As they release the first single "Stars" off their EP "Smackables," the boys are "fully believing in everything we're putting out," Porter tells PEOPLE

By Tomás Mier
January 22, 2021 11:55 AM
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PRETTYMUCH doesn't want to do the usual "s— that a boyband should do." They want to change things up.

With a new label and the release of "Stars," the group's first single in over a year, PRETTYMUCH is "not afraid to take risks" as they take their music and stories into their own hands. 

The boys — Brandon Arreaga, Edwin Honoret, Zion Kuwonu, Nick Mara and Austin Porter — catch up with PEOPLE about their forthcoming EP Smackables and their growth and brotherhood since their start in 2016.

"We felt like we were within boundaries with our last label," Honoret, 21, tells PEOPLE. "We just said, 'Hey, we're going to start fresh, we're just going to drop all the boundaries, all the limitations and just move forward.'"

PRETTYMUCH
| Credit: Ryan Kevin
Left: Edwin Honoret | Credit: Ryan Kevin
Right: Nick Mara | Credit: Ryan Kevin

"It feels freeing," adds Arreaga, 21. "It's that difference between having a job to do and doing what you love."

And it's clear that today, the boys are doing what exactly what they love, leading in the production and writing of their new music. "Stars" — and its The Midnight Gospel-inspired video — showcase the love lyrics and choreographed moves the group's fans are used to but with a fresh, R&B and mature vibe that sets the boys apart from other groups.

"The stars above match your eyes. I only wish you could see it," they sing on the track. ("Just because we're maturing, doesn't mean we can't talk about love anymore," Honoret says.) 

2021 is a turning of the page for the group that went on tour with Khalid in 2018, performing their hits "Summer on You," "Would You Mind" and "Jello."

RELATED VIDEO: 5 Things to Know About the Band PRETTYMUCH in 2017

Left: Credit: Ryan Kevin
Right: Credit: Ryan Kevin

"When we did everything before, there was definitely some of us in there. Our emotions, our stories, our life, there was a little bit of us in there," Porter, 23, says. "But I feel like now, everything that's coming out is almost 90 to 100% us." 

"We're fully believing in everything we're putting out. We're proving ourselves wrong — I can't speak for everyone, but I know I doubted it for a little bit at some points," he adds. "And when you take so many shots and you keep missing, it's like, 'Am I ever going to make one?'"

They're unafraid to take their own shots — together. The key to their brotherhood? "Communication," says Arreaga.

"We all have to be on the same page," he says. "Also, I think to keep each other in our own element, we all have healthy communication with our own family, our own friends. We take enough time for ourselves."

Brandon Arreaga
| Credit: Ryan Kevin

"We already know each other pretty well I think it's just respecting each other's opinions, decisions and just making sure that everyone gets respected," adds Honoret. "We're just five minds with different backgrounds, aesthetics, styles and tastes in music. We're just trying to figure out what PrettyMuch, the character — if PrettyMuch was one body — what that would look like. In reality, it's just all of us combined."

For the boys, the forthcoming EP is a signifier of how they're the boy band "anomaly."

"There was a lot of speculation of whether or not we had parted ways or we were even going to keep dropping music," explains Honoret. "And I think it's not even to the people who unfollowed us or whatever the case may be, it's more to the public to say: 'Look, we have been doing this. This is what we've been working on and we're not going to let any speculations deteriorate the effort that we put in working from when we were 16 to now being 21, 22, 23.'" 

"We're starting to realize the safe move is usually the wrong one," adds Kuwonu.

"Stars" is out now. The Smackables EP arrives Jan. 29.