DJ Campbell and Dylan Scully of the Dublin Rock Band, Pretty Ltd, Tell Us About the Project’s Transition from Metal Act, Minus Ten Thousand Hours, and How Dylan’s Work as a Gig Photographer Influenced Their Iconography

Dylan Scully grew up in a musical household in Dublin. “My da’s always been mad into music,” he tells Post-Burnout. “My name literally comes from Bob Dylan, his favourite musician. I have the same birthday as him, and as soon as that was even a chance, he was like, ‘We’re naming him Dylan!’ [Laughs]

“So, yeah, I’ve always been fascinated by music, as a kid. My parents were always playing The Beatles and stuff like that for me, growing up. And I never thought about it much, it was always just there.”

DJ Campbell grew up in a non-musical household in Kilkenny. “For myself, nobody in my family was into music and stuff like that,” he says. “It was just like the thing of guitar lessons started in school when you were in second or third class or something like that, and that became the bane of my existence.

“For a couple of years, my mam and dad would be like, ‘I paid for that at the start of the year. You have to follow through, you have to keep going.’ I was like, ‘I fucking hate this!’ It was like maths. […] I started when I was eight, did it until I was, like, twelve, and then I was like, ‘Oh, I’m so glad I can put this down and never play it again.’”

Despite their different upbringings and relationships with music, some symmetry can be seen when observing their teenage years. Dylan recalls going from the likes of The Hives and Blur, to Fall Out Boy, to Korn, Slipknot and Cradle of Filth.

DJ, on the other hand, was exposed to the likes of Slipknot and Korn by friends, but they didn’t really gel with him. As he craved the presence of pop in the music he listened to, he soon got into the pop-punk and emo music of the day, like Paramore, Metro Station and Fall Out Boy, which sparked an interest in songwriting and performing.

At sixteen, he picked his guitar back up and formed the metal band Minus Ten Thousand Hours. “The reason I thought of Minus Ten Thousand Hours as a name was that I heard that it takes ten thousand hours to perfect something. So, it was meaning that you’re shit,” DJ explains.

Looking back, he feels that some of their potential momentum was curbed by his inclination to fuck with the audience. As he explains, “I used to have a thing when I was writing in the old band, Minus, that my favourite thing was, ‘Oh, let’s do four bars of a cool riff, and then the crowd starts jumping, and then just switch it into blues or jazz or reggae.’

“Really quick, so people in the crowd are going, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah! [Disappointedly] Awwwwhhh!’ Yeah, now you’re feeling it but I’m only giving you a taste and then I’m going back to something else, and I fuckin’ loved that! And then I realised that that’s actually really shit for the crowd. [Laughs]” “Yeah,” adds Dylan, sarcastically. “Most people don’t find that fun, like!”

Around the same time, a fifteen-year-old Dylan had already been performing, but he truly found his calling when his mate offered him a bass guitar in exchange for his PSP. “Like, I had a guitar and I was playing guitar, and I just thought the PSP was shit, I had no games for it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, fuck it. Why not?’,” he recalls.

“Turns out, it wasn’t even his bass! It was his friend’s, that had left it there! So, I basically stole someone’s bass! And I ended up just noodling around with it, and then other mates of mine were starting a band, they needed a bassist, and I was like, ‘Fuck it, I have a bass. I’ll give it a try,’ and I just ended up finding it way more fun. Like, I was able to mess around and be a little bit pulled back from the centre of attention for the sound and still be really creative with it.”

Top, L-R: Tom Gaffney (drums) and DJ Campbell (guitar and vocals)
Bottom: Dylan Scully (bass)
Photo by Sara Edel
Courtesy of Pretty Ltd

After finishing secondary school, both lads found themselves uncertain of what they wanted to do next. Dylan vaguely knew that he wanted to work in the music industry, and studied Music Recording for a year before dropping out. In 2011, the famous and renowned British chain of music colleges, BIMM Institute, opened its first international college in Dublin (and changed its acronym to stand for the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, as a result).

Both Dylan and DJ would attend BIMM Dublin in its first year of operation, to study Commercial Modern Music, but for slightly different reasons. “I went to BIMM for bass, because I just enjoyed it so much. It just felt like the instrument I was called to,” says Dylan of his reasoning for attending.

“I found out about BIMM at the last minute. I didn’t even have it at the top of my CAO but I didn’t have enough points, so I ended up at BIMM!” explains DJ of his reasoning for attending, before lamenting, “I could’ve been an intellectual disability nurse, but I ended up as a failed musician, instead.”

At this time, DJ maintained Minus to the best of his abilities and was also performing more acoustic-focused numbers as a solo artist. He had also recently become enamoured by Queens of the Stone Age and Biffy Clyro, two acts whom he still cites as some of his biggest influences.

When he and Dylan finally met on the course, Dylan was quite taken aback by what DJ was creating. “His writing, at the time, was so weird,” recalls Dylan. “It was just really fuckin’ out there. We used to call it ‘schizophrenic rock,’ because he would just jump from one fuckin’ genre to another. So, that made me go, ‘Yeah, I want to listen to a bit of this, actually,’ to inform this.”

 “Yeah, for me, I would look back and say it was fun and all, but I wrote stupid,” admits DJ. “Like, one of the best things about being in a crowd is… – for me, now, anyway, and it probably was back then, but I wasn’t in the crowd as much back then. I was playing more gigs – but when you’re in the crowd you want that connection with the band, where they’re playing a song and it’s at a tempo, you’re dancing to that tempo or you’re rocking out to that tempo or whatever.”

Eventually, the two started performing together. “He had already had his old band, Minus Ten Thousand Hours, going at the time, but with friends of his who were going to different colleges and shit like that,” explains Dylan. “And, for one of our assignments, we had to do an original set, and he was like, ‘Hey, I have all these original songs, do you want to do them?’ and I was like, ‘Fuck it. Yeah, let’s do that.’

“So, we ended up doing that and, from there, he was like, ‘Hey, so all the other members in the band don’t want to be in the band anymore. Do you want to be in the band?’, and I was like, ‘Yeah, OK!’” After laughing, DJ adds, “’Rope me in now that I know all the tunes!’” “I know all the songs, so I may as fuckin’ well, like!” laughs Dylan and adds, “So, from there we’ve just been playing…playing with each other? Ew! [Laughs] Playing together, ever since, basically!”

Minus Ten Thousand Hours continued performing throughout the early-to-mid 2010s and began releasing music in 2016. Their success saw them grow a fanbase that enabled them to frequently tour across the country, experiencing different pockets of the Irish music scene. In 2022, they released their second album, which was self-titled. After its release, they found themselves with a batch of songs that didn’t fit what they had established.

“We did Minus for however many fuckin’ years,” says Dylan. “And, after COVID, we had written a lot of new songs, and had even gigged them as Minus once or twice, and we all kind of just said, ‘This isn’t what Minus was. We don’t want to play any of the old songs anymore. Can we not just start fresh? Just be brand new?’, and that’s kind of how Pretty Ltd came about, then. ‘Let’s start again.’ Reboot kind of thing.”

In August 2023, Pretty Ltd was officially born. One thing brought over from the old project was a self-deprecating name. “Pretty Ltd – I’m pretty limited in what I do,” mansplains DJ. “Or, ‘Hey, guys! We’re Pretty Limited!’” “It’s one of those things that doesn’t immediately sound like a joke but then, when you hear it, you’re like, ‘Ah, fuck! I can’t believe that I missed that for so long!’,” adds Dylan.

On how Pretty Ltd differs from Minus, DJ says, “The way I’m thinking of it is, the stuff at the moment, I’m writing [in the style] of the stuff that I used to really, really like. I felt like I was trying too hard, [doing] something that I wasn’t really into before BIMM. [With Pretty Ltd, I write] as a, I don’t know, fifteen-, sixteen-year-old. What I loved doing, but doing it with a lot more experience.”

In the last couple of years, Dylan has become a very in-demand photographer. From shooting promo pics to gig photos, he has worked with a plethora of musicians, venues and promoters across the Irish music scene and his work has been published in pretty much any domestic music website or publication worth giving a damn about (and some that aren’t, like this one).

We asked Dylan if any of the shows he has shot over the years have inspired any of the aspects of Pretty Ltd. “Massively,”  he responds. “One of the first shows I actually shot was Robert Grace in The Academy, and I remember one of the things that he did that we do now at our shows, is he had this new song – it wasn’t released or anything like that – and he said, ‘Look, I’m going to play this song. I know youse don’t know it, but it’s real easy to sing, so I’m going to teach you the chorus right now, and when it comes in, just sing it along with me. That’s all I’m asking.’

“And we do that now because we know that not everyone that comes to see us knows us or has heard the songs, and some of them just aren’t released either, so we’ll do that. And then even our stage attire, a massive influence on that was Really Good Time and just seeing their uniform. Because, as soon as you see them, you see them walking through the venue in those boiler suits, you’re like, ‘Well, there’s the band!’ You know that’s the band; they’re not just some fuckin’ punters walking around, like!

“And that idea of, ‘Oh, shit! That must be the band!’, that’s what prompted the velour tracksuits at first, and then the all-white boyband look. For us, it was just more funny than too serious, as well. […] We’re professionals, we do think about these things, but we are like, ‘Let’s have a good time. Let’s just have a laugh together.’”

Since their formation in August, the band have wasted absolutely no time in getting their music out. Thanks in part to some of their songs being penned prior to their existence, DJ and Dylan, along with Tom Gaffney on drums, have already released a discography that puts many longer-established acts to shame. They released their debut, “High,” in the month that they formed, and then, since February, have released a single every month. At the time of publication, in May 2024, they have a total of five songs available.

“It’s a song up every month, from February until June,” explains DJ of their release pattern. “At least June,” qualifies Dylan. “Maybe another one in July, and if we can push it to August, we will.”  “We have the backlog there, it’s just setting the dates that we want to get shit out, you know?” says DJ. “And deciding if some of the tracks are still what we want to release,” adds Dylan. “There’s still a lot of questions to ask ourselves in the meantime.”

Pretty Ltd’s latest single, “Me,” is available on all streaming platforms now. You can keep up to date with the band’s music, live dates, and social media accounts here.

This full interview – where we go into further depth about everything discussed in this article, as well as discuss Pretty Ltd as a fake brand, their iconography, the Irish music scene, how Dylan got into photography, recording in bulk, 2000s emo music, and much more – will be available on our podcast, tonight at 21:00 (IST). You can catch it on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music Podcasts.

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