By: Lindsay Longacre
With the drop of their first studio album, Ghosts & Zombies, indie-pop duo Petty Party met up with us to discuss the album, how they got started, songwriting, and what to expect in the near future for the rising group.
Based out of San Diego, and more specifically born out of Point Loma Nazarene University, we met up with Bruna and Michael in La Jolla on a chilly January morning to talk music over coffee. Bruna handles the vocals for the duo and co-writes alongside Michael, who also mixes, produces, and engineers the duo’s music. After initial introductions and the movement from the packed coffee shop to a table outside, Petty Party took us on a journey through their music and how Ghosts & Zombies came to be.
Q: Let’s start with the beginning. How did we meet? Get started?
Michael: We go to college together, went to college together.
Bruna: Yeah, I just graduated.
Q: Oh cool, congratulations. Did you have class together? Or were you just friends?
Bruna: Thank you. I don’t think we had any classes together, but we had a lot of mutual friends and then we dated for a few months and that’s how we started working together. We just kept making music after we broke up.
Q: Awesome. Where did your name come from?
Bruna: We were in downtown Riverside and I saw like a big poster for I think it was for like a Tom Petty -
Michael: Like a tribute band
Bruna: Yeah like a tribute band like a concert.
Michael: It was very Riverside
Bruna: Yeah, the wording was something like, “It’s a Petty Party,” and I was like, “Haha Petty Party that’d be a funny band name” because like every song that we write is either about each other or about our exes and so it kind of just stuck, we never like considered any other name we just went with that one
Q: We like it. So, since you both partake in the song writing process, can you walk us kinda through what that process is and how you go about coming up with songs, putting them all together, title, all that good stuff?
Michael: A lot of the stuff that is on this album was co-writes. I think Bruna wrote “Waves” by herself and I wrote “Shut Me Down” and “Ghosts [& Zombies],” everything else is a bit of a co-write. The stuff that I wrote mostly started off with just a melody that I heard in my head or just started singing in the shower, bathroom, as you do, and just kinda went from there. It usually starts off with just me on a piano and then I send it to Bruna, find it in her key, and then she’ll send me a voice memo back. The song that she wrote, “Waves,” I just sent her the instrumental and she just sent me a voice memo back.
Bruna: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that that one, I wrote that song when I was in line for a burger at Char Grill like on a break from work. Char Grill is like the best fast food of North Carolina specifically [laughs] but yeah so that’s pretty much our process. Michael just like sends me a track and I write lyrics [….] We wrote some of this album in Tennessee, we both like met kinda halfway in between where we were, got like a little random cabin in Tennessee, and wrote a few songs, recorded them, we did like three or four songs in a couple days. There we would just like shoot ideas back and forth.
Q: And that process is usually the same all the time?
Q: What would you say is the hardest thing about that process, the songwriting process?
Michael: The way I write is very rhythmic and I like doing like unusual, well not unusual, just like different rhythmic patterns and Bruna grew up singing in the church and a lot of church music is very straight, very like you can mix and match and it’ll all kinda sound the same, so working on the rhythm and what not has been a struggle. Turns out it really wasn’t. It just takes some time.
Q: Ok great, what would you say are some of your biggest influences when it comes to either songwriting or performing, who do you kinda pull from?
Michael: I’m a huge Jon Bellion fan. Huge Jon Bellion fan, seen him twice, guys a legend, and everything he’s ever written is just golden, everywhere. Umm Justin Bieber, Charlie Puth, both live and studio stuff as well.
Bruna: I think in like terms of my performance style I’d say Lennon Stella is a big influence. I love like I love her. [Faith and Bruna had a moment gushing over Lennon Stella here] She’s probably like my biggest influence and I think I draw a little bit from Stevie Nicks and Harry Styles and stuff especially in the way that they dress and like the way that Stevie performs; I saw Fleetwood Mac for my 21st birthday and it was like the best concert of my life, yeah she’s awesome. [Bruna and I then gushed over Fleetwood Mac]
Q: Well talking about performances, do you guys have any coming up, are you planning anything?
Michael: I don’t know. I’m kind of a fan of putting things out there and seeing what happens and if there’s a draw then performing. We’re also like a duo and if we wanted to do something, like a real performance, we’d need a band and we don’t have like, we do have a pool of musicians we could draw from, but it’s not like we’re like in a band band. If that makes any sense.
Q: Yeah, we understand, waiting it out a little bit. But you’ve put out things on like Spotify, I’m assuming, and all that good stuff?
Michael: Spotify yeah.
Bruna: Yeah, yeah. And we do music videos too.
Q: Oh, so even on YouTube and everything? How has that process been? Like putting music out on a streaming platform, dropping music videos, do you get a good number of listeners/viewers?
Michael: We do. It gets, it’s more and more with each time obviously. We just dropped an album called Ghosts & Zombies on Friday, and it’s Saturday, and it’s doing better than anything else we’ve dropped. It’s on like Submit Hub’s like Top 7, Top 10 like pop records which is cool for us. It’s gotten placed on quite a few playlists and it played on like some Latin radio station last night, [which was] epic. It’s cool. I do all [of it] in terms of the distribution and getting everything out. Once it’s recorded, I do everything from there so it’s, I don’t know, kinda fun it’s a bit of a learning experience. I help a lot of my classmates out with it too.
Q: That’s so cool. How long did this last, newest album take you guys?
Michael: “Puzzleheart is the song that was written first and that one was written
Bruna: about a year ago
Michel: Yeah, about a year ago, almost exactly a year ago but everything else from “Shut Me Down” to “Ghosts [&Zombies”] was written, mixed, whatever in the last school semester. So like “Paralyzed,” was mastered I think like maybe January 2nd or, it’s either January 2nd or Christmas Eve, whenever it was so it’s pretty recent.
Q: Are there any songs off of the album that you guys really dig and relate to? Which are your favorites?
Bruna: I’d say “Paralyzed” has been my favorite, I’ve been like rocking out to that.
Michael: Which is surprising actually.
Bruna: Yeah and I think a lot of people have liked it which is fun. I like forgot, sometimes I don’t like to listen to our music after I’ve recorded it because I hate listening to my own voice, and so [laughs] until Michael’s completely done mixing and making me sound great I don’t always love to listen to it, so it had been a while since I’d really sat down and listened to all the songs all the way through, but “Paralyzed” has been my favorite and I think a crowd favorite as well.
Michael: Yeah actually which is interesting, our greatest homie of all time, Vincent Percy Howard III, our saxophonist, never met him, lives in Missouri, our age, some dude, played on that track and he just killed it every time. I sent him the track and he sent me back like 40 or 50 different versions and then some vocals as well it was like ok! As far as favorites I really like the instrumentation of “Waves.” It sounds like just a giant acid trip - which I’ve never tried – but “Ghosts and Zombies” and “Shut Me Down” were written about the same girl and they both got onto the album so I think that I like those two the best because they kind of just summed up everything.
Q: And I always ask the musicians I talk to what their favorite concert is.
Bruna: I think mine, just for like the sake of nostalgia, my first ever concert was My Morning Jacket when I was like 14. They’re my favorite band, which probably nobody would guess looking at me now, but it was awesome. I was like 14 got super like second hand high, everyone was smoking weed, it was in San Francisco, it was awesome, I still look back fondly on that.
Michael: I think my favorite was Jon Bellion. I saw him in Nashville for the second time on his second world tour. The first time I saw him there was maybe 5,000 people [it was] in LA and then in Nashville [for the] second tour it was 50,000. I was like, “Dang man doing good,” but yeah, his band is just so solid. They don’t play with tracks or anything either it’s all live. It’s cool. I’d like to see Harry Styles though
Bruna: He’s coming to San Diego
Lindsay: I will be there
Michael: Bieber’s coming to San Diego too.
Lindsay: I will most likely be there as well
Michael: I’d like to hear his new album before I buy tickets though. “Yummy” was interesting
Lindsay: Yeah up and down feelings with “Yummy”
Michael: Mostly down. It sounds like he’s trying to hard. All the stuff he posted in his Instagram too was ugghhh
[Laughs from everyone]
Q: Love that. Okay, lastly, for the fanbase, what can they be expecting?
M: Well the album is not only just our album but it's also like the first step in our honor’s project because we somehow had to manage to turn what we do on the side into something to get school credit for so there will be more music before the summer as part of the honor’s project hopefully a single pretty soon.
We’ve been listening to Petty Party’s Ghosts & Zombies since we spoke with them and we honestly can’t get enough. Make sure to check them out on all streaming platforms as well as YouTube. We’re excited to see what they release next and can’t wait to see them live when they announce their first set of gigs.