German duo The Picturebooks have been making waves recently with their unique brand of hard-hitting blues rock.
In recent times The Picturebooks have been out on tour supporting bands like Monster Truck, Kadavar, The Answer and Les Butcherettes. The band will be hitting the road for an extensive UK tour in support of their new album Home Is A Heartache throughout October.
Home Is a Heartache serves as the band’s sophomore release and Another Century label-debut. The 14-track album was recorded in the band’s garage, where they regularly refurbish and repair motorcycles and choppers. The album captures a raw, rich, and real energy evoking the rooms natural reverb, industrial aura, and spiritual spark.
National Rock Review recently caught up with The Picturebooks – Fynn Claus Grabk (guitar/vocals) and Philipp Mirtschink (drums) at Ramblin’ Man Fair in Maidstone, Kent to talk about their latest offering, their Ramblin’ Man experience, and their forthcoming UK Tour.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review, we really appreciate it.
Fynn: Of course.
NRR: So you’ve just come off stage at Ramblin Man Fair, how was it for you guys?
Fynn: It was wet (laughing) in every way, like sweaty and rainy. But no we had a really good time here all in all. I mean like as a musician, the way that we like festivals, may be different to what the audience think, how they measure it. For us it’s about – does the crew treat you well, is there good catering, how’s the backstage and what not. Everything was so well organized here and I think for both parties, for the audience, and for the artist. I really, really enjoyed it – even with that rain, it wasn’t out of control or anything, everyone was mellow, everyone did their job. I loved it.
Philipp: Our room is so clean and so perfect, we just set one foot in it and we were like ahh maybe we shouldn’t be in here it’s way to clean.
Fynn: We’re not worth it (laughing).
Philipp: Nah, let’s get the fuck out of here.
NRR: In terms of the music at the festival, are you going to go out and see any of the bands play?
Fynn: Yeah, we have a really good friend – he’s the roadie for Monster Truck, they are playing tomorrow. We were on tour with Monster Truck recently … and he is the roadie for Rival Sons now, so we are excited about them.
But to be honest, we are not really … I mean we love music and we definitely are inspired by other artists, but we had a time where we didn’t listen to music. We forbid each other to listen to music for two years so we don’t get inspired by the wrong stuff, so we got to the core of what we really are musically and in an artistic way. That was a time where we actually realized how awesome it is to not listen to music all of the time, at least for us you know. So we sometimes are not the biggest pro’s when it comes to what’s like the new hot band on the market – it’s like we don’t know (laughing).
NRR: Earlier this year you released your second album Home Is A Heartache. I was just wondering could you tell us a little bit about the album and the inspiration behind it?
Fynn: Of course, yeah I’ve just mentioned before about being on the road, that’s what it’s about – it’s all about being on the road. Before we had written that album we were on the road for three years straight to tour our album Imaginary Horse. A lot of stuff happened on that tour, we never had time to actually realize and understand what was going on.
When we started that tour we were playing in clubs almost the size of this little room here in front of five people. Just through word of mouth and social media and whatnot we got to the point where a lot of these venues were sold out a year later off just coming back. Keep coming back and go to the next bigger venue and all that stuff was happening.
Then all of a sudden you know like you are filling venues you’ve always wished to fill or you are playing festivals that you’ve always wanted to play at and stuff like that. But you never actually had the chance to realize that this is happening right now, it was just happening.
So we basically just sat down, straight out of the van into the studio and recorded that album. Most of the stuff on the album is just like improvisations and stuff like that you know – like I’d say 80%, even the lyrics are improvised. So it was really just …it just came out, no trying to make it sound nice, we just tried to use some words to make it sound like it’s zero fucks given. You know what I mean, it just happened in that moment.
NRR: I know you touch on some pretty personal topics on the album. Particularly tracks like “Inner Demons”. I was just wondering do you find songwriting to be therapeutic at all?
Fynn: On that tour, I got to a point where I guess I was kind of burnt out, I won’t use the word burnt out, but it’s the only word that I guess that I feel is describing like what I was feeling at that moment, stressed out maybe.
I was getting these crazy panic attacks and like they were really bad, I was frightened to death. Out of nowhere, just like my heart was beating fast and I was just having dinner or stuff like that was happening and I got it on stage too.
It actually started in Southampton – that’s the first time I remember it really happening. I was feeling weird before that, I wouldn’t say depressed because it was all good – it was our first real headlining tour and whatnot and Southampton was the first show. I remember the next morning I was waking up with a weird feeling and all of a sudden in the Starbucks in Southampton, it was like woah, what’s going on. I was feeling hot and whatnot, I was scared to death and that was a daily thing.
It was almost like a routine at some point, I was used to having them, but then I was like scared to be scared all of a sudden because I knew it could come at any moment. I knew when I was going on stage I would get two or three. I was sore because I was getting cramps and I was cramping up. Now thinking about it, it was a crazy time.
But Home Is A Heartache actually yeah, it was like a therapy. What we did was we went into the studio and we made a schedule, I went to the gym a lot and it was just fixing whatever was going on up there. It was a good thing, just a daily routine.
When we are going on tour, we try to keep a daily routine in a different way, not like at home, but like a tour daily routine and that’s actually I guess the best thing we could have done. It feels so much better to be on tour now, you can perform a lot better.
We try not to party too much on tour and stuff like that. At the end of the day, there are people paying to see a show and it’s up to us to make people have a cool night and stuff like that and I want to be a good inspiration. Because we are both skateboarders you know and coming from skateboarding we always had idols or people that we looked up to you know.
I’ve had a couple of dudes that I really loved, but then they were heavy drinkers and heavily into drugs and crazy meat eaters and stuff like that and I was like I really liked you to this point. For us I guess we just want to be people that kids can look up to and be like fuck yeah – vegan, don’t party too hard and stay off drugs, do something artistic, whatever you feel like is good in life and try to go that way without being uncool you know (laughing) – a dude in Birkenstocks and what not. Actually, we just bought ourselves so Birkenstocks and we are going directly into that direction, I don’t know (laughing).
NRR: Like you mentioned there, you were out on tour with Monster Truck last year, what was that experience like for you guys?
Fynn: Oh man, we became best friends on the first day, they were good times. I mean these guys have been doing it for a while too you know and I guess they have a similar approach to how to do this like we do – be professional, be punctual, stay off drugs, stay off the partying, take it seriously and so we got along really well.
NRR: Obviously, you are going to go on tour across the UK at the end of October. You are playing in my hometown of Newcastle at Jumpin’ Jacks on the 11th October. For those who have never seen you perform before, how would you best describe one of your shows?
Fynn: I guess it’s intense, sweaty and unforgiving.
NRR: I like that you should put it on a t-shirt. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us I really appreciate it and good luck with everything you’ve got going on.
The Picturebooks will be returning to the UK in October in support of their new album Home Is A Heartache.
“Home Is a Heartache” is available now everywhere: http://smarturl.it/ThePicturebooksHIAH
THE PICTUREBOOKS – Home Is a Heartache Tour 2017:
04.10 UK Southampton – Joiners
05.10 UK Birmingham – The Flapper
06.10 UK Manchester – Satans Hollow
07.10 UK Dublin – Whelans
08.10 UK Belfast – Voodoo
09.10 UK Glasgow – King Tuts
11.10 UK Newcastle – Jumpin’ Jacks
12.10 UK Liverpool – Studio 2
13.10 UK Grimsby – Yardbirds
14.10 UK Leeds – The Key Club
15.10 UK Sheffield – Corporation
16.10 UK London – The Lexington
17.10 UK St Albans – The Horn
19.10 UK Bournemouth – The Anvil
20.10 UK Plymouth – The Junction
21.10 UK Brighton – The Hope & Ruin
22.10 UK Tunbridge Wells – The Forum
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