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

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After playing numerous raucous gigs around the region over the past few months, Joe, Cal, Shane, Harvey and Jeff – aka Newcastle-based alt-emo rock band Picture Frames – have finally released their debut EP Playground. The whole EP is completely free to download from their Bandcamp page now but to celebrate their first official release, the five-piece are playing a special, intimate show at Think Tank on Saturday 13th June.

Ahead of the gig, I talked to the band about Playground, their relationship with fellow post-hardcore darlings Shades and their second EP, which is already in the pipeline.

Tell us about the debut EP, Playground. What are the major inspirations behind it?

There’s a couple of themes relating to the Playground EP. It tells a particular tale about a part of our lives that came out of nowhere and kinda sucked. Mainly leaving home, the demise of relationships and an overall feeling of being so fucking anxious you cannot leave your tiny closet bedroom. But it’s a more positive take… It’s not about looking back, it’s about looking forward, which is kinda pushed by the title track. We’re basically just a bunch of emotional morons that feel hard done by and are trying to express that in the most positive way, despite some dark lyricism.

Musically, who do you most closely associate with?

We recorded the Playground EP last October, so our musical influences as a band have changed since then. If we are talking about the Playground EP, then a couple of influences that we think became apparent in the EP was the Magnolia era of Turnover, Basement and maybe a bit of the Shed era of Title Fight here and there. That’s maybe because they were our main influences when we started the band almost a year ago and we wrote that EP pretty much as we started rehearsing. As for now, our taste in music changes and it kinda has an effect on the music we create in the band. So our second EP (which has pretty much been finished before we even released the Playground EP) has a darker, heavier, more atmospheric vibe, which we totally fine with.

Do you wear your influences on your sleeve or are you trying to create something a little bit different?

We try not to! I guess most bands say that they want to create originality and be totally different, but sometimes that’s not always achievable considering how many bands are out there these days. With this EP, I think we knew exactly what we were going for.

Have there been any challenges while recording the EP?

There was a couple, but nothing major! On the day of recording bass and drums the headphone amp wasn’t working so we had to settle with recording it live without a click track. It wasn’t really a problem though. Other than that we had a lot of fun recording the EP!

Why did you decide to give away Playground free of charge?

There is a couple of reasons for that; Lewis Walker, who produced the record, basically did it free of charge because it was a part of his uni project. So charging people for a record that was done for free would have been a very unfair move on our part. Also, we don’t really care about making money. We would rather have more people downloading our music for free than less people downloading our music because it might “not be worth the price” or something stupid like that.

“We’re basically just a bunch of emotional morons that feel hard done by and are trying to express that in the most positive way”

Are you going to continue giving your music away for free in the future?

It all depends on how much we invest into a record to be honest. You can’t put hundreds of pounds into a record and not want to expect just a little of it back, because that’s just silly. With our future releases we are planning to be investing a lot of our time and money into them, but we’ll decide when it comes to it.

What can we expect from your EP launch gig? Have you got any surprises in store?

You can expect a very fun night! We are decorating the place to make it look very welcoming and closing off any areas that we feel would make it a less intimate atmosphere. As for the line-up, we have three brilliant bands to showcase. Joe Allan is going to open the show, and he’s an exceptionally talented singer-songwriter. Usually he would be playing acoustically, but this time around two members of Shades are helping out and performing as a full band with him. That should be great! After that, pals of ours Mongeese will be playing some awesome math rock which is not to be missed. Our good friends Shades will then blow everyone away with their live performance as usual. As for any surprises, we may play a song for the first time and maybe the last time. To us, it’s very old. Some people may have heard it before. But we’ll see! Overall, it is going to be a great night. Hella cheap too!

You supported Shades at their recent EP launch and now they’re supporting you; do you think there’s a lot of camaraderie between the post-hardcore and emo bands in the region?  

Between other bands in the region, I have no idea. I think that regardless of the genre, whether that be post-hardcore, alternative or even metal, friendships are always built and when that happens, bands tend to help each other out. I think that’s what happened between us and Shades. Become friends with other local bands and help each other out! It makes a difference!

What’s next for Picture Frames?

After this EP launch, I think we’ll just be getting everything ready for the recording of our second EP. We may play the odd show here and there. But we’re mainly focusing on the finishing touches of our second EP right now. We will start recording it at the end of July so that should be a lot of fun. We’re really proud of what we’ve created so far! Other than that, we’ll just be playing as many shows as possible and trying to get our music heard from as many people as possible.

Picture Frames play at Think Tank, Newcastle on Saturday 13th June.

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