Jonathan Pretus started The Breton Sound with Stephen Turner, followed by Jon’s brother Brian Pretus and their new drummer Joe Bourgeois. They produced their first EP, “Eudaemonia” in 2011, with their second EP “Maps” dropping in 2013. Currently working on their third album, the band will be touring the rest of summer.
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Read the interview highlights below, or listen to SCP Radio’s full-length podcast:
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Sean Richie: Coming from New Orleans with all of its history and tradition, describe the atmosphere and what do you love about it?
Jonathan Pretus: There are just so many great things about New Orleans that living in it, and being from here, I feel like are easy to take for granted. There’s just such a great culture that goes throughout different neighborhoods and different social groups — people from all walks of life come together. You can even run into people that you would never see most days and just strike up a conversation. I feel like things like that don’t just happen everywhere. It’s kinda of very specific to New Orleans and I really like that about it. The music and the food is absolutely amazing here. It’s just different from anywhere else you can go.
SR: I’ve never actually been to New Orleans but anytime anyone ever said anything about the city, it sounds so inviting and the whole atmosphere is just very friendly.
JP: It’s a very open city and nobody is a stranger which is a really cool way to live I think.
Photo courtesy | Phil Roeder
SR: Where would you recommend a first-time visitor to go out and see?
JP: There is just so much it’s hard to pin point exactly. I guess restaurants play a huge roll with the cultural diversity of food. You can go to a restaurant that could be up to one hundred dollars a person, somewhere like Commander’s Palace, or Emeril’s. On the flip side you can go to amazing places that are ten dollars a person like Franky and Johnny’s or [Johnny’s] Po-Boys. There are not really any bad restaurants in town.
There’s just so much to see, even if it’s just walking through neighborhoods in the Garden District, the French Quarter or the Warehouse District, just looking through all the architecture and different styles that all exist in the same “gumbo,” if you will.
SR: How does the French Quarter really differentiate from the rest of the city?
JP: Well, it’s a little different now then when it was originally conceived. Structurally, that’s where the city kind of started. All of the same buildings are still there and it’s rare to have new construction in that area. It’s kind of a little time capsule in a way. You may walk down the street and there are pizza and various other shops, but it’s in a 300-year-old building that’s survived a fire. It’s a residential area, but there’s such a hustle to it. It’s also laid back to a degree.
Photo courtesy | Jon Clegg
SR: That sounds absolutely captivating! So you have shows coming up July 23 in Lafayette, Louisiana and the tour ends in Marshall, Texas. Describe your excitement and are you looking forward to driving across the South and taking in the sites?
JP: Yes, absolutely! We have a lot more coming up out of the state that are not on the calendar yet. Honestly, I love driving around and I’ve always liked touring especially through the South, because the scenery is so nice. The cities are always a little different — each one has its own charm. One that stands out is Belmont, Texas. You drive into Belmont and it’s this quaint and quite city. Being from New Orleans, it’s just a different feeling. I just personally really love to travel.
SR: How does music and travel fit together?
JP: Well if you want to get your music out there you really have to travel. You have to bring it to different cities and different people. I have been fortunate enough to have done a good bit of traveling with music — falling in love with other cities and different cultures. You get to experience different vibes from different places, and those things kind of play into your music and what you do.
SR: A lot of artist have said they pull their inspiration from traveling. Being in transit gives you time to think and regroup. Can you say the same for yourself?
JP: It really depends sometimes. I don’t really get to write, and sometimes I can barley form a sentence on the road. A lot of it depends on what the travel schedule is. There is a lot of time where you can sit and study other things and collect ideas. I will write down small phrases I read or hear somewhere, but I don’t necessarily write too much on the road. I do find that I pick up on things during traveling that will make its way into my music.
SR: Out of all the cities you’ve preformed in are there any that stand out in terms of crowd atmosphere? Was it in line with the city’s nightlife?
JP: I definitely have favorite places to play in. Chicago was fun because the people there were just so nice and friendly. The city has a great energy to it. Every time we have played there the turn out has always been great. I also really enjoy playing in Texas, the people there always seem to have a lot of fun. I can’t really think of anywhere that we have gone either in this band, or previous bands, were people weren’t friendly or willing to have fun. I think, especially playing music, the people that do come out to see you are looking to have fun and when you give them a good time, you feel the love reciprocated.
Photo courtesy | Sean Davis
SR: Describe an amazing travel experience you’ve had. Where was it and what stood out?
JP: Musically the way we made our last record going to different studios around the South. We went to some of the places where our favorite music had been made. We spent a few days in Memphis and recorded at Arden Studios, which is where big stars, like ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin, have done there records — it’s just an amazing studio with great history. It was just an amazing experience. I found the area we were in made us feel more creative — very vibrant and fun. We walked away from it totally enamored with Memphis.
SR: When you plan a personal getaway are you more for a beach setting or an urban feel?
JP: I tend to go more urban myself. We are relatively close to beaches here — a couple hour ride. I also like to get out and do things as opposed to sitting around and soaking up the sun. I do enjoy the beach, but I’d rather explore a city that I have never been to. The first time we went to New York, we were staying in Time Square and had a day off. I walked outside, made a right and just kept waking. Three hours later I realized I was going to need a cab to get back.
SR: Lastly, if you could preform anywhere in the world, what setting would you choose?
JP: I’d really like to play the festivals in the [United Kingdom]. Those would be dream shows for me because the festivals are so big and so communal — such an intrinsic cultural experience. A lot of the bands I love have been at those festivals. Those are the kinds of shows I’ve really always wanted to do.
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For more on Pretus and The Breton Sound visit their website: