Almost five years on since the release of their self-titled debut, Irish-pop band Picture This are back with their defiant third studio album Life In Colour.
Serving as the perfect post-2020 antidote, the quartet has offered up a rousing collection of uplifting and self-reflective songs, that can arguably be labelled as their strongest output yet.
At this milestone point in their career, we talk to the boys about what it’s like to record and release an album during a pandemic, how their sound has continued to evolve and the pressures that come from being in a band.
It’s been a crazy year – how has the last twelve months been?
Yes, it certainly has been a crazy year for everybody. I guess for us, it gave us a lot of time to create which we never really had before since starting the band. Since touring in 2016 we haven’t stopped, we’ve been on the road the whole time so every song that we’ve created has been done kind of on the fly, wherever we are with a remote studio setup, hotel rooms and stuff.
So these 12 months really gave us time to spend a bit longer just on working, which had its ups and its downs, but I guess that kind of sums up the last 12 months overall, it has crazy ups and crazy downs which life does anyway but it was certainly amplified by lockdown.
Have you found lockdown a creative experience or has it been a struggle?
Like I said it’s been both. It’s been creative in that it allowed us to explore a lot of different avenues for the band, in terms of everything, be that writing, production, working with people, and a lot of other outlets, so it was definitely creative that way. Was it a struggle? Probably at times I guess, because as the writer of our songs I rely on different kinds of visual stimulation and meeting new people, being in new cities all the time to inspire me and get my creative juices flowing, so not having that was kind of tough.
Congratulations on your most recent album Life On Colour. What would you say the main message of that album would be?
I think the main message is the word ‘defiance’. Because it’s definitely romantic and it’s personal, it’s everything. It’s a super uplifting album overall which was really important for us especially as we were releasing it in such a weird climate and atmosphere. We wanted it to have a really uplifting message. But I would say it’s definitely romantic, self-reflecting, loving and personal.
What or who is the inspiration behind your sound?
We listen to lots of music from all different genres, I don’t think we could pin it to one person or one genre. We love everything from country to metal and everything in-between as a band. But we are a pop band, and we’re not afraid to call ourselves a pop band – there’s a weird stigma around pop when it comes to men, especially for some reason, which we’ve never understood. We love being a pop band and we’re inspired by everybody. We’re kind of inspired by classic bands, our favourites are Oasis, Queen, Metallica, The Beatles, all the classics. I think you’ll find that in our sound in terms of we love big anthemic songs, so I guess just classic bands really. Classic acts in general.
Do you think your sound has evolved since your first LP? If so, is evolving as a band always consciously on your mind or is it something that has happened naturally?
Yeah, we certainly have evolved since our first LP. Our first and second albums are very different from each other, and our third album is very different from our second album so we are evolving all the time. It's kind of a mix of a natural progression and a conscious decision because we don’t ever want to be pigeonholed as a band into one particular sound, like I say we’re a pop band which is a very broad spectrum of things that can be anything. You can kind of create any music, any sort of music just once, it has that pop sensibility. That’s why it was a big decision for us to not change our sound but progress our sound on the second album, so we weren’t going to be pigeonholed into the acoustic sound of the first album, even though we love it. We just want to have creative freedom, so we naturally just evolve because we’re evolving as people and the band is a reflection of our personal lives, it’s a mixture of a conscious decision to progress and just naturally evolving.
What does your songwriting process look like and what inspires you to write?
The songwriting process is quite simple, but I guess it changes a little bit. Usually, it’s me sitting down on an acoustic guitar writing the song from start to finish really. Then I kind of pass it over to Jimmy to produce it up, and I may come back once he’s done his production then we kind of get together at the end and put all the finishing touches on it. But sometimes it can be I come into the studio and we write together or a lot of the time I just sing unaccompanied into my phone on a voice note when I have an idea. I’m inspired just by my life and the people that I meet, the relationships that I have, and the things that I go through. That’s really inspiring to me. Real life, real people, but every song is a real happening of my life.
I imagine being in a band can have some internal and external pressures. How do you look after yourself mentally?
Yeah I guess it does. I think more internally than anything because we don’t really pay that much attention to external pressures, we pay more attention to the pressure we put on ourselves and one another. But I guess the key thing, especially during lockdown, was that I found a great sense of clarity in myself just by working on myself, figuring myself out and getting to know me. Now I have a greater sense of clarity which allows me to handle pressure better because I can acknowledge it clearer in my head, whether it’s a warranted pressure or not. We’re an open band, there’s a very open dialogue between us all where we can discuss, talk and speak freely without feeling like you’re going to offend or hurt someone’s feelings, we’re all very equal as people, and that allows an ease of pressure. Then externally, of course, there’s pressure from the industry, the label and management, but that’s all just par for the course and doesn’t tend to affect us so much.
What are you working on next? Can we expect some live shows soon?
Yes, we are touring the UK in October, we’re playing Brixton Academy in London which is unbelievable, and super exciting. Crazy to think that our first show in London was in the Waiting Rooms, 200 people and now we’re playing Brixton Academy in such a short space of time and making that jump, especially for an Irish band, not being UK natives. Then, we’re working on the next album, we always are. We were working on this album before the third album was released, we’re usually an album ahead. We’re doing lots of writing with other artists and for them, there are a few personal projects I’m working on including a poetry book in September...I think we’ll be coming back with new music sooner than people expect.
Life In Colour is out now
Photographer Christian Tierney
Interview by Joshua Evans