Arriving at the beautiful offices of Republic Records in Manhattan, I was eager to talk with Ryan and Jimmy from the Irish band, Picture This. Freshly hot off a successful SXSW and a slew of press meetings, the Irish duo seemed a bit tired, but they were affable, humble and happily answered our questions in this fifteen-minute interview.
P&W: You guys are fresh off SXSW and spending St. Paddy’s day in America, how’d that go?
Jimmy: It was good, Austin is crazy, and St. Paddy’s day is even crazier. We’re a bit shell-shocked from the week, but we got through it, we’re wrecked tired now…it was great.
How many sets did you play at SXSW and how was the reception?
Jimmy: 3 shows, the reception was great, obviously us being such a new band and our first time being there is a bit worrying how it would go, we had a cool reception and a lot of positive comments and feedback.
How was spending St. Patrick’s Day in Texas compared to how it is celebrated at home in Ireland?
Ryan: It’s a lot different – In Ireland it’s just erm, Paddies Day… Irish people drink everyday [the room laughs], but over here they just fuckin’ go for it…oh they go for it, it’s so intense, they don’t even know what they’re fuckin’ celebrating, but they’re celebrating.
Now you’re in NYC with an impressive, debut, sold-out show tonight at Rockwood Music Hall – do you always play the same set or do you switch it up for different shows?
Jimmy: The set-list kinda changes all the time for the most part. That show sold-out extremely quickly, in less than an hour something, it was insane. For us just to play NYC is insane, we had reservations of putting a show on in Dublin – you know, at home. Being here is odd, if you told us last year we’d play a sold-out show in NYC I woulda said ‘fuck off’.
How are you guys dealing with it all, the sudden and expansive attention you’ve been receiving – has anything changed with you personally or musically?
Ryan: No, absolutely nothing has changed; it just kinda goes over our heads, we don’t think about it – we don’t think it has even hit us yet.
Jimmy: I don’t think it will hit us until years later.
Ryan: It all just goes over our heads it’s the best way; if we sitting around thinking ‘fuck, we’re playing in NY tonight’ – it’s not healthy to think like that. We’re still writing the same music – I still write the songs in my bedroom in Athy, Jimmy still produces them…in his bedroom. It’s always going to stay like that, as long as physically possible.
So your song “Take My Hand” is certified gold in Ireland and currently has more than 2 million Spotify spins and a few million more over at YouTube – What does that feel like?
Jimmy: [exasperated exhale] I don’t know, its so hard…you can visualize these things when you’re playing gigs and you actually see a bunch of people – but it’s hard to look at a number at a screen and think that’s actually millions of people.
Does that number matter to you?
Ryan: It matters yeah, because we want people to listen to our music.
Jimmy: It matters a lot, it’s just hard to take in. It’s not like your being slapped in the face with it. It’s a weird feeling because you think you’ll never be in that situation and then when you are; you don’t know how to react because you never would think it could actually happen.
Let’s go back to the bedrooms back in Ireland; How did you start making music together?
Jimmy: It was through a song that Ryan put on the internet, I just saw it on his Facebook and I said let’s get to my studio and see what happens. We did the song, did some more songs…that’s how it’s always been and that’s how it still is. We had no intention of making a band; we were just bored and wanted to make music, so we did. The band came after when we realized that the songs are good.
Did you start gigging at local pubs at that point?
Ryan: No, we didn’t gig for about 6 months. Our first gig was actually at The Academy in Dublin, which is 800 capacity. We were the first ever band to sell it out for their debut show.
Jimmy: Our second gig was in London, which sold out. We’ve never played a gig that wasn’t packed, it’s amazing.
What did you grow up listening to, that may inspire or influence your sound today?
Ryan: I grew up on Brit-pop like Oasis, and Stone Roses before that and some hip-hop.
Jimmy: When I was very young it was Abba and Beatles from my sisters and then from my brothers it was Metallica and Queen. Listened to a lot of heavy-metal as a teenager, but then I heard John Mayer and dropped the heavy metal. Now it’s everything really.
Ryan: We influence each other a lot too.
Are there any bands in Ireland that we may have not heard of (here in the states) that you’re digging and listening to currently that also may inspire you?
Ryan: Have you heard of The Streets? Mike Skinner is a genius, it’s almost like spoken word, a bit grunge – he’d be a massive lyrical influence for me. His music is so conversational and so tangible through lyrics. You can almost like fuckin’ smell the situation from the lyrics.
In listening to your music, there’s an obvious storytelling flair within that is almost expected from the Irish – Is that something that comes from within or is that something you strive for that feeling of “smelling something?”
Ryan: It comes from within…I write songs based on my moods; like “Take My Hand” was written because I wanted to hear a song about summer romance. “You And I” was written because I had a hangover…I just want people to experience a mood…I know everyone in Ireland has had a hangover anyway….everyone has had a summer romance.
How long have you been writing songs?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was ten. I only wrote a song for the first time when I was 18, I only sang for the first time at the same age, when I realized I could actually sing and merged the two.
Having your EP released just late last year, are you working on the next batch of music yet?
Jimmy: Next batch is already recorded, it’s already finished!
Is there a working title – Is it another EP or full length?
Ryan: It’s a full album – not yet, it was recorded in Nashville at Blackbird Studios – just finished up last week.
Jimmy: Those songs have been with us before the start, even before we gigged. By the time we get home, there’ll probably be another album of songs ready to go…it’s just what we do, I don’t understand why other bands take years to write albums. If you can’t write an album naturally, you just don’t do it…the biggest bands in the world make the most music.
Since we are Pancakes And Whiskey we must ask; Do you have a favorite or preferred Whiskey?
Ryan: Jack Daniels’ is my favorite.
An American whiskey is your favorite…what would your grandfather say!?
Ryan: He’d be disgusted [more laughs] he drinks Paddy’s Whiskey.
Article/Photos: Shayne Hanley