The Boston trio Pretty & Nice construct pop spectacles with guitars, drums, and various electronics. You could mention of Montreal in passing on “Piranha” or “Peekaboo,” etc., but more interestingly, think of bands they themselves list as influences like Braniac (a sunnier take on them, but the structural shifts are there), Ex Models, Q & Not U and to go elsewhere: Squeeze, the Jam, the English Beat, etc. Get Young, their second full-length and Hardly Art debut, came out this fall. The guys are here today because vocalist/guitarist/etc Holden Lewis walks dogs and vocalist/guitarist/etc Jeremy Mendicino works at a UPS store. No word on drummer Bobby Landry, but drummers can be mysterious like that. After the discussion, take a listen to all three working together on “Tora Tora Tora.”
Jeremy Mendicino, vocals/guitar
STEREOGUM: How long have you been at UPS? Any previous postal experience?
JEREMY MENDICINO: I actually don’t work for UPS. I work at the UPS Store. We’re retail; we don’t drive UPS trucks and deliver your ugly mail order clothing purchases. We sell greeting cards and pack your ugly, expensive trinkets so they won’t break, god forbid, on their way to Boca.
STEREOGUM: Ah, so what are you duties?
JM: My duties include, packing, shipping, arranging storage, faxing, copying, laminating, binding, key making, general shipping consultation, and masking my contempt for consumerist America.
STEREOGUM: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen shipped?
JM: I never get the wackos, very unfortunately, but friends of mine have bared witness to people attempting to ship items including the following: 1) Live Cat 2) Weed 3) Human Remains.
STEREOGUM: Has the Internet at all affected the amount of parcels passing through?
JM: The Internet has affected the necessitation of our “‘shipping account,” which is to say that one can print out a shipping label through organizations like eBay, Zappos, etc, which they can then just hand to a UPS driver, thus avoiding the annoying, and arcane process of having to actually leave one’s house. So, basically, the Internet, as we all know, has turned human beings into fat, lazy, lumps who think that they don’t need to actually interact with other living creatures … The Internet! Who needs a college degree or any actual talent!? We just need a browser!
STEREOGUM: This might not apply, but do you look good in brown?
JM: I wear black.
Holden Lewis, vocals/guitar
STEREOGUM: How long have you worked as a dog walker?
HOLDEN LEWIS: Since April ’08.
STEREOGUM: Do you own your own business or work for a larger company?
HL: I work for a small company. There are only three full time employees and a few part-timers for occasional extra work.
STEREOGUM: Generally speaking, how many dogs do you walk at a time?
HL: Most days I take two walks, each walk has five to seven dogs. Sometimes if there are only two or three dogs. I’ll take them to nearby dog parks where there’s a three-dog limit. The most I’ve ever walked at once was nine. My boss makes sure that doesn’t happen in any normal situations, though.
STEREOGUM: Can you describe a typical walk? How many different walks do you go on throughout a workday?
HL: What I do is normally called a playgroup or a hike. I drive around the city and pick up the dogs. That takes a good while (45 minutes to 1.5 hours) then I drive out of the city to a park or reservation and let the dogs off leash for a hike. I walk for an hour and a half, then we’re all back in the car and I drop off the dogs and pick up another group. Rinse, and Repeat!
STEREOGUM: The dog walkers I see generally have a motley crew of breeds and they all seem to get along. Do you have to go through some type of screening process to make sure you don’t get a violent pooch in the mix?
HL: Well, most owners know if their dog is violent in any particular situation and they’ll tell me about it when I meet them. I think most people with nutso dogs just know that they can’t send them out with a group of dogs, so they wouldn’t try. Also, in my view, many dogs that have temperament issues have them because they aren’t cared for and treated properly. It’s pretty expensive, dog walking, so we mainly get clients that are really into taking good care of their pets — the dogs are normally well cared for and pretty well behaved as a result.
STEREOGUM: Do any breeds in particular get along?
HL: Well, labs are really easy most of the time, they’re friends with anything. But really, most breeds seem to get along just fine. Once they go out with the same group of dogs a bunch, a pack mentality seems to form and everyone typically gets along. If not, its normally just a dog that doesn’t like another dog, for whatever reason.
I don’t get along with hounds, they bug me. Beagles are my enemies. Their noses are too good, they get distracted and wander off. They’re normally either smart enough to know they don’t need to come when I call, or too dumb and distracted to hear. They make terrible noises, too.
STEREOGUM: Over time, do the dogs start forming friendships? Do you get attached to the dogs?
HL: As for the dog relationships, they definitely make specific friends within a group. And of course I get attached to the dogs! Also, its not like working with kids, I get to pick favorites.
STEREOGUM: I imagine one of the downsides if cleaning up after all these animals. Do you have a special technique for picking up dog shit quickly and
cleanly? Have you ever taken the dogs out for a walk and realized that you forgot to bring doggie bags?
HL: I just use my bare hands. No, I have a fanny pack that has all the doggie bags quick and easy to get to. You put the bag over your hand and pick up the shit, then pull the bag around the shit and tie it off. I don’t walk the dogs on leashes so my hands are typically free, unless I’m on a mucho importante phone call with the label, haha, jk… I pick up the poop, tie the bag, and put it into a larger bag or leave it somewhere obvious to pick up on my way back.
Eww. If I forget bags, I don’t pick up. I don’t normally forget the bags. I’m in the woods a lot so sometimes the dogs do their stuff way out from the path and it doesn’t need to be disposed of. That’s nice.
STEREOGUM: Ever been bitten?
HL: Hmmm. Not really, not on purpose! Some dogs can really spaz out if you have a tennis ball, though. If you aren’t looking they might hop up to grab it from your hand. A few times I’ve gotten small scratches on my hands from that. Occasionally a dog will try and tell you something, and doesn’t have any better way than to latch onto your arm with its mouth, but its more of a communication thing in those cases, so I wouldn’t think of it as a bite. I assumed when you say “bite” you mean bite with the intention to hurt me.
Oh wait! There was this English Bulldog I used to walk named Hemingway. He was pretty grumpy often, he didn’t like to share attention. If he got really worked up and no dogs would play with him, he would jump up and try to grab my arm in his jaws. That hurt and was super irritating. He barked a lot too. A very obnoxious dog.
Sappy sidenote: When I was 12 or so, I did a nutty cannonball off a rope swing into a pond and yelled. My dog heard the scream and thought I was hurt. He lept into the water, swam to me, grabbed my wrist with his mouth (biting?) and dragged me to the shore. Safe!
STEREOGUM: Do you currently own a dog? If so, does it feel strange walking one dog at a time?
HL: I don’t own a dog, my family always had dogs when I was growing up. I do walk a bunch at once, but it doesn’t feel strange to walk just one.
STEREOGUM: Have you ever claimed a dog as your own after getting the attention of an attractive passerby?
HL: Nah, when you have seven dogs with you people would just think you’re a weird dog person if you said they were all yours. Like one of those old ladies with a hundred cats in her house.
STEREOGUM: People are intense about their pets. I imagine there must be some peculiarities you need to deal with … any worth mentioning?
HL: Well, the dogs are 95% reflections of their owners. If the owners are really easy going and cool, the dogs are the same. My favorite dogs are owned by my favorite clients. That being said, its kind of funny to see the pets being treated like kids. There are a bunch of young couples with dogs who seem like maybe they weren’t ready to have a kid, so they have a dog. Since the dog is their “baby” it gets the best of everything and fussed over a bit. That’s funny to watch.
I’m pretty sure one guy I walk a couple of dogs for is a hypochondriac. He has tons of meds in his house and he’s always a little helter skelter and has some kind of ailment to talk about. The weird thing is that his dogs are on all kinds of meds too, always some trip to the vet for some small problem that I never seem to see. I can’t imagine that’s just a coincidence.
Really though, all the people I work for are really sweet and good eggs. The peculiarities are really few and far between. The owners are just busy folks who don’t want their pet to suffer inside because they’re busy at work. They’re also pretty cool about me taking off for a month at time to go on tour; they all seem understanding and happy that I have another life that will take priority over walking dogs.
Here’s Holden in his other life:
- Pretty And Nice – “Tora Tora Tora”Download
[L to R: Holden Lewis, Bobby Landry, Jeremy Mendicino]