It does not bother the members of PrettyMuch when people call them a boy band: Brandon Arreaga, Edwin Honoret, Nick Mara, Austin Porter and Zion Kuwonu embrace their place in history. That’s because they haven’t had to check their individual identities at the door. Where Zayn had to leave One Direction before he was allowed to keep a beard or dye his hair, Honoret’s hair color changes from lava red to bright blue at any given moment. Arreaga, the group’s principal producer, regularly paints his nails. Porter is a new father. Kuwonu is a dreadlocked daredevil. Mara is an accomplished dancer. All the dealbreakers of boy bands past are prerequisites to be in PrettyMuch.
For a time, the future of PrettyMuch was uncertain. Simon Cowell brought the group together in 2016, and they debuted in 2017 with “Would You Mind,” which landed on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 Airplay chart. But the group felt their music being pushed towards stock archetypes under Cowell’s Syco Music, and the dissolution of the label in September left them in limbo (Cowell departed earlier that July). After a year without a record deal, they finally have a new, supportive home at Sire Records, and they’re working towards a debut studio album.
In the meantime, a three-track EP, Smackables, is released today, with three more songs to follow soon. Reflecting on the last year, Arreaga says “We had to go back to basics. We had to reflect. Like, Wow, I can’t believe we did that. But also, I can’t believe what we’re about to do. How do we get there?” Austin Porter hopes PrettyMuch will be remembered for taking “the original idea of a boy band, flipping it on its head, and now that’s the new common idea of boy bands because they created a new lane.”
To that end, freed from the constraints of Cowell, the band is writing songs like Arreaga’s “Corpus Christi,” about a fictional affair in his native Texas, which will appear on the deluxe version of Smackables. When Arreaga played the song for his father, he learned his great-grandfather was having an affair with a married woman in Mexico, and once her husband found out, Arreaga’s great-grandfather was on the first flight out of Mexico. “That’s literally how my family came to America,” Arreaga says, grinning in disbelief. “He landed in Corpus Christi.”
The band caught up with GQ to pull the curtain all the way back for die-hard BEANZ (one boy band staple PrettyMuch is not above is having a nickname for their fan base) as well as first-time listeners.
GQ: Your individual personalities and tastes have never gotten lost in the shuffle. How are you trying to redefine the boy band label?
Nick Mara: It’s funny that you say that because we were just talking about this. With boy bands or girl bands, I feel like they have a timeframe, and then once that fizzles out, people are like, “On to the next one.” We took a step back to really adjust to what we actually want to do. Once we did that, we were like, “Hey, we’re still here. We’re back stronger than ever.” Whatever cliche you think is gonna happen, we’re probably gonna do the opposite.
Edwin Honoret: There’s rock bands and alternative bands, and those bands always seem to go forward and be together until they’re God knows how old. I think the reason behind that is because they established a friendship at a young point where music was important first, and it wasn’t about becoming famous. It wasn’t about clout chasing. In the beginning, it was hard because how do you balance that—being young and trying to make it but also trying to stay true? The one thing that we just held onto was that we respect each other, we live with each other, we love each other, and we’re brothers. We’re not all the same person. There’s gonna be times where there are ups and downs.
Nick: It’s easy to say we’re friends and we’re cool when you’re on the up, but when you take a little downturn and face some struggles, that’s the hardest part. That’s when the true character shows out. And I feel like since we got through the struggles, sky’s the limit.
Why did you lead the new EP with “Stars”?
Nick: It showcases the change in us completely, from start to finish.
Edwin: Before it was let’s make sure that the girls love us first, and then everybody else can trickle in. Now, we don’t really have that limitation. We just want to make music that whoever loves it, loves it. But the thing with “Stars” is it’s a good intro, so we can still pay homage to that female audience that has gotten us to where we are now.
Zion Kuwonu: We’re not trying to find a song to break us anymore.
Nick: Yeah—not that it was intentional, but we still fit in this whole boy band playful frame, but now it’s just us being us and speaking our truth. Actually being ourselves. Talking about the things that we go through, being relatable. We go outside one day, we go out for a drink, we’re talking about this rather than shying away because it’s not really what’s for us. We’re trying to make our own brand rather than fall in line.
Each of these new songs share a thread of placing the woman in the driver’s seat. What has being in a famous band since 2016 taught you about masculinity?
Zion: It taught us about toxic masculinity. Keep that away.
Brandon: We think women are awesome. We are always finding ways to gas them up and, like you said, put them in the driver’s seat. Especially with songs like “Corpus Christi.” A girl can be just as hard and tough as us boys can be.
Zion: It shouldn’t be one-sided.
Austin, you became a dad with the birth of your son, Theo. How has that reshaped the way that you think about legacy?
Austin Porter: Ooh, legacy. I love that word. Growing up, my dad always told me stories about his life and what he learned so that I didn’t have to go through the same struggle to learn that lesson. The idea that, at some point, I’ll be able to start sharing my stories with him and can watch him learn those lessons, that exciting feeling of watching him grow and knowing that I’m gonna grow and learn with him as well, it’s amazing. There’s nothing like it.
One thing all artists have in common, if they’re lucky, is this transition from making music that will get you noticed and playing the game into finally earning the ability to make the music you truly want to make.
Edwin: The biggest struggle was we were working our asses off behind the scenes, and that part wasn’t getting acknowledged enough. There was just a lot of creative difference. We knew that we were dope individually and as a group, and it was just hard because that doubt started creeping in, too: are we actually as dope as we think we are? I always say that I hated that, but I loved it because it forced us to get better at our craft. The songs that we didn’t know whether they’d work out ended up being the songs that were released because we never gave up on those. The people that see us now as the band that we are, they care about that. Even if we think of an idea that’s super left field, they’re willing to take that risk as well. We’ll toss it up into the air, and they’ll say, “Hey, that’s different. Let’s figure that out.” Before, there was a lot of shutting down.
Brandon: There were so many moments where we were unsure of how free we were gonna be out of our last [label]. The doubts setting in. Is another label gonna be just as excited to pick us up and to invest their time and energy into us? The biggest thing is reminding ourselves that this is a new chapter, that we’re finally able to do the things we want to do and express ourselves more truly and from a realer place. Before, it was more adopting this identity. We owned everything that we’ve done, but to have it start from a realer place and then own it, is so different. Honestly, it’s like picking up a new skill. You have to exercise it. We had to take this last year to get good at committing to something that we started from scratch.
“Free” and “Lonely” are emotionally vulnerable ballads. What life experiences went into them?
Edwin: For “Free” specifically, I think we all have our own version of it, but being “famous” or being in this entertainment industry, love is hard. Like, sometimes I want to go out and I want to party, just so I can have content to write about. I want to live life. There’s gonna be times where you have to be willing to put yourself through a struggle just so you have something to write about.
Brandon: I feel like there are a lot of breakup songs that are more savage. But this is a breakup song about, like, this is what’s for the best. One of the things we were talking about the whole time we were writing about is the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ sentiment. It hurts me to know that I’m hurting you, but I’m letting you live your life and not holding you back from things you’re probably gonna love more. The life that’s ahead of you.
I can’t not ask this: what in the world does Smackables mean?
Zion: Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything. How do you feel when you hear Smackables? When someone says, “Yo, that shit was smackable,” what do you feel?
Brandon: It’s like an abstract painting: “What do you feel?” I wish we had a crazy, crazy explanation behind it.
Zion: You ever had a Lunchable? If you’ve ever had a Lunchable, that shit’s smackable.
Edwin: What happened was the song was being made, and Brandon asked me what he should name the session. Going back to what Zion’s saying, the whole feeling thing, I felt smackable. I just said that word. It came out of nowhere. What I felt was that shit was smacking, and it’s so good that I want to eat it. So, Smackables.
Originally Appeared on GQ
The boy band — originally comprising Mara, Brandon Arreaga, Zion Kuwonu, Austin Porter, and Edwin Honoret — thanked their fans for sticking with them over the last six and a half years, and shared the first taste of the new PrettyMuch with the release of a song titled “H2L.”How did PrettyMuch get their name? ›
Brandon: Michael Jackson, if he was still here. Where did the group name come from? It came from an inside joke from Zion. He had this voice he used to do with his friends and one of the words he kept saying was pretty much, it just stuck with us, PRETTYMUCH.What label is PrettyMuch under? ›
PRETTYMUCHDid Simon Cowell create PrettyMuch? ›
The group, originally formed by Simon Cowell, is embracing maturity with their new music. It does not bother the members of PrettyMuch when people call them a boy band: Brandon Arreaga, Edwin Honoret, Nick Mara, Austin Porter and Zion Kuwonu embrace their place in history.Who is the leader in PrettyMuch? ›
PRETTYMUCHHow old are the boys in PrettyMuch? ›
The band features Austin Porter (19), Brandon Arreaga (17), Edwin Honoret (18), Nick Mara (19) and Zion Kuwonu (18); four from the US and one from Canada.How old is Zion from PrettyMuch? › How old is Brandon from PrettyMuch? › What race is Zion from PrettyMuch? ›
|Full name||Caleb Zion Kuwonu|
On March 10, 2020, PrettyMuch was announced as an opening act for select US dates of Camila Cabello's The Romance Tour, but the tour was later cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It was always a mutual agreement," Porter clarifies about leaving the PRETTYMUCH home. "I didn't want to keep them up all night with the kid. That's not fair to them. And that also changes every aspect of their lifestyle, which they didn't ask for.Where is the band PrettyMuch from? ›
PrettyMuch (stylized in all caps), is an American-Canadian boy band based in Los Angeles, California. The group consists of Brandon Arreaga, Edwin Honoret, Austin Porter, and Zion Kuwonu. They were scouted individually by Simon Cowell, and formed in 2016.Who left PrettyMuch? ›
Nick Mara from PRETTYMUCH announced he'll be breaking from the group to “take on new endeavors as an individual.” The group released a statement Friday (Oct. 7) saying goodbye to Mara, but assuring fans that they'll continue to make music with four members.Did Nick leave PrettyMuch? ›
PrettyMuch, formed in 2016 by Simon Cowell, said Nick Mara's exit came about after "some very difficult conversations as a band" PrettyMuch is changing its lineup. The boy band is saying goodbye to founding member Nick Mara after "some very difficult conversations as a band," they announced Friday via social media.Who is the youngest in PrettyMuch? ›
And the youngest is Brandon Arreaga, a bespectacled 17-year-old from Corinth, Texas, who's also a talented producer.How old is Austin from Prettymuch? › How many members are in Prettymuch? ›
The five-piece boyband first stepped onto the music scene in 2017 after they were formed by Simon Cowell one year prior. Since then, members Nick, Brandon Arreaga, Edwin Honoret, Zion Kuwonu and Austin Porter have stolen the hearts of their listeners, who are eager to hear new music.How old is Edwin Honoret? › What is Zion from PrettyMuch real name? ›
Caleb Zion Kuwonu (born June 29, 1999) is a Canadian singer. He is part of the boy band PrettyMuch with Nick Mara, Brandon Arreaga, Austin Porter, and Edwin Honoret.Does PrettyMuch have an album? ›
Austin Porter is 1.78 m tall and weighs 63 kg.What date did PrettyMuch form? › What is Zion Kuwonu birthday? › How tall is Maggie Lindemann? › How old is Maggie Lindemann? › Who is Ansley Mitchell baby daddy? ›
Austin Porter is a dad!! The 22-year-old member of the band PRETTYMUCH has welcomed his first child, Theodore Hudson William Porter, into the world with longtime love Ansley Mitchell. Some of Austin's bandmates reacted to the news in the comments of his post.Does PrettyMuch write their own songs? ›
While talking all things “Phases,” the talented five-some got real about writing their biggest hits, and revealed that they hardly ever write all together as a group, but prefer to split off into two-somes and three-somes. And this is why…Does Austin Porter have a kid? › Why was PrettyMuch Cancelled? ›
On March 10, 2020, PrettyMuch was announced as an opening act for select US dates of Camila Cabello's The Romance Tour, but the tour was later cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.How old is Brandon from PrettyMuch? › Who is the youngest in PrettyMuch? ›
And the youngest is Brandon Arreaga, a bespectacled 17-year-old from Corinth, Texas, who's also a talented producer.Did Austin leave PrettyMuch? ›
"It was always a mutual agreement," Porter clarifies about leaving the PRETTYMUCH home. "I didn't want to keep them up all night with the kid. That's not fair to them. And that also changes every aspect of their lifestyle, which they didn't ask for.How old is Austin from PrettyMuch? › Did Nick leave PrettyMuch? ›
PrettyMuch, formed in 2016 by Simon Cowell, said Nick Mara's exit came about after "some very difficult conversations as a band" PrettyMuch is changing its lineup. The boy band is saying goodbye to founding member Nick Mara after "some very difficult conversations as a band," they announced Friday via social media.How tall is Austin from Prettymuch? ›
Austin Porter is 1.78 m tall and weighs 63 kg.What race is Zion from Prettymuch? ›
|Full name||Caleb Zion Kuwonu|
Caleb Zion Kuwonu (born June 29, 1999) is a Canadian singer. He is part of the boy band PrettyMuch with Nick Mara, Brandon Arreaga, Austin Porter, and Edwin Honoret.Who left PrettyMuch? ›
Nick Mara from PRETTYMUCH announced he'll be breaking from the group to “take on new endeavors as an individual.” The group released a statement Friday (Oct. 7) saying goodbye to Mara, but assuring fans that they'll continue to make music with four members.How many members are in PrettyMuch? ›
The five-piece boyband first stepped onto the music scene in 2017 after they were formed by Simon Cowell one year prior. Since then, members Nick, Brandon Arreaga, Edwin Honoret, Zion Kuwonu and Austin Porter have stolen the hearts of their listeners, who are eager to hear new music.How old is Edwin Honoret? › Does PrettyMuch have an album? ›