Picture This

Responding to fan questions posed by our VERO followers, the Irish alt-rock band open up about life on tour and their latest album. 

One of Ireland’s biggest musical exports, County Kildare rock quartet Picture This have united a community of music aficionados with their authentic passion for their craft and natural charisma. With latest album Life in Colour, they amped up their sound to a whole other level – and snagged a Number 2 slot in the Irish charts in the process. As they gear up for their UK-wide tour, HUNGER slid lead singer Ryan burning questions submitted by Picture This fans via our VERO channels.

Scroll down to read all about life on tour, weekday musical motivation and Ryan’s guilty pleasure tv…

What’s the biggest thing you learned in the past year?

I learnt a lot about myself, personally. It’s the first time I’ve ever had time for self-reflection because we’ve just been so busy as a band, and yeah kind of improved my life. I just got to know myself. I learned a lot about myself, I don’t know what specifically I could say. But, I learned a lot. We’ve all got a newfound sense of gratitude for everything, especially in terms of being in a band, having loyal fans, that’s not something we ever took for granted but we’ve got a new found gratitude for that because we’ve missed them so much.


How has your working dynamic changed since you first formed?

It hasn’t changed that much to be honest. In the beginning I would have just written the song from start to finish on an acoustic guitar in my bedroom, then I would have brought it to Jimmy who would have produced it up. And that’s kind of still what happens. But then there is sometimes where we’ll go to the studio together and write from scratch in the same room, or he’ll send me music and I’ll write to that, so I guess it’s changed slightly but not really. It’s still pretty much the same kind of pure form of expression that it was in the beginning.


What do you hope fans took away from Life in Colour?

I guess the aim was for fans to walk away feeling uplifted, that was the overall feeling we wanted to get across on the record. We tried not to be too reflective of the time, and I mean that when I’m talking about the positivity, but the world just kind of needed it and our record just happened to be of a euphoric, uplifting, coming of age feeling. So I hope a few people went away feeling uplifted and inspired in some way. If even one person listened to the album and thought ‘maybe I could be in a band or write my own music’ then that’s job done!


During the pandemic what did you miss most about playing live?

I missed the communal, carnal feeling of being in a room with thousands of people and all just going for it and letting loose and expressing and everybody doing it in their own way – us on stage and everyone in the crowd. I just missed that energy and the buzz, I guess connection is the best way to sum that up. I missed the connection with the people. There’s no greater feeling on planet earth for me than a room full of people singing a song I wrote back to me at the top of their lungs. You write a song for one reason, and people sing it back to you for a million different reasons. That’s the bread and butter of being in a band. I just missed that connection, the human connection and physical standing in front of people and having that tangible acceptance, I really missed that.

Who’s the funniest one in the band?

The funniest one in the band is Owen for sure. Owen is our guitar player, and if he wasn’t in the band we would have all gone insane by now. Owen is the comic relief on the tour bus, in hotels and backstage. He’s always doing something entertaining or crazy – it’s usually something mental actually.


If you were an animal which one would you be and why?

I believe I would be a chimpanzee. I’ve just always felt a connection, I know people talk about spirit animals and that but I’ve always felt connected to chimps. I don’t know why, I’ve always just loved them. And primates in general, I find them fascinating, I guess because of how human like they are. I just love them, they’re inquisitive, funny animals. Although I do wear a lot of leopard print…but I’d have to go with chimp.


What’s your best tour story?

One that I love was when we were playing the Bowery Ballroom in New York as part of an American tour, and as we were pulling up the venue we were in a bus that we had rented and Owen, our guitar player, was driving, and as he went to pull into the venue he clipped a wing mirror of a truck and it put in all the windows on the side of the van on top of all of us – the windows just shattered on us. We were on the side of a street in New York covered in glass, didn’t know what was going on, we jumped out of the van and were just looking at it in shock and horror. And then as if that wasn’t chaotic enough, and this was as were pulling up to bring in our gear and get ready for the gig, the singer from New Radicals just happened to be walking by randomly, and noticed that we were a band. We were all just picking up pieces of the van and the windows, and he came over and started pestering us like “What’s the name of your band? Who are you? Are you playing here tonight? Can I come to your show?”, asking a million questions, and we were so stressed out we just said yeah you can come to the show, what’s your name we’ll put you down on the guestlist. He gave us his name, and we put him down on the guestlist. And I forgot all about it and didn’t think anything of it after that but then I remember walking out on stage and he was the very person that I saw, he was front row. He was a tall guy, bald, and usually the front row is just girls. And he stood out so much, and he was so intense but so into the show, full of energy, loving every second of it. Somehow he ended up in our dressing room afterwards and got into an argument with a guy from our record label. I really liked that dude, I loved the chaos that he brought with him, he was a cool guy.


How about your Friday night anthem?

Off the top of my head…I’m more of a Friday at 1pm, Friday at 1pm is my favourite time of the week every week, no matter what. I just love that time, it feels like a great time. I think that’s because I used to finish school for the weekend at that time, I think that’s where that kind of serotonin boost comes from. So at that time my favourite song to listen to is “Too Experienced” by Barrington Levy, I don’t know why but that song just gets into my soul and I can’t help but dance. It’s one of those songs where I actually can’t help but dance when it comes on, I just can’t not move because it feels so amazing, so I would say my Friday afternoon anthem is Barrington Levy “Too Experienced”.


And your Monday morning motivation track?

I should probably start listening to music on Monday mornings because that would help but I don’t think I do. I would say “Cigarettes and Alcohol” by Oasis. I know most people would consider that their Friday night track, but for me I remember when I used to walk down and collect my dole on a Monday, I would always listen to Oasis just because they’re my favourite band. And that song, or else “Rock n Roll Star” gave me a spring in my step down the dole office.

Do you have any guilty pleasure favourite TV shows or movies?

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I don’t feel guilty for anything that gives me pleasure. But, I guess what other people would consider guilty pleasures for a 26 year old male frontman of a band would be Love Island, which I think is amazing television. And fair play to anybody who goes onto it, they get a lot of hate, but fair play to them because they’re going on and putting themselves out there. I’ll never knock that, and it’s amazing entertainment.  And they’ve featured our music in the last few series, so Love Island is a big one for me, I love it. I watch it religiously when it’s on. For a movie, I would say The Notebook. That movie is as close as I’ve ever come to crying at a movie. I don’t feel guilty for that.


What’s a surprising fact about you?

The first time I ever listened to U2 was in 2016, and that’s surprising because I’m Irish, and I’m a singer in a band, and it’s almost blasphemous that I had never listened to U2 as an Irish singer. I don’t think anybody else on our lovely island can relate to that, but yeah I just never listened to them until 2016. We were in Nashville recording our debut album, and their song came on in the Jeep, we were just driving home from the studio. I think it was “Where The Streets Have No Name”. And I was like, “What is this, it sounds fucking great!”’ and there was just silence in the car. They were like, “What are you talking about?” I had no idea what it was and it sounded amazing. They were stunned that I had never listened to U2 as an Irish person, and a music fan in general I guess. But I’ve been loving them ever since.


When was the last time you were star struck?

We’ve met some amazing people on our travels and we’ve had generally very good experiences with everybody we’ve met, they’ve all been really nice. The most start struck I’ve been was when I met the Class of ’92, I’m a massive Man United fan, all I cared about growing up was football and Man United, and my heroes growing up were like Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, and I met all of those guys at a charity event and had a great night out with them a few years back. I’ve had experiences with fans of the band where they come up and are shaking and nervous, and on the verge of tears, and I never really understood that feeling until I watched all of my favourite football players walk into the hotel lobby where the event was on, and I felt my legs get weak because I was so nervous and couldn’t believe they were there.


What’s next for you?

A lot! We just have so much planned – we never stop making music so next for us is our UK tour, that’s about to happen, then we’ve got some shows back in Ireland leading up to Christmas, so that’s it on the show front. And then we will be making music, loads and loads of music, that’s all we do all day every day. More music, then hopefully next year more shows and we usually have a few other surprises up our sleeves that are a bit off the beaten track, and there’ll be more of that too.


Picture This’s UK tour begins Oct 6 in Nottingham, the London show is at the O2 Academy Brixton on 14 October.

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Christian Tierney