Pickwick aren't a band who are easily satiated. In the early days, the burgeoning group were yet another Wilco-derivative, alt country act from Seattle. Their sound was mediocre and no one came to the shows.
When they stopped caring about genre, it led to a stellar record of soul-injected pop, 2013's Can't Talk Medicine. And although that record, coupled with their intense, sweaty live performances, won the band many fans, they've since stripped the tracks and the well-received demos that preceded its release from their Bandcamp page.
It seems they just weren't content with the sounds of their low-fi soul and R&B. In fact, in the years between that debut and the impending LoveJoys—due out July 7—they recorded and discard a lot of, in their opinion, terrible music (including some 40 songs for a pop R&B record).
So, they went back to the basement where it all began and realized that all they really had to do was focus on having a good time.
“We rediscovered what we do best by not overthinking what we make, and learned to love the process of creating again,” vocalist Galen Disston explains. And "that's precisely when the sounds started pouring out. We got out of each other's way and each individual member was able to contribute what we each do best without obstruction or worry. We worked together, but this time it was to a more cohesive end without compromising what we each value as musicians."
Prince had recently passed so they delved into his sonic legacy and found a funkier sound. Plus, it helped that guitar player Michael Parker won the Washington State Lottery and bought himself some toys.
"It felt great, after years of self-imposed stagnation, we were able to enter in to the uncertain territory of submitting oneself to the process of writing a song," Disston continues. "It's a rare and scary thing; songwriting requires fully engaging in a process that is fluid and never identical. It's a science of continually entering into something unknown. And it's an incredible feeling when a song appears. It's fun."
After months of writing, Disston, Parker, keyboard player Cassady Lillstrom, bassist Garrett Parker, and drummer Alex Westcoat took their efforts to producer Erik Blood, known for his work with Shabazz Palaces, Tacocat and The Moondoggies. Blood picked things apart and "pushed us into a new and better sound," Disston says.
"'Lying Awake In The Dark' was the last song written before we went into the studio to record LoveJoys," Disston tells. "It was written the day before I believe, and I think it was only three of us messing with it. We had the skeleton of the three different parts including the ahhh part, which I love because it's perhaps the only part of the record where I hear our adoration of Tropicália seeping in."
Recorded at Blood's Black Space Labs (his home studio) and Chemical X Studios (located in the basement of The Old Rainier Brewery building in industrial SoDo) in February 2016, Blood shares his studio with Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces "and he brought in Alina To who I was familiar with from Grand Hallway [and also of Passenger String Quartet] to do the strings," Disston details. "The string parts, which were Blood's brainchild, really gave the song a '70s orchestral identity that I dig after devoting myself to Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On.' It was cool to be a part of such an amorphous idea of a song that became so substantial after strings were added. Then we recorded an octave of my vocals to try to further ground the trippy song, and then we had something that felt good to listen to when driving a long drive at night. That's when you know you have something."
As illustrated by the above process, Pickwick are not a band to repeat themselves. Resting on their laurels is simply not satisfactory—and not even remotely satisfying.
Case in point: "We've written most of the songs for the next record and I'm looking forward to making another record with Blood," Disston reveals. "It's where my head is at actually—as I do this musician thing long enough, I'm learning my passion may be in the writing and recording."
All that's to say, you should catch Pickwick now—while you can. Disston is an incendiary live performer and the band have a new record full of songs they're excited about. While LoveJoys is less gritty sounding than you might be used to from the five-piece, they'll be no less emphatic on stage.