About Me

Interview with The Picturebooks

Big labels that started off by releasing metal albums and signing metal bands are now signing acts that are in no way considered metal at all. This is the case with The Picturebooks signed by Century Media. This duo, whose sound is defined as Blues Rock, has recently released a new album “The Major Minor Collective” in which each track features a famous metal singer. Although this isn’t extreme or metal at all, it is so interesting that Metal Imperium caught up with the band to find all about their new album, their upcoming tour with Warish and their goals! Read on...

M.I. - Why have you opted for the name The Picturebooks?

We got offered our very first show and the promoter asked me what name he should print on the poster and I just said “The Picturebooks”. He misspelled it to so we kept it this way. We just immediately felt connected to this name.

M.I. – When doing research for this interview, I found out The Picturebooks had already released 3 albums: “List of people to kill” in 2009, “Artificial tears” in 2010 and “Imaginary horse” in 2014. I honestly thought it was the same band as it clearly is you but I find no reference to these albums in your official pages these days. Am I confused or what? Or is it really you but in a different version?

It´s really us. We used to be a 3 piece for our first 2 albums but the bassist kinda Yoko Ono´ed us, we’re still best friends to this day though. After Tim left us, we went a complete new route but kept the name. Went to California and this started developing from there. It was the best thing that could have happened to us. “Imaginary horse” is our debut as a duo and is to this day our most important album.

M.I. – Who designed the band’s logo? What is the knife doing in there?

The logo is designed by our buddy, ex pro skateboarder, Gareth Stehr. We always loved his art and his sometimes naive ways of expressing things. We had the idea of having a dagger in. Our logo because we feel like it looks bad ass and, then again, that naive feel to it gives you a hint that we are more then just bad ass.

M.I. – The band’s sound has been defined as Blues Rock. In your opinion, is this the best definition for it?

I don’t even know what defines blues or neither do I know how to play it. To be honest, I hate blues, most of it at least. It can be the most boring thing in the world. But we love really delta blues and stuff and it has definitely inspired us a lot, even though we still don’t know what makes blues, blues. I believe it’s all in the heart. We have never learned to play an instrument, I mean I cannot play a freaking chord to this day. We just have something goin’ on in our hearts and music is our tool too express it. Genres make musicians become athletes. We’re artists not athletes that try to best in one genre. We just do whatever we want to and if that sounds bluesy to some people, then why not.

M.I. – Soundwise, which bands have influenced The Picturebooks and yourselves as individuals and musicians?

Hundreds if not thousands. We listen to a lot of music, all kinds, all genres… bands from Black Flag, Minor Threat… to Madonna… to Devo, B52s… to The Stooges, New York Dolls, The Velvet Undergound… to Nick Cave, Patti Smith… to Beck… to Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Rihanna… to Quicksand, Rage Against The Machine, Deftness… the list goes on and on and on and on.

M.I. - What can fans expect of “The Major Minor Collective”?

Raw, unforgiving and free pieces of art created by people from all over the world connected by one thing: music. We all as music lovers, musicians, journalists, publisher, club owners… we´re all fans first and that makes all of this so god damn unique and even a pandemic won’t stop us from doing so. 

M.I – What’s the major difference between this album and the previous one?

Our last album was called “Hands of Time” released on Century Media and the difference is that we have had a freaking pandemic going on and realized that we, as a band, are a lot more than just a touring band, we have a fan base that follows us on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and what not. We have a studio, we ride and build motorcycles, we love cycling and sports in general, we’re skateboarders… all in all, we are representing a lifestyle that some people are into and use social media to share that with them. In between all of this, we just started recording and had some not-so-goodsongs that needed more attention or a different approach so we started reaching out to some singers that we´re into or friends with and people jumped in and, all of the sudden, we had a whole album with all these amazing artists. Thank you internet! We haven’t even shared a room together and still wrote a song together or even shot a music video together. Crazy!!!

M.I. – How are people reacting to the new tracks and videos?

Everyone really seems to like it and seem to still hear that it’s us on there which was something we were kinda nervous about as we kinda pushed the boundaries here and there with what we thought defines our sound. Like do things production wise that we wouldn’t have done if this was another The Picturebooks album. We realized that we can be a lot more open and still sound like us and that was a really freeing experience. Also the videos are getting great reactions and, hands down, it was quite a challenge to make them happen as we were so far apart but we made it happen. Lzzy for example recorded and filmed herself in Nashville while we did everything here in Germany. Or the song with Neil Fallon from Clutch was shot in Germany, Washington and Los Angeles.

M.I. – What’s the message/emotions you want to convey with your music? 

Stop wasting away. Stop living in a comfort zone! Get out there and live! 

M.I. – How did the deal with Century Media come up? How do The Picturebooks fit in a label like Century Media? 

We had no label, no booking agency, after we quit everything after our first 2 albums and went to LA. We started playing shows there and people really seem to dig it. We then got a deal with Riding Easy Records and got hooked with great agents that booked shows all over the world. Slowly but surely we started playing almost 200 shows a year and things got outta hand and we needed a bigger label so we reached out and were in the lucky position to have a bunch of labels that were really interested in signing us. We went with the label that seemed to understand the band the most and wanted to do cool stuff with us and that was Century Media, without a doubt. We love being with a label like Century Media because they have an awesome team that often feels like friends to us more than business partners to be honest. Also being with a label that is part of the Sony group is something that we´re really interested in. Yes, Century Media is probably a lot more metal than we are but I guess we would always be the odd balls on every label. It’s just what we are and we´re ok with it. We just wanna be understood and they do that!

M.I. – Each track features a famous guest vocalist. How did the idea of working like this come up?

Hands down, it just happend. We needed a new approach and this idea came up and things developed in the process. It felt really cool to work on the production side a lot more and with new artists. See how they handle things and where they take our songs.

M.I. – Did you write the song thinking of a specific singer or did you write it and think of who would fit in better afterwards?

No, never. The songs were 100% done and every singer had freedom of choice which song they wanna do.

M.I. – Did anyone turned your invitation down? If so, can you telll who it was?!

Only one guy, Klaus Meine of he Scorpions. (laughts)! It would have been so rad to see where He’s going with this. He was really into the idea though but just didn’t have the time. Fair enough.

M.I. - From 1 to 100, how much impact does the label have on the success of a band/album?

Good question! I believe it’s all in the hands of the band. The label is the gun but the band is the bullet. You gotta prepare everything and be the best version of yourself to really make an impact. So I guess it’s a 50/50 thing but I honestly believe that if you really want these days you could become a huge act without a label if you are willing to put in the work.

M.I. - What are The Picturebooks’ short-term goals? And long-term ones? 

Doing what we are doing right now. We’ve already reached our goal years ago when we decided that this is what we want to be doing. We´re just enjoying every second of it and trying to make it last as long as possible.

M.I. – The band’s already got a tour with Warish on the horizon. What are the expectations? Are you excited to go back onstage?

Can’t fucking wait. Riley is a good buddy of ours and we love Warish a lot. They’re also on our old label Riding Easy Records. We will have a pretty bad ass show prepared till then and can’t wait to share a room with everyone again. It’s been a long time coming!

M.I. - How’s the current Blues Rock scene? Any bands one should pay attention to?

Well, we´re the wrong people to ask, I guess, as we don’t know too much abut it. Here’s a bunch of cool albums that are new that people should listen to no matter what. “Quicksand - Distant Populations” “Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert & Jon Randall - The Marfa Tapes”…

M.I. - Do you have any last words to share with our readers? All the best for The Picturebooks! Stay safe! Keep on making great music!

Life is good! Go out There and make it happen! Go Vegan!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca