great. That’s fine. And I found that once I had that conversation with them, my whole life got better.

You know what I mean? Like for a long time I was doing auditions that I didn’t want to do. You know, just for the idea of like, Oh, this is what I should do. They want me to audition like, Oh, it’d be a paycheck. Like I should do this. It makes sense. But it’s like, Ever since I had that conversation with them with like, look like I’m doing this, I’m going to say no to some things, because I just don’t have time.

I’ve been so much happier. And I’ve found that my music benefits, like your question. It’s like when I’m not oppressing myself in one side of life, like the acting my other side of life, my music flourishes, you know what I mean? And it makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense, but I didn’t realize that all this time that I had spent kind of dragging my feet, doing certain things in the acting world was affecting my personal life.

You know what I mean? In the sense my personal life was my songwriting and now since I’ve had this conversation and it’s only been two months, since I had this conversation with my reps and I just feel so good about it, like I’ve gotten some really great auditions too, that I’ve done, and I put down for some really great tape that I was proud of.

I still have time for what is most important to me right now and that’s music. Yeah, I feel like a lot of people. Well, they go through life, like at the beginning of the part of those stages that they think they have to say yes to everything. But I think once you you realize you can say no on to certain things, you start to feel much happier and freer mentally. 

Photo Credit: Will Heffernan

What’s one quote that you’ve heard in life that you’d want to ECHO out the world? 

My friend once to told me, it’s not about what you gather, it’s about what you scattered. It hit me, that one’s stuck with me because I’m about to move into a small little guest house and I just really wanted to downsize.

I wanted to get rid of shit. You know, being here for a decade and, you know, being somewhat, known, people send you stuff and material. It’s just so surface. That quote that I’m saying, it’s not a, what you’ve gathered is when you scatter it, it stuck with me because I love, I have loved having stuff, just filling my life with stuff that is really not the real material that you need, you need stuff with substance, you know what I mean? Like when you’re on your death bed, like you’re not going to be thinking about like, I wish I had gotten those new Yeezys or like, Oh, like I wish I got iPhone 12, you know, it’s going to be no, like, I wish. I spent more time with the people that I love. I wish I did those trips. You know what I mean? I wish I had invested in myself. Because that’s really, you know what you’re doing and it’s what you think you’re doing when you’re gathering things. You think you’re investing in yourself, I’m going to get this camera, let me get this laptop and oh this will be really cool on my shelf. Oh, the KCA awards, like, Oh, let me, let me show off.  It’s like, it’s all meaningless. And what really, really matters is relationships and love. That’s why I bring it up. It’s not about what you gathered.

It’s about what you scatter it’s about scattering, your, mark, your love, you know, and that’s really the only thing that will save the world. And in my opinion, now we’re getting super fucking philosophical. All you need is love. 

Follow along with The Pretty Grit on social media to stay tuned when they release music and announce shows!

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