NE HOT SEAT: PICNIC
This week we’re back with our artist insight feature ‘NE Hot Seat’ – where we sit down with some of the North East’s brightest talent on a monthly basis, shine a spotlight on their latest work and find out what they have planned next.
Next up we have Sunderland’s finest unashamed indie poppers PICNIC. Their latest single ‘Famous’ is out now – coming from a place of frustration, and a sense of the grass being greener on the other side. We had a chat with Eddie from PICNIC about their journey so far and what’s coming up next!
Tell us about PICNIC’s musical journey so far.
We got together in late 2015 and started gigging early the following year. I (Eddie) had a few songs that I’d been writing and liked the idea of starting up a funky, upbeat pop band with a horn section to play them. Most of us were studying music at Sunderland College/Uni at the time, with the exception of our drummer Matty whom I’d come across playing in his previous band “The Montagues”, I basically poached him for this project and he’s been with us ever since! We’ve had a few line-up changes since then, we’re now down to four of the core 7 members.
We’ve definitely all had some really cool experiences that we wouldn’t have had without this band, performing with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and members of the Royal Family, both pretty odd ones. We’ve seen the darker side of the industry too but looking back I think we’d all agree the good outweighs the bad!
Can you tell us about your latest release ‘Famous’?
I wrote this song a while ago, I think the original demo is at least 5 years old. We wanted to release it around that time but were advised against it and sort of nudged towards a more “commercial” sound that could potentially fit into playlists etc. a bit easier, so Famous was resigned to the vault. Over lockdown we decided to walk away from the development/distribution deal we had, effectively putting us back to square one, but once the dust settled, we decided to reflect on where we were and started listening back through some of our older demos, Famous being one that we ultimately decided to give another shot.
This feels like an important release for us as it’s a song that we’re releasing simply because we love it, not because we think it will do particularly well in certain areas or to please other people. It sounds like the PICNIC that we set out to be back in 2015, just fun. Lyrically it came from a place of frustration, I wrote it from the perspective of somebody who would do almost anything to be famous and get out of the situation that they’re in, despite this person being quite flippant about the real side effects and realities of life in the public eye. It was just an exaggerated take on what I was feeling at that moment, but I do remember not particularly liking the perspective I was writing from at the time. I was also pretty annoyed when I heard that Kim and Kanye split-up before we got the chance to release it, I guess that’s the risk you take with pop culture references.
As a six-piece band how do you approach song writing?
As alluded to, I do the majority of the songwriting for PICNIC. Usually I’ll bring a song into practice almost fully formed, or so I think, and present it to the band to jam through and give their feedback; I usually know pretty quickly whether or not the band are feeling it. If they’re not, the song is a non-starter, no matter how I may have felt about it prior. Over the years this process has definitely become more collaborative, mostly when it comes to structural changes or bridge sections. Everyone in the band knows their theory and how to craft a song so I’m always grateful for suggestions.
What inspires PICNIC’s energetic style?
We’ve always put most of our energy and focus into being a live band, the whole catalyst for starting PICNIC was to provide some colour and positivity to the local scene. Nowadays there are so many amazing, energetic live bands coming out of the North-East but when we first started out we didn’t find that to be the case. We wanted the songs to be fun to play, fun to listen to and easy to sing and dance to. We’ve tried not to stray too far from that ethos. Over the years we’ve struggled to match the energy from our live performances in our recordings, but I think this next batch of releases is a step in the right direction in that regard. I truly hope so anyway, as I think we’re all pretty sick of hearing “you guys are so good live, I had a listen to your tunes and they weren’t really for me, but that was great!”
What else can we expect from PICNIC in the future?
More releases. We’ve recorded a few more songs that we all love and are going to put them out in the new year. Hopefully that will lead to some more festival dates and more opportunities to play to new audiences. I think we’ve all agreed that we’re too good at what we do, and have too much fun doing it, to hang up our boots just yet. When it stops being fun, we’ll stop.
You’re off to a picnic tomorrow. What food you bringing with you?
Eddie – Victoria sponge cake
Robyn – Quorn sausage rolls
Olive – “Well obviously sandwiches, because I like sandwiches”
Matty – Crisps and dips
Kris – Dark fruits
Calum – Cadbury’s mini rolls
Check out PICNIC’s playlist of their top 10 favourite tracks to come out of the North East right now!
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