„Don’t Overthink It!” – The Picturebooks interview
Choppers, pussies, endless highways and raw, visceral rock ‘n’ roll – The Picturebooks are the Americana feeling themself. Four years ago, they Artificial Tears album was welcomed equally enthusiastic by the critics, the audience of Sziget Festival (the band played at A38 Stage) and the fans of dirty, blues-based rock ‘n’ roll. Now, the new album, entitled Imaginary Horse, is here, so is an other concert in Hungary: the band will play on the fifth of November before Kadavar at A38 Ship, (one can buy combined ticket for the gig, which is valid for the concert of Airbourne as well, one week later). We talked to the members of The Picturebooks about the benefits of DIY-mentality, their home studio, and the musicians also unfolded which is the best musical style for skateboarding.
You’ve already played in Hungary, at Sziget festival four years ago. Do you have any special memories about that gig?
Oh yeah. A lot actually. First of all we were super excited to play this huge and awesome festival. It was a pretty packe show when we played the tent stage. Fynn got electo shocks when he got in touch with his microphone. It was crazy and painful.
What’s the story behind the band’s name?
We had only played together for a short amount of time and were asked to play a show,
So we had to think up a name real quick. The Picturebooks was the first name that came to our mind. We thought we´ll only use it for that one show but started liking it and stuck with it…
You’ve said about your forthcoming album, Imaginary Horse that it has it’s very own characteristic sound. How would you describe that? Tell us about the studio where you’ve recorded Imaginary Horse.
Well, we recorded the album in our Motorcycle garage where we build choppers and hang out with our friends a lot. We even built a miniramp outside so we can skate whenever we want to between the recording sessions. We recorded the album at our very own studio/garage for month on end, day and night, trying hard to find our very own sound, questioning everything we had done before, reinventing ourselves without boundaries, not knowing if the album will ever see the light of day or wether anyone would like it or not…we had deliberately not listened
to other people´s music during the making of the album, so that we would not be influenced by anyone or anything other than ourselves. we had not talked to record-companies or booking agencies during that time as well, i guess you could say we kind of retrieved ourselves from the „normal” world to work on the album.
We realized that being in a studio gives you the opportunity to do everything you want and that can kill creativity. So we had to throw away as much as we could to get the rawest result out of it by geting rid off the cymbals and all the effect pedals for the guitar and the way you usually microphone everything and all that stuff… We´ve had enough! We bought the biggest drums that we could find and even built our own instruments and didn´t use normal drumsticks but Mallets instead, used a lot of sleigh bells, tambourines and other crazy percussions. The guitar that fynn plays is a realy old GIBSON ES 125 that he bought in a tiny music store in los angeles through a self made Combo. Everything was recorded with Two microphones 5 meters away from us to catch that unique reverby sound that our garage has.
What’s your method of capturing the very raw, rich and rich energy of rock ‘n’ roll? Is it hard for you to stick to it’s essence?
Don’t overthink it.
There seems to be a kind of DIY-approach attached to everything you do – you customize your own choppers and bike, you constructed your own instruments and so on. Is it a concious decision or it’s about fully realising your ideas?
Yes of course. We do everything ourselves, the music, the recordings, the photos, the videos, the website, social media, drive the van, sell the merch, load in, load out… we don´t trust anyone in this buisness. when we do it on our own, we know it´s done the way we want it to be done.
Apart from bands and extreme sports, your whole image seems to be inspired by the old Americana style of life – what do you think about it?
Well we hang out in the states a lot. We have a lot friends there through skateboarding, choppers and music. So we guess we kinda got inspired by it a lot. Espacially the desert. Songs like PCH-Diamond pretty much describe what we experienced on our stay in Huntington Beach – California.
It seems like that there is a crazy story behind every song’s lyrics – any recent, fucked up thing that happened with you that might make it to the lyric of a new song?
Most of the lyrics are improvised. again i try not to overthink it.
You are really into skateboarding; which are the best songs to skate to?
Minor Threat, The Smiths, The Distillers, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Surf Music… Everything that pushes you!
Rob Halford of Judas Priest sometimes went on stage on a chopper – you never thought about doing the same thing?