Picture this: Two young barely 20-something lads from Athy, Co. Kildare Ireland form a band in October 2015, book their debut live gig for early 2016, sell it out to the point that it needs to be moved to a larger venue (which also sells out), have a video recorded on an iPhone for their debut single “Take My Hand” go massively viral, have their self-titled EP certified Gold, cross the pond to play the US for the first time performing at South By Southwest in Austin, TX with a few sold out headlining shows in the states sprinkled in, take time to record their upcoming debut album in Nashville, TN (due out on August 25th), prove themselves pretty good at the art of social media and are set to take the world by storm. It could happen, yes?
Of course, it could happen because it has happened to Ryan Hennessy (vox/guitar) and Jimmy Rainsford (drums) who, as the Irish alternative pop duo Picture This, we spoke to when they were in Los Angeles. A couple of takeaways from that chat: Ryan and Jimmy are more than just a couple of pretty faces, the Irish love a good story and Picture This is an instance where youth is definitely not wasted on the young.
High Voltage: For a band who’s barely two years old – you haven’t even hit your terrible two’s yet – you have come pretty far. How do you account for this kind of success in this short period of time?
Ryan Hennessy: Good songs. There’s lots of bands that just look really cool and social media is cool…
Jimmy Rainsford: That’s us, bud…
Ryan: But we look good, as well. Their songs are just a bit like, there’s nothing in them, you know? Our songs are just really good and then we use social media really well and I think…people kind of see that we’re genuine people. We’re not rock stars, we’re very tangible, you can talk to us whenever you want, but it comes down to good songs, I think.
Jimmy: What we concentrate most on.
HV: I think that’s a good point, because when I’m listening to your lyrics they’re very good pop song lyrics and they’re very warm lyrics, especially “Take My Hand.” And it sounds like a high school sweetheart song.
Jimmy: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is, yeah.
HV: So there you go. I’m also curious: you’re from Ireland – and there are so many good bands coming from your country. It seems like such a great scene where the music that comes from there seems so genuine, where emotion just pulls through. What is it about Ireland do you think that produces this culture of music?
Jimmy: I don’t know, like it’s been there since – if you think about Thin Lizzy, U2, you know…
Ryan: Even before that, like all the traditional Irish musicians. There’s a lot of yearning, a lot of pain, and a lot of love in the songs that we would listen to and our grandparents would listen to growing up. So it comes from there and just…Irish people just seem to be storytellers.
Jimmy: You can see when you’re even talking to an Irish person; it’s just captivating. Like, you only realize it when you’re abroad and you’re used to talking to people who aren’t from Ireland. Then when you meet an Irish person again, it’s just like an unspoken language. I think like Ryan said, we’re storytellers. We know how to get our point across very well in – sometimes – the most cleverest way, or the most sarcastic way, or the most direct way: an Irish person can tell you something and it comes through in the music. That’s what hits everyone in the ear and it’s like: “Oh my God, this is so emotional!”
HV: Now in the two years that you have been doing this, how much touring have you done? Like actual road work have you done?
Jimmy: We’ve done quite a bit for not being a band that long. Abroad, we haven’t done that much. We toured Ireland, we toured the UK. We’ve played shows in, where else…Dubai, Holland…
Ryan: Oh yeah, we played a festival in Holland in the Netherlands. We played two gigs in the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East, so yeah. Class, really cool.
HV: How do you find this weird country of ours?
Jimmy: I like it a lot more than I was expecting to like it.
Jimmy: ‘Cause I thought it was going to be very – I don’t mean that in a bad way – but I thought it was going to be very foreign to me, but just from television and media, in general, and social media. It’s just very familiar; everywhere I see what I kind of have already seen through a screen and I’m looking at it and it doesn’t hit me as much as I thought it was going to be.
So I actually like America a lot. I wasn’t expecting to like it, but I do.
HV: You’ve been doing really well, I’ve noticed, on social media, your PR team and doing the teasers and everything. It’s impressive, I was shocked when I found out you guys had only been really this band for a couple of years because it seems to be a well-oiled machine already.
Ryan: Meet our PR Team: It’s me and Jimmy.
HV: You guys are great.
Ryan: We have no outside influence, whatsoever. It’s me and Jimmy every single post. Everything we’ve ever done is…
Jimmy: Every music video, we even filmed ourselves.
Ryan: Yeah, Jimmy shoots the music videos and edits them.
HV: Why do you think you guys are so good at that? Is that just natural?
Jimmy: ‘Cause we just have common sense.
Ryan: Common sense, I think.
Jimmy: Like if I’m going to learn how to use that camera and I just spend time and learn it. Same with the recordings. We record our own music and we recorded our EP in my bedroom, basically, you know. Just because we just took time and I took my whole life learning how to record music and play music. I don’t know, when you’ve got nothing else, especially in Ireland when you’re in a small town and you’ve got no money and you’ve got nothing, you’ve got zero. You have to stand up for yourself and say, “I’m going to do it” and you just have to have confidence to be like, I don’t have to move to LA and record in the most incredible studio to make something sound amazing. I can do it at home if I have the right mindset. That’s the attitude that we take on everything, on our music videos, and everything.
We have something in our head, we can do it because we’ve got hands.
Ryan: And brains.
HV: It sounds like a song right there. Now you’ve accomplished so much in such a short time: What’s your next big goal?
Jimmy: Just get the album out there, for me anyway, and see what happens from there because that can open a lot of doors. Even the EP did that.
Ryan: It’ll be amazing. That’s going to be…yeah, you’re right; it’s exactly like that. The album comes out, we’re going to know exactly where we stand as a band, but we’re putting everything into it. We’re not doing it half-arsed; we’re going full on, you know.
On August 25th Picture This’ self-titled debut album gets released (out on Republic Records), followed by their first US headlining tour in September.
2017 HEADLINE TOUR DATES:
9/7 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry at The Fillmore
9/9 – Washington, D.C. @ The Rock and Roll Hotel
9/12 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
9/14 – Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
9/16 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern
9/19 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
9/21 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop