With their third album on the horizon, Picture This are back with new track “Things Are Different”.
Picture This are gearing up to take the world by storm for a second time after dropping news of their highly-anticipated third studio album. The Irish supergroup have been hard at work over the past few lockdowns, waiting patiently, or rather, impatiently, to get back on the road and do what they love best – touring.
Since releasing their self-titled 2017 debut, Ryan, Owen, Jimmy & Cliff have amassed over 300 million streams worldwide, attracting fans from across the globe with their euphoric pop-rock tunes and wholly immersive lyricism. Over the past few years they’ve sold out arenas and breaking the internet several times over, but the outbreak of Covid forced the foursome into a much-needed hiatus, during which they took to the studio. Now, announcing their return to the musical fore with new single “Things Are Different”, the boys are back for good, and they’re pretty excited about it.
“A lot of things are different in the world we live in right now, but what will never change no matter what the circumstances are our morals, our passions, our beliefs and who we are as people,” says frontman Ryan Hennessy. “We now as a civilisation have to pick up where we left off and step into a new world with love and compassion in our hearts, both for ourselves and for those around us.”
As they’ll be leading the way for our new world, we decided to catch up with the band below, talking musical heroes and what may await us on their forthcoming record.
Hi guys – how have you been during this uncertain time? Ryan: We’ve been doing whatever we can… we’ve had plenty of time to create music. It’s kind of the first time we’ve been able to stop because we started the band in 2015 and toured from 2016 right up until the pandemic on lots of different tours all around the world. We never stopped since we started. This is the first time we’ve been forced to do so, and it’s given us lots of time to work on music – we have so much music coming. Usually, we’d work on the road a lot, but we’ve had so much space and time for the first time ever, but we can’t wait to get back on the road at the same time.
How has lockdown/the situation impacted your music and creativity? Ryan: I think it’s just space and time really. Jimmy: It’s given us a different perspective on who we are and in a good way like Ryan was saying, it’s a welcome break to be able to take a minute and plan. But now we’re dying to get back, we’ve planned enough!
Where are you from in Ireland, and how has this influenced you sonically? Ryan: We’re from a town called Athy, in county Kildare just outside Dublin. I don’t know how it influenced us sonically, but it definitely influenced my songwriting, especially our debut album, which is all about our life growing up in Ath – and all of the numerous experiences I had there. Jimmy: I think the main thing to remember is we’re from Ireland – the only other English-speaking country in Europe. So, we share a lot of our culture with the UK and America. We’re very heavily influenced by those big pop bands. I think it was just wanting to be on that kind of level and produce music to that standard. It doesn’t matter where we’re from, I think that had something to do with it, we had something to prove. It doesn’t matter that we’re from Ireland, we can still be on that high level.
Who are your musical heroes? Ryan: My musical heroes are Oasis, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays – the whole Brit Pop/Madchester thing whatever you wanna call it. And also, Biggie Small and The Streets. Kind of a mix of classic rock bands and Hip-Hop. Which I don’t think really translates across into our music, which is very different…but I guess that’s where I learned big choruses, and big sing-along anthemic songs. In terms of Biggie and The Streets, I learned tangible lyrics where you’re painting the picture in someone’s head, each song is like a movie. Jimmy: Classic bands… Beatles, Queen, Metallica. It’s important for us, I think, to be fans of those bands, we were never really into things that were off the mainstream track.
How did you all meet and form Picture This, and why that name? Ryan: Jimmy, Owen and Cliff grew up together, knew each other and played in bands over the years together. I just came in at the last minute and stole the spotlight! Came in and took credit for it all. I knew of Jimmy, and Jimmy knew of me through school. I’d heard of him being this amazing drummer and musician and I guess he knew of me somehow…for being cool. I posted a song on Facebook at the time, which was our first song “Take My Hand” and Jimmy came across that and I guess you discovered I could sing and were kind of shocked by that… Jimmy: Yeah, he was like…not a singer. All my friends were musician friends, and we all think we’re great at music and whatever…and then he comes along with an amazing voice. Completely different friend group, completely different everything. I just found that fascinating. I wanted to get into producing music and felt like this was my golden ticket. I asked Ryan to start a band and produce one of the songs I saw him posted on Facebook and that was it. After that, it was just all go…
Congratulations on your new song “Things Are Different” which you’ve described as a love song to the world – how did lockdown inspire this song? Ryan: It’s a different song for us lyrically and sonically, because most of the songs are about relationships, ex girlfriends, possible future girlfriends and my experiences with love. And this is no different in that it is a love song, but it’s for the world. I wrote the song in September 2020, which was a really weird time. Everything was up in the air and I felt like there was so much anxiety around, rightfully so from everybody. I felt like it was time to write and put out a song that has a positive and uplifting message saying there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what happens in these weird, fucked up times everything will come back eventually. Nothing will change in terms of our relationships as humans, as people.
You guys are gearing up to release your third studio album, what can you tell us about it? And how does it differ from what you’ve done before? Jimmy: We’re gearing up to release it this year, for sure – finally! This album has been in the making for quite a while. We’ve gone through so many songs and so many different things. It doesn’t necessarily differ from what we’ve done, I suppose its just an exaggerated version of who we are again. It’s a lot more song driven – that’s something I think is our biggest asset, and something that a lot of people don’t necessarily have, because we have an amazing songwriter in Ryan. And great stories and a great voice. I think it showcases a lot in this album – I can’t wait for people to hear all these stories.
You’ve talked about how previously your songs were inspired by personal experiences, but this time, you want to give something back with your music – would you talk a little bit about this? Ryan: I guess the thing about “Things Are Different” for example, is that I’m almost speaking for everybody without having everybody’s permission. It’s kind of the first time we’ve done social commentary in music, because every other song has just been my experiences of growing up and getting into relationships and getting into trouble and all of these things. It’s the first time we’ve stepped into that role and it was an important time to do it. It would be remiss of us and of me as a songwriter to not comment on what’s going on in the world because even though you don’t sign up to be in a band to be a role model, it’s not something I’d ever had any desire to be, I’m also aware that I am, and we are. So, you have to take the responsibility whether you like it or not.
You’ve amassed nearly 300 million streams since your debut back in 2017 – did you ever expect you would achieve such explosive success? Ryan: I personally didn’t, I know you were more confident in the beginning… Jimmy: Before the band started, I had been looking for a band to produce and push. And I knew, this might sound big-headed or whatever, that Ryan was going to be successful in music. I knew once the band started, and we put out music, that it was going to go like it did. This was going to work and be a career for us. I suppose you have dreams of being huge and whatever but when you say 300million streams that’s something you can never really guess or say we’re going to get to that point. That’s amazing to say – it’s only been a few years we’ve been putting out music really, and it’s up to that point already is crazy. We have such a loyal fan base as well which is so important to us, we’re not a band who have one hit and go away, we’ve got a great fan base and we can put on live shows. You’ll never know what the future holds when you’re in a band.
Headlining the likes of O2 Shepherd’s Bush London, SSE Arena Belfast and selling out 3Arena five times are incredible achievements – what would you say your biggest pinch-me moment so far is? Ryan: I think for me, the five nights at the 3Arena, or headlining Electric Picnic here in Ireland. They were two crazy, crazy times. Five night in the 3Arena was insane because we were the first band to do it, sell out five nights there. Which was just crazy to me. It was scary. We put all the shows on at one time, usually people will put on two and hold two shows and do that kind of thing. We put on five shows at one time, and it sold out instantly. That whole week, I still think, was the great week of my life…probably all our lives. We invested so much into it. We create the production, the live production, and seeing that realised was amazing and just crazy. It really solidified us as a reputable band and a legacy band.
How has it felt not being able to play live and tour? Jimmy: It’s tough because when you’re in a band or a musician, you have a person, and part of your persona is playing live – it’s part of your personality, it’s what you live for and do. When that’s taken away, you lose a lot of yourself all of a sudden, and what you do. It’s someone doing anything throughout their life and then it gets taken away. You take it for granted when you have it, and then when it’s gone it’s just weird. Ryan: Yeah and I find when you’re touring, you’re getting instant gratification that what you’re doing is being received well. So, when you can’t tour, streams are one thing, but actually seeing people show up at a show it’s like okay we’re really doing this…people like us, we’re a real band. I think also for our audience and our fans it must be tough, because I see how much joy they get out of a show, just as much as us…probably more, so it must be really tough for them.
How have you been inventive or creative about getting your music out to your fans? Ryan: We started releasing music on Facebook, which makes us sound so old now, but that was in the early days. We’d post full official music videos direct to Facebook which nobody was really doing, which was such an important part of establishing us and getting us in peoples faces. We’ve tried to be inventive with social media cos that’s where we started. It’s a vehicle for getting out music to people. Jimmy: People actually speaking up about their band or a song. That’s how I found like 99% of bands or music I like, from people saying you have to go onto social media to listen to this song. That’s important to really get across to people, through social media, and have them talk about it.
How does it feel releasing new music when most of the world is in lockdown/everything feels so uncertain – what do you hope your music will bring? Ryan: It’s definitely weird because we’re used to releasing a song and we’d probably have a gig around the corner after the release. It’s always really exciting, to be like ‘I can’t wait to play this one live’. We’ve released quite a few songs during lockdown over the last year. It’s definitely a weird time to do it, but I hope the song brings light to people and positivity and hope.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021? Jimmy: What’s next for us is obviously new music. An album. We’ll be announcing gigs, because everyone is getting vaccinated and whatever and we’re going to get back to some kind of normal. We’ve got a lot of time to catch up on. A lot of shows to catch up on. A lot of music to catch up on. So that’s something this year that we really want to delve into and we’re figuring out now like how can we put out as much stuff out as possible without damaging our career. And gig as much as we can when it’s safe to do so. I think that’s something that everyone is ready to do. Expect the unexpected.