When did you realise that your project/band had the potential to be a career, or long-lasting idea?
We, Picnic Lightning, formed in 2013, though a few of the buds had been in a band back in high school and college. Pretty quickly after joining forces, our mantra was solidified: let no one suffer, including ourselves. We each have pretty discerning ears, so when an idea or a song isn’t working, we acknowledge it and move one. Early on, we realized the four of us had something unique and that was captured on our Gilded Youth EP back in 2014. From there, the consistent positive feedback from various outlets affirmed we were on the right track.
When did the first glimpses of your latest release come together?
We’ve had a few of these songs in the mix for a while, fine tuning them live and in practice over the past 5-6 years. Once we got in the studio with our engineer and producer, Taylor Tatsch, he really understood the goal. The big dreaminess of the mood really started to shine once we got into his room. Over My head is a greamy, massive post-rock song soaked in harmonies. Our next release, Six Feet Under, has been around even longer and started out when Cam & Cole were messing around waiting for the others to set up for practice one day.
What really inspires your music?
We’re all creatives/artists in our own rights in different ways, but there’s nothing like playing music in a band. The communication needed is different than anything else and is an outlet that helps us to communicate things that can’t be done otherwise. Also, it’s just a lot of fun. Our ideas come from a variety of places. Our most recent release, Over My Head, originated from a poem written by Thomas at the guest services desk of a declining mall. The song is about how we all find bigger meaning – god, etc – in odd, singular places. It explores how we can find that same meaning in pleasure of sound, and a place where, as the lyrics mention, “me and the Holy Ghost are fucking around.” The forthcoming single, Six Feet Under, out July 8th, explores related themes – meaning, death, reflection, connection – places we feel at home.
Can you tell us a bit about the lyrical process for a song? How does it normally work?
We have a collaborative approach to songwriting, with some songs starting as a guitar riff, some as a (way too long) jam, one of Thomas’ poems, or even a drumbeat. We try to stay fairly judicious with the songwriting process, trimming as much fat as possible, and not shoehorning individual ideas just because we like them. We’re also open to rewriting songs we’ve played for years. The lyrics are almost exclusively inspired by Thomas’ poetry – published under the name T.K. Edmondson – though there are times we each pitch in to finish a verse or make a lyric work better.
What’s the most rewarding moment in your creative process as a band, and why?
Continuing to make music year after year is the accomplishment. To not get discouraged or fatigued, especially with COVID, is really a miracle. The business is unforgiving, the hours are long, and the creative process is an elusive ebb and flow, but there’s nothing else like it.
There was also a time we told John that we were going to play a show wearing formal wear and he showed up looking like a member of Party Down while we were in our usual garb. As always, he was a good sport about it.
Who produces your music, and what are they like to work with? (If you produce the music yourself, what do you love the most about working that way?)
The four of us are pretty involved in ensuring the songs still sound like us, but these newest singles really shine thanks to our producer Taylor Tatsch of Audiostyles Studio in the Texas Hill Country. Taylor is an accomplished musician and well respected engineer/producer. He’s got a great ear and he’s just so easy to work with. He pitches ideas, always working to capture the mood we’re working for, and doesn’t waste time. We highly recommend him!
Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your live show? Particular memories that stand out to you?
The time mentioned above with John in formal wear was pretty solid, but there are a few shows that stand out. Playing at a skate park in a middle of a half pipe had huge Tony-Hawk-Pro-Skater-vibes. One of our favorites will always be the second time around at the Boiled Owl – a local dive with a tiny makeshift stage in the corner. It was a sticky summer night with a rowdy wall to wall crowd, a great lineup, and good friends.
What advice would you give to another upcoming band/act?
Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s a creative outlet: be disciplined, and love the process. With that, don’t expect it to come easy: the creative journey winds to many places, most of them unexpected. Also, write intentionally. Write songs, sounds, lyrics, etc that only you can make. Think about what you want to say and then find the best way to say it, not the other way around. And trim the fat: the idea may be good, but putting it in the right place is what makes is great.
Lastly, find a band member who can fund the project.
And really lastly, always plug your band. Like this! We’ve got 2 singles out: Over My head is available everywhere and Six Feet Under is out on July 8th. We’ve got a few more after that for the remainder of the summer. We also have our back catalog on all platforms. Stream it everywhere and buy some merch from us here: Merch Link