Alternative rockers The Picturebooks are touring this month, but not in the way you might expect. The duo are on the road with their latest record Home Is A Heartache but rather than jump on a tour bus, they're marrying their music to their love of motorcycles and using two wheels to make it happen. AXS conducted an email interview with the band to talk about how they do many things by the seat of their pants and how they don't even consider themselves a band. Their latest music video is also available by using the media player included with this article.
AXS: How did you two come together as The Picturebooks to begin with?
The Picturebooks (TP): Music has always been a huge part of our lives. Fynn basically grew up in a tour bus. His dad was in a couple of pretty successful bands and he always took him with him. We've never learned how to play an instrument though. We started playing music with the band. It was a nice creative output that felt right. Fynn can't play a chord to this day and Philipp’s approach to how he plays drums might seem a little odd or even wrong, but feels and sounds right to us. Being from a small town where nothing is going on and pretty much being the only two dudes in the skatepark that were into the stuff made us click super fast. We listened to the same kind of music, loved to watch Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch movies. We just started The Picturebooks someday out of nowhere.
AXS: It seems to have paid off for you. Do you take the same approach in the studio?
TP: We're not the typical "let's jam out" band. Really, we never do that. Most of the time we talk about visuals, feelings, sounds that we want to hear, feel and even see when we're playing the song. Philipp doesn't use any cymbals on his drum set. We use a lot of self-made percussions and stuff that we built ourselves, or some of them were given to us by Native American friends on our US tours, that they themselves or their tribe built. We love this kind of stuff. In the studio, we try not to force creativity. We sometimes just hang out, skate the ramp outside the studio, repair some stuff on our choppers and all of the sudden there is a melody, mood that you wanna get on the record. Then we just hit record and go for it. Most of the stuff we record is improvised. Especially the lyrics. Which seems as honest as it can be because you can’t fake it. This is how songs like "Zero F--ks Given" or "On These Roads I'll Die" came across. It's just somewhere in your head and it just pours out.
AXS: Explain the idea behind this tour, because it's definitely different.
TP: We will do all of the touring this summer on our bikes that we got from Harley-Davidson and customized together with Thunderbike Customs into full blown old school choppers. We're combining both of our worlds together this way and love it. None of us is or wants to be in another band. We don't even look at us as a band. We're just best friends that enjoy doing what they love to do and love traveling. We're just so thankful that we can do this. We've been working on this for over a decade and appreciate every day we're on tour.
AXS: What's the message you want The Picturebooks fans to take away from the new record?
TP: There's always a personal message behind every song. A song like "Inner Demons" is about Fynn's panic attacks that he developed during touring for three years straight. Although there are no lyrics in the song we feel like it totally comes across what we mean. The panic attacks came out of nowhere, white and slow and became more and more, and louder and louder till they peaked in total chaos and pure fear and slowly went away again. Maybe people that listen to this that struggle with the same problem feel that too and hopefully feel like they're not alone out there. We also like to leave some meanings behind the songs open, like in the song "I Need That Oooh," where "oooh" can be everything for everyone.
Below are The Picturebooks' upcoming tour dates:
June 17 - Albuquerque, NM - Moonlight Lounge
June 18 - Dallas, TX - Gas Monkey Bar and Grill
June 19 - San Antonio, TX - Alamo City Music Hall
June 20 - El Paso, TX - Lowbrow Palace
June 21 - Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar
June 23 - Long Beach, CA - Alex's Bar
Home Is A Heartache is now available on iTunes.
For more on The Picturebooks, visit their band page at AXS.