Interview: Picture This

On 21st September, Irish band Picture This played an intimate gig in none other than The Europa, Belfast. Only 50 people were in attendance and according to their social media platforms, demand for this prize was astoundingly high. Before they graced the stage for the people of Belfast, Jimmy and Ryan took the time to chat to Gigging NI writer, Chantelle to discuss their musical influences and moments that got them to this level of success.

GNI: When you guys started out not that long ago , did you ever dream that you’d be playing these huge shows across the UK?

Jimmy: We dreamed about it but we never thought it would happen. I think everyone dreams of it but when it happens you’re kind of like… you know it’s scary like. It’s amazing. It’s like you just take it in your stride and yeah it’s crazy. It’s kind of hard to realise sometimes… Sometimes you get moments when you’re like ‘Oh my God’.

GNI: Do you still like playing the smaller gigs though?

Ryan: We enjoy all types of gigs but the I prefer the bigger gigs. Smaller gigs are great too though. That’s why we’re doing the likes of things tonight. The bigger gigs give a better buzz.

Jimmy: Yeah and you can get away with more stuff with the bigger gigs. It’s just a big atmosphere and party kind of mood and everyone’s there and heightened with excitement.

GNI: Your success is obviously undeniable. Is this something that you’ve both always wanted/worked for or was it more a natural progression?

Jimmy: We worked very very hard without realising that it would… I know it’s a stupid thing to say but we worked extremely hard and when it all started materialising you’re like woah that worked.

Ryan: We were working hard but we didn’t know what we were working towards. We were just making music because we loved doing it.

Jimmy: We just love making music, it was good fun then it just exploded.

GNI: Your songs are some of the most recognisable on the radio at the moment. Do your songs come pretty naturally or do you sit down and think ‘right I’m going to write this song’?

Ryan: No, it’s the exact opposite of that actually I think that’s why it connects. I’ll happen to pick up the guitar in my bedroom and I’ll just start playing chords or whatever and a song will just come. I do the chords and lyrics kind of at the same time. Sometimes it’s a lyric first then I’ll pick up the guitar . I just have notes on my phone full of lyrics – it’s all pretty spontaneous. It’s a very separate writing process though. I’ll write the song lyrically and the chords and the melody and then I’ll send it to Jimmy on Facebook Messenger and he’ll produce it. Jimmy has his own studio and he’ll turn it into the big song that it is then we’ll come together at the end and put the finishing touches on it.

GNI: Leading on from the last question, what artists have been the main inspiration for your songs? Both lyrically and instrumentally.

Ryan: Oasis would be my big one. I love Liam Gallagher’s new stuff as well.

Jimmy: I have weird musical influences like Owl City and recently I do like a lot of country like Rascal Flatts, Jake Owen. Jake Owen is one of my favourite artists.

GNI: Would you ever get your lyrical influence from poets or would it mainly be musicians?

Ryan: I would be more influenced by poets than I would be by musicians. John Cooper Clarke is my favourite poet. Sylvia Plath, I love Sylvia Plath. I started writing poetry from the age of seven, I was never really into music. Then I had to sing for an exam in school and sort of married the poetry and singing together.

GNI: How does playing in small venues in Ireland compare to playing the likes of venues in say America or Europe?

Ryan: The fans are completely different, it’s crazy. I would never have expected that before I would have thought they’d all be kind of the same no matter where you go but Ireland and the UK are quite similar. They’re very kind of rowdy and up for everything it’s almost like going to a football match. Which I love, I love a rowdy crowd I have to say. Then we supported Niall Horan in Sweden recently and they were the best crowd we ever played to, they were crazy. They were so attentive but so wild at the same time. They were so European, they were clapping perfectly in time. They were so nice; it was a seated gig and they were giving us standing ovations after every song. The whole PA system cut out so I had to play a song, just an acoustic song “Jane”, and there were 4000 people in the room but you couldn’t hear a pin drop.

GNI: Has there been a standout moment in your career that made you stand back and think wow, this is it?

Ryan: There’s been lots of standout moments.

Jimmy: I think everytime you have a standout moment it’s surpassed by something else.

Ryan: I think Playing Electric Picnic was a big one for us. It’s a part of growing up where we come from. Our whole lives we hear of people going to it. I went for the first time the year before we played and it’s a big part of the culture where we’re from so it was like a hometown gig. We played in a tent that holds like 5000 people but there were like 11’000 people there or something crazy. For me that was a big standout moment.

Jimmy: We played a hometown gig too in Ethy, a free gig to 5000 people. It was an outdoor gig too. It’s so hard though to choose one standout moment. You always dream you’d do these big things and it’s so hard to soak it in when you’re there because you’re hyper aware. I find I’m on overload when I’m playing these gigs; it’s not until you’re at home on your own lying on your bed – that’s when it hits you.

Ryan: Supporting The 1975 was pretty big too. Seeing them in general. They’re our favourite band.

See Picture This at the SSE Arena, Belfast on 27th October – more info here.