Sean had the opportunity to speak with chart-topping Irish act Picture This last Thursday at The Europa Hotel ahead of their headline show in association with Aiken Promotions at the SSE Arena, Belfast on 27th October 2017. Better still, Steven and Matthew got invited to attend their excellent super-secret intimate show for super fans and press later that evening. We’d like to extend a big thank you to the team at Aiken Promotions for having us down!
We’re here today in the Europa Hotel with Ryan and Jimmy from Picture This ahead of an intimate show they’ll be playing downstairs later on tonight. So lads, you’ve had a busy last couple of months: your Debut album was recently released and went to number 1, you’re coming off a headline tour of North America, a few support appearances for Niall Horan’s European Tour, millions of shows big and small throughout 2017 and tonight you’re in Belfast to play this small show in the Europa. How you guys feeling about the gig?
Ryan Hennessy: Good. We don’t really know much about this, to be honest with you.
Jimmy Rainsford: We’re a bit on edge. We don’t know what’s going to happen or who’s going to be there.
R: Gigs like this are just weird. We love doing them though. We did a couple in Dublin and Cork because we’re mostly playing all these big shows that are selling out and this gives us the chance to play the album for people in an intimate setting.
Yeah, I noticed that you have been doing these kind of shows frequently. What appeals to you about small intimate shows like this?
J: It gives our fans to see us in a small venue. It’s really for the super fans who are very supportive of us. It’s good to put these things on for them as a thank you to them. They get to see us at the arena shows but they can be very far away but this gives those hardcore followers a chance to see us up close in a ‘pre-arena’ type setting.
It’s nice to see you putting something like this for the fans. Today you play for the Belfast fanbase who you saw quite recently when you were supporting The 1975 at Belsonic in June. How important is Belfast to you guys, in terms of your fan base and as a city to play in?
R: It’s a very important place for us, a lot of bands forget about Belfast. We have done these intimate show in a few different places and we couldn’t not do one in Belfast because it’s so important to us. I’ll never forget the first gig we had here in Mandela Hall. We were coming up from the south not knowing a thing about Belfast or if anyone would go to our gig but it sold out and the crowd were amazing, it was a really unforgettable night. Then we came up the second time to The Waterfront and that was incredible as well, an amazing venue. The crowds up here are amazing.
Now the next Belfast one is the big show in the SSE Arena at the end of October, are you looking forward to that one?
R: Yeah, that’s mental. can’t wait for that one it’s going to be great. That’s a really big place and I can’t wait to play it.
We’ve talked about you’re busy schedule already but how about the rest of 2017? What will you two be getting up to in the latter end of the year?
R: We’re busy right up until the middle of November. We’ll hopefully get christmas off, probably not though. There will probably still be a lot going on.
J: I’m really looking forward to working in the winter though. We’ve had a lot of hot climates this year. We were in Miami for a week and it was around 40 degrees, so yeah, we’ve had a lot of hot and now a bit of cold will be nice. Everything has really been building up to the arenas all year. It feels like the arenas will top off this crazy year, we’ve been everywhere all over the world and to be coming home to play arenas in Ireland, where it all started, will be fantastic.
It has been a great year for Picture This, the biggest thing has to be the debut album, it skyrocketed to number 1, has seen some of its singles reach some of your best chart positions YET, I’m sure you’re both chuffed with that. How far back did that project start?
R: We recorded it in Nashville in February but it’s a collection of songs we have had written since the band began. We didn’t go to the studio to write the songs, we went to Nashville with 15 songs and chose 13 of them. It’s been a long time coming, we wanted to put out an album from day 1 of the band but we had to wait and build our fanbase and stuff. In the end, the recording process itself was very quick because we knew the songs so well. The longest part was having to wait to announce that we were releasing it and building it up.
It’s done very well and you mentioned that recording an album was something you wanted to do from the start. Was there other goals you had or any that have developed over your time with the band?
R: We’ve surpassed any goals we may have had at the start. We never expected to achieve anything close to what we have achieved so far. We were always confident in our music but didn’t expect this at all. This rarely happens to bands like us and we are very lucky to have been so successful with our music.
J: We were just making music at the start and didn’t think about any real goals to begin with. Obviously, there are things you want to do but there was no point that we said we want to play here or do this etc. I know that once we step into places like the SSE though we are going to be like, woah!
Treason is a magazine designed to highlight emerging independent artists and to shed light on the local scene. Could you explain your journey from an emerging artist to where you are now?
R: We’re kind of a new breed, in the sense that we didn’t start playing small pubs and clubs and build it up over years. We’re kind of an overnight success and I don’t mind people calling us that, I know bands will hate that but that’s what we are. We achieved a lot very quickly but had to work very hard to do that. We put a song on Facebook and it blew up and got us a big fanbase from the minute go. We played our first show six months late in The Academy Dublin and were the first band to sell out their debut gig in there. We kept making milestones that we didn’t consider that could happen. We went to the olympia theatre and kept playing bigger gigs there and now to be doing a sold out arena tour of Ireland is crazy.
Lastly, I’d like to ask you if there are any emerging artist in Ireland, or maybe even Belfast for that matter, that you are particularly interested in or are excited about?
R: The Academic are great, I really like them. They have been going around even longer than us. Catherine McGrath is amazing too and I think she is from Northern Ireland. She supported us on our last tour and she’s going to support us again in the UK. She is like a country/pop singer.
J: Catherine is so good, I heard one of her songs ‘Homegrown Hero’ on Today FM driving to Dublin one day and I thought, there is no way she’s from Ireland but to think she’s from here is crazy. She is definitely one of our favourite Irish artists. There are a lot of bands but there aren’t a lot of great ones. I think the radio now is shite, there aren’t enough bands on it and bands that have been around for a while are now trying to change their sound to be like the electronic acts on the radio. It’s great to be an electronic artist to begin with if that’s what you want to do but I don’t like the idea of bands changing their style just to fit in. Ireland’s known for exporting the best band in the world like Thin Lizzy and U2 so I think there’s a void there for more band to make something special. I think we are an example of ordinary lads that played what we wanted to play and were successful so I don’t think any band out there should give up on trying to do the same thing.
R: I’m really excited about Snow Patrol releasing new music in 2018 as well. I’m a big Snow Patrol fan, class band.
It seems that Picture This are filling that void you were talking about at the minute, Jimmy. Thanks for the chat guys!
J: We’re trying to. Thanks for talking to us Seán.
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