By Kate Beemer
Monday, November 7, 2022
On Thursday, November third, I had the pleasure of seeing Pretty Sick perform at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. This NYC ( lower east side :D) rooted, grunge-rock band was formed by Sabrina Fuentes (vocals & bass), and Eva Kaufman (drums), when the pair was just 12 and 13 years old.
They have been officially releasing music since their self-titled EP Pretty Sick in 2017,
and in September 2022 they dropped their debut album Makes me Sick, Makes me Smile. The album is a reflection of their late adolescence—a trip inside the teenage experience of New York City. Love, drugs, heartbreak, and the incessant noise that comes along. It sounds like hating everything yet loving it just as much. It’s your world crashing right in front of you and blooming all around you. The ‘Makes Me Sick’ North American tour spans from Minneapolis to New York, and the group currently consists of lead singer/ guitarist Sabrina Fuentes, drummer Eva Kaufman, and guitarist Orazio Argentero.
The show was sold out, and the grungy, red
and purple-lit venue was full of people who Pretty Sick typically lures in- with their heavy basslines and jagged yet melodic vocals. I saw a sea of ripped fabric, dyed hair, unique piercings and smudged makeup. The group entered the stage, immediately beginning with their song “Heaven” from their debut album. Sabrina drawls,“Maybe we could ride off in the sunset/Maybe the sky will be pink and blue/You picked me up when I was falling down/And I loved you because I never knew/Just what you f***ing do”. Eva, Sabrina, and Orazio played seamlessly with one another, pressing the crowd together for an emotionally charged, sweaty mosh, charged by the two melding bass lines and entrancing drums all complimenting Sabrina’s darkly poetic lyrics and captivating voice. The group demands your attention and their sound pounds in your chest.
After a post-show cigarette and impromptu meet and greet, I was lucky enough to sit down with the three band members and ask a couple of questions. I was happy to wait for the crowd of giddy fans to take photos and thank the group for their performance. I observed the variety of their fanbase. An older man from Japan gifted Sabrina some vintage sunglasses and $100 cash. A mother and younger daughter complimented the use of two basses, and left hand in hand. A group of teenagers lining up to have Sabrina sign their various empty beer cans
and cigarette butts. People are certainly enraptured by the group’s one-of-a-kind, gritty sound, and their artful way of sharing pain and angst that a whole generation seems to have in common. Several photographers waited their turn to capture the band together, a couple gifting them the polaroids of themselves as soon as they developed.
Meeting with Sabrina, Eva, Orazio, and their tour manager Paige was truly a pleasure and I appreciate their kindness and openness as we hung out for a while in the green room. It was great to see their dynamic as a band and as friends. Here are some fun highlights from our
Kate Beemer: I saw you guys just went to Twin Peaks diner in Washington. How was that? Twin peaks is one of my favorite shows ever … Did you feel transported to the set?
Sabrina: It’s our favorite show. We were incredibly hyped. We were in shock at the diner eating our pancakes. We were like holy f***.
How was the coffee?
Eva: It was … what is it- damn good? Ah
Orazio: It was damn fine that’s what it was…
Sabrina: What does he say about pies? They go to heaven?
Orazio: This is where pies go to heaven- no this is where pies go when they die. And also the guy who served us was like the sweetest guy.
So how has touring together been for you guys so far?
Sabrina: Well we’ve been touring together off and on for about two years now…Let me just start from the beginning. Ok, so me and Eva started the band together when she was 13 and I was twelve. She went to college in around like 2017, and we just played with different friends for a while. And then I moved to London for school in like late 2018 and I met Orazio. Orazio’s from Rome. And soon afterwards we were offered a tour in Japan.
So the first tour we ever– that I ever did and the band ever did was in Japan. We did 12 dates in 10 days and then after that w
e were offered another tour in early 2019 or late 2018 that was opening for Starcrawler. And we did like 10 dates but I think maybe 15 days. And so this is our fourth tour together. We just did UK with beabadoobee, all three of us, and now we’re in the US, on our fourth tour, all three of us.
How would you compare touring here in the US to anywhere else?
Orazio (laughing): US is better man… US is bigger, its nicer, it’s better
Sabrina: They’re all so different, they all are great. I’ve honestly never had a bad touring experience. There’s obviously slow days where you’re just driving but like everywhere we’ve ever toured I’ve loved.
Orazio: It’s always fun to play shows, never hard, always a good time.
Sabrina: Yeah, especially rock shows.
Kate: I’m sure. I know you [Eva +Sab] are both from New York, but now you’re living in London- do you miss New York?
Sabrina: Yeah of course, I love New York- but I also love London.
Kate: East coast or west coast?
Sabrina: East coast easily. I don’t know the west coast and I don’t care to know the west coast… I’m from the east coast. New York represent, forever. Sorry! Love playing in these cities, but I’m a New Yorker through and through.
Kate: So about your debut album, first I need to say, it’s amazing. I love it, and I think the show tonight proves that it’s really reaching people. It’s very raw, and the crowd tonight- and your audience, in general, is clearly really resonating with your lyrics. I wanted to ask if you had any words of wisdom for the emotionally charged and angsty teenager who is finding themselves in your lyrics.
Sabrina: I would mostly say to anyone that’s still a younger kid who enjoys my music, just enjoy your childhood. Don’t rush to be an adult.
I rushed to be an adult really hard, and like, sex and drugs are great, but rock and roll is better. Dont rush into the sex and drugs part of it. That’s gonna be there forever. But being young, and like, having innocence and exciting fun is so temporary. Enjoy it while you can. Just do the things you want to do as soon as you want to do it. Even just jamming with your friends. Or if you wanna do visual art, draw or whatever as much as you can. Or write as much as possible. Just enjoy and stop trying to be a grownup who’s partying. Cuz that actually blows. Anybody who’s hanging out with you is a bad person.
Kate: I think you’re totally right, it’s great advice. Rushing things may feel fun when you’re sixteen or whatever but it usually means looking back and wondering why people so much older were paying attention to you in the first place.
Sabrina: Yeah I look back at every adult-I mean, I only had adult friends from the age of 14 and
onwards. And with exception of like the trustworthy guys who protected me, those dudes can all k*** themselves. *Laughter*… like they’re just bad f***ing people. I look back on my teenage years and wish I had just spent more time jamming and writing songs, cuz it would have been even more fun.
Kate: Well if one good thing can come from all of those experiences it’s that you really are getting through to people, especially young people. We all appreciate your lyrics and your guys’ sound…
Sabrina- Thank you so much.
Kate: Okay my last random question- *in reference to Eva’s current dark blue bob haircut* Were you Coraline for Halloween?
Eva: Yes! But I’ve actually never seen it…
Orazio: Instead on Halloween she lived it.
Sabrina *rolls eyes*: She’s never even f***ing seen it! I was the other mother and Orazio was Wybie. That was probably my favorite movie growing up. She was like I should be Coraline for Halloween and then on the day of our show she’s like I’ve never seen it, and I was like I’m gonna kill you.
Kate: Thank you guys so much, it was so great talking to you and I hope you enjoy checking out KZSC!
To listen to Pretty Sick or find more info about the band, click here.
Photo credits to Sophie Shultz @mymiscmedia on instagram