INTERVIEW: Picnic | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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2016 has proved a ride on the proverbial rollercoaster for indie-pop-jazz-funk whirlwind Picnic. In one short year, the Mackem seven-piece have succeeded in packing out sizeable venues, releasing their first EP and winning the heart of daytime TV presenter Holly Willoughby – all whilst most of the members are still in their teens.

Founding member Eddie Scott still seems dazed at their success. “It’s all been a bit full-on,” he admits. “We started off around June last year – a lot of us did the same music course at University or Sunderland College. When we started gigging the reaction was a lot better than we expected. We weren’t sure if people would be on board with what we do.”

Luckily, they were. Following the release of their glorious debut EP Four Ways To Cure Teen Angst last April, the band drew a crowd of hundreds to Sunderland’s Port of Call with a score of what can only be described as ‘happy tunes for sad people’. But this was more than sheer luck of the draw: in fact, the group have more than enough experience under their belts. “I found our drummer Matty from a different band – he used to be in a band called the Montagues. I was in an indie group called Imogen for a little bit. Our trumpet player has played with a few as well, then our bass player has been in about six different bands. He still plays with three of them!”

it would be more fitting to describe them as ‘music for all seasons’

Despite being familiar with what appears to be the vast majority of the local scenesters, the treacherous road to fame hasn’t been any less so for Picnic. Speaking of their rapid recognition was a somewhat delicate issue for the guitarist. “It kind of worked both in and against our favour, in that when you’re in a smaller scene – like the North East is – there’s a lot of animosity from other bands. We’ve had a few fingers pointed from people who think we’ve had stuff handed to us.” Naturally, such accusations are far from the truth. As the age of members range from 21 to as young as 17, it’s always been clear that they have to fight that extra bit harder for the recognition they deserve. Perhaps it is this sense of staunch perseverance that has helped them score an impressive headline show at the O2 Academy on Friday 12th August.

With a style that defies all genres, it’s arguable that the group epitomise the defiantly independent nature of North East music, regardless of youth. Scott even cites a performance by Northern funk duo Smoove & Turrell as a catalyst in the formation of their sound – which he is in no rush to label. “We don’t really have a proper name for it. It tends to be whatever we feel like saying on the day.”

Picnic were recently dubbed “summertime indie”. But through hard graft, a fresh outlook and buckets of genuine charisma, it would be more fitting to describe them as ‘music for all seasons’.

Picnic play O2 Academy on Friday 12th August.

 

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