Atlanta's music scene has come a long way from this. At the forefront of the sweaty basement shows, the Tuesday nights at Suburban Lanes, and the roster of young, talented bands popping up is Pretty Ambitious, a record label founded just a year ago by Kerry Gibson and Marcela Gonzalez. Coming up on their one-year anniversary (and a big birthday bash coming up at Star Bar next weekend), Kerry and Marcela had plenty to talk about. Check out what these music mavens have to say about the state of Atlanta's music scene, the best place to refuel after 5 a.m., and that one weird thing that happened at the Majestic that night.
SCOUT: Introduce yourself and tell our readers how they might know you.
KERRY: I’m Kerry, the label manager. People might know me from the Scooby Doo mysteries or from being at what feels like every show ever. But, for the most part, from running Pretty Ambitious.
MARCELA: I’m Marcela. I do marketing, PR and booking for the label. You might recognize me as the girl that works from Aurora L5P all day, everyday, or of course from shows.
SCOUT: Tell us about Pretty Ambitious. When was it born? How was it conceived? Any story behind the name?
MARCELA: Pretty Ambitious was born from a love we shared of indie/ punk rock. Lower 40 Records, our alt country label, didn’t really have the capacity to harbor these bands we really wanted to work with, so we started Pretty Ambitious and released Mermaids. The label was officially born June 2010.
KERRY: The name comes from this guy we know who said that this idea we had once was “pretty ambitious of us”. A few months after that, the label was born.
SCOUT: How and why did you get yourself into the record biz?
MARCELA: My music experiences started in college. I studied and managed my college radio station, did internships (where I worked for Kerry) and began doing PR. After graduating, I moved to NY and did music PR for some pretty big hitters. Cue some bad circumstances that led me back to Atlanta, reconnected with Kerry and started working PR for Lower 40. The rest is history.
KERRY: I went to my first show when I was six and began an intense love affair with music in every capacity. Going to shows, buying records, reading music publications, and just being around music is what inspired me every day. I worked in various aspects of the business including college radio and at 26, quit my job to intern at a label/ promotions agency (where Marcela interned for me). After leaving there in 2006, I started Lower 40. 4 years later, Pretty Ambitious came along.
SCOUT: Given that Pretty Ambitious is celebrating its first birthday (happy bday!), do you have any thoughts on the future of the label?
PA: THANK YOU! Our vision for the label is for it to one day be our full time jobs. We want to put out legendary records by bands that we love and respect. We also strive to have an office with central A/C, non-rusty water, and room for more than 2 desks.
SCOUT: And how will you celebrate PA's big bday?
PA: We are throwing ourselves an epic birthday party. We are transforming the Star Bar into a drive in movie theatre. The back parking lot will feature 60’s monster movies and food trucks. Plus, there will be bands (abby gogo, Lucy Dreams, Predator, Husseins, Manray, Wymyns Prysyn, The Hymens +more) and 4 DJs playing inside, all night long. We have 60’s formula Schlitz sponsoring as well as Marlboro, Purge ATL and Team Luis. It’s going to be our biggest blow out yet. Doors are at 5:30, movies at sundown. Check out the Facebook invite for more details.
SCOUT: Any wisdom or musings on the state of the Atlanta music scene?
KERRY: This town is known around the world now as a place where great music is cultivated. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right now putting out records. It says a lot about a place when the standard 30 CDs I listen to in my car are 80% Atlanta bands, old and new. I think the previous generation set the bar pretty high for what can come out of here. This new generation that was heavily influenced by what came before is doing a fine job of keeping that reputation alive. I am just glad I get to be a part of it as an enthusiast as well as a cohort.
MARCELA: The Atlanta music scene seems to change and evolve cyclically. Things move quickly here but they also always come back around. Some bands want to get out and see the world and some are fine with just playing and recording and that’s totally fine. I think it really says something about your passion and motivation when your band is able to get out of the shuffle. That’s definitely something worth congratulating.
SCOUT: Favorites time: favorite place in ATL to see a show? Favorite spot to hit after a show? Favorite restaurant to refuel after a long night of show-going?
KERRY: I love a good house show! After a show we usually go to Star Bar or the 529 patio until they kick us out. Refueling is mostly done at McDonald's on Ponce. Cheap food at 5am is hard to find.
MARCELA: Suburban Lanes is a fun Tuesday night venue these days. You can’t go wrong with cheap bowling, cheap beer and a show. Fav restaurant used to be Majestic until that line got so long. One time there were ninjas handing out paper throwing stars. It was weird…
SCOUT: How about some of your favorite ATL music-related landmarks, people, places?
MARCELA: The Highland Inn, The Clermont, Drive Invasion, Mark from Die Slaughterhaus
KERRY: Criminal Records, Aurora, Stephanie Luke, The Mess-Around, the old Wells Street warehouse.
SCOUT: And your favorite "curious find(s)" in Atlanta?
KERRY: The Highland Row Antiques store. I have scored some epic stuff in there for very little.
Marcela: The Clothing Warehouse monthly warehouse sales in East Point. Manuel's. Oakland Cemetery. CHURCH. The Plaza Theatre. Starlight 6 Drive-In.
SCOUT: Finally, time for a shameless plug: tell our readers where they can learn more about y'all.
PA: We got it all!
Pretty Ambitious on Facebook