When a song by The Preatures comes on the radio, it’s immediately recognisable. Singer Isabella Manfredi has a distinctive voice, of course, but it’s not just that.
It’s something else. The tempo, the beat, the sound and, dare I say it, the vibe.
The band’s guitarist and producer Jack Moffitt can’t quite put his finger on it either but the deep thinker gives it a go. Nor is he able to explain why The Preatures have become one of the most in-demand bands in Australia right now, having supported The Rolling Stones at Hope Estate in 2014 and performed at festivals like Coachella, Glastonbury, Bonarroo, Splendour In The Grass and Pentaport in Korea.
In addition to Manfredi on vocals and keys and Moffitt on Guitar, The Preatures is Thomas Champion on bass and Luke Davison on drums.
The band formed in 2010 after meeting at Sydney’s Lansdowne Hotel. They released their first single Take a Card in 2012 which became one of the most played tracks on Triple J radio that year. In October 2012 they signed with Mercury Records Australia and released the Shaking Hands EP.
After taking over a space in a rundown building known as Hibernian House in the inner Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, the band set about creating their own rehearsal and recording studio and named it Doldrums.
Their second EP was recorded at Doldrums with Moffitt producing and mixing. Lead single and title track Is This How You Feel became a breakthrough hit, earning both popular and critical acclaim in Australia and overseas. Soon after The Preatures signed with Harvest Records in the US and Virgin in the UK.
In September 2014 The Preatures released their debut album Blue Planet Eyes to worldwide critical acclaim. They wrote and recorded their second album, Girlhood, at Doldrums.
Despite their success, Moffitt still feels the band is trying to keep its foot in the door.
“That sense never goes away I guess,” he says. “You’re always looking to try the next thing. I think that comes down to a creative mentality.”
As for the band’s distinctive sound, he says it “enters a realm of things that can’t be explained clearly”.
“What you’re talking about is some special kind of thing, some sonic identity. I don’t know what else to describe it as,” he says.
“When we’re doing what we’re doing it feels right. We’ve become very aware of it and we just try to push that sound out as much as we can.
“Izzi and I go deep into writing and being creative and putting creativity onto a record or capturing a moment of that creativity so that it can be preserved. Creative freedom, though, is an ideal and it can be your master or you can be its slave.
“Musically, I don’t feel very in touch with my creativity right now because we’re on tour and my focus is on putting that energy into performances. To perform is the most realistic aspect of that creative impulse because you can interpret it by who’s in front of you and not have to shape it too much.”
The Preatures’ audience has changed remarkably in eight years. Sweaty pubs have been replaced by outdoor stages and thousands of fans. Moffitt takes it all with a grain of salt.
“Sometimes I really long for a tightly packed little room where the next closest person is an arm’s reach away, and it’s really immediate and dangerous and it could get gross. I miss that stuff sometimes,” he says.
“When I think about everything we did to get to making the first album it was all club shows and sweaty little pubs and disgusting people and fighting your way through crowds and busting out amplifiers.
“Now I definitely feel that there are some luxurious aspects – your own little green room and your own little patch and you can interact with people as much or as little as you like.
“When you get up on stage you have all this room and you never really have to engage with anyone if you don’t want to, but the spectacle can be really liberating.
“We’re mad for this stuff.”