Their EP, Picture This EP, debuted at number one on the Irish Albums Chart (Photo courtesy of Katia Tempkin)
The biggest selling Irish act in both 2017 and 2018 are hitting the road for their first ever North-American tour this month. Picture This is an alternative pop band from Ireland, consisting of songwriter, singer, and frontman, Ryan Hennessy, drummer Jimmy Rainsford, guitarist Owen Cardiff and bass player Cliff Deane.
The newly formed band has seen immense success, such as selling out the 3Arena in Dublin five nights in a row.
“It was an incredible week that we will absolutely never forget,” Hennessy said. “Four nights had been sold out before which was by U2, and the fifth night for us was so special just to know that [we] were standing on stage making history, being the first act ever to do something. It’s just an incredible feeling and you can sense it in the room. It’s five nights we will never forget and I’m grateful we got to do it.”
Picture This started with Hennessy and Rainsford when they met online. Rainsford was looking to start a band and came across Hennessy, seeing he was a singer.
“I asked Ryan if he wanted to start a band and then we needed to play live so I asked my two friends, Cliff and Owen, to join the band and it kind of just went from there,” said Hennessy.
When it came to naming the fledgling band, Rainsford brought Picture This to the table. His brother Rob had always said that [it] would be a cool name for a band. After going through a million other names, the four of them ended up going back to Picture This. Hennessy says that “it really suits the music because it’s very descriptive and very vivid in your mind when you listen to a song.”
In terms of songwriting, almost every song of theirs starts out with Hennessy writing lyrics and melody and singing them into his phone as a voice memo. He then sends it to Rainsford who turns it into an actual song and plays with it a bit. Then, they come together to add finishing touches and produce it. A lot of the songwriting process happens separately but is joined together when it is time to finish it.
Their self-titled debut album came out in 2017 and did extremely well, and they followed that up with their newest album, “Mdrn Lv,” in March of 2019.
“The first album was kind of, in terms of lyrics, my teenage life up until the age of about 19 or 20, and all of the experiences I had then. I had never really left Ireland or experienced anything aside from my small hometown. The [debut] album took off and took us all around the world to places we had never been before. From Dubai to Europe and from Europe to America. All these crazy places where you meet new people and have new experiences. The second album was the soundtrack to that. The production really reflected that. More stripped and simplistic on the first album like my life and the lyrics, and the second was a whirlwind of these crazy and heightened experiences and the production and sound reflect all of that,” said Hennessy.
For a band that is still so young, neither of them could have pictured everything taking off as quickly as it did.
“I think when we first began the band, we had one song. It was “Take My Hand” and we were extremely confident in that song and we knew that song was going to do well in some kind of way. We just really loved the music we had made,” explained Rainsford. “There was a magic about it at the time, and we knew that if we pushed hard and worked hard enough that it would take off, but to take off the way it has and how big it has become [is something] we never could have really seen that coming, and for it to happen so quickly and have us be on a journey of becoming a band and traveling the world and doing all these things, it’s something we never really thought would happen. You just don’t have the capacity to think about those things when you are starting off. We were confident and believed in our music but there is nothing to prepare you for what’s to come.”
To all the singer-songwriters and aspiring musicians in the world, Picture This’ advice is:
“Don’t listen to anybody. Don’t listen to anybody’s opinions on your music. Trust yourself. You know best what to do with your music. Obviously be open but if you see you know something that people are contradicting your opinions, but you truly believe in yourself and your music, then just go do it yourself until everyone sits up and listens.”
Loads of people have denied the Irish sensation. They brought their song “Take My Hand” around to different labels and kept getting shot down. It turned out to be the biggest song in Ireland for two years because they had the biggest belief in themselves and their song.
“Trust your instincts,” they say, “because you know best.”
Picture This will be performing at The Sinclair in Cambridge, on April 24, 2019.