Though they’ve only officially released three songs, Athy duo Picture This are now selling out major gigs on the back of several viral videos.
Though they formed barely seven months ago, Kildare duo Picture This are already something of a local and national phenomenon. On the back of just a single song, uploaded to Facebook, they created a sizeable audience. Now, after releasing just their second tune online, they’ve sold out their debut gig in Dublin’s Academy.
Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy came together almost accidentally, when Hennessey posted a song on Facebook late last year. “It was just me playing acoustically and recorded by a friend of mine on his iPhone,” Hennessy explains. “It was the song that became our first single, ‘Take My Hand’, and it got a great response. Jimmy, who knew me from around, saw it and texted me and said, ‘You have to come down to my studio tomorrow and we’ll try and do something.’”
Rainsford takes up the story: “Ryan came down and we did it all in one day. I have my own home studio set-up and I recorded it and mixed it myself. But it was still really only a demo at that stage, so we did it again with even better sound and arrangements, and we just put it up on the internet. Initially it was only on Facebook and people shared it and shared it again, and it snowballed from there. We got something like 20,000 views in one night. After that we thought we should keep writing songs together.”
The pair made a video to go with the tune and ‘Take My Hand’ – an upbeat love song with an anthemic chorus – then got an official release, hitting number 5 in the iTunes charts. They’ve since released two more songs online, though as Rainsford explains, they’ve been careful to spread their releases out.
“Ideally we want to release something every couple of months and we want to give each song a chance,” he says. “We only have three singles officially on iTunes and whatever else is on Youtube. We can’t be releasing everything we do it as it would be too much for people to absorb.”
In terms of their musical background, 23-year-old Rainsford had already served time on the road as a drummer with Ryan Sheridan, while Hennessy was vocalist with a local band called Bohemian, though he’s keen to point out he’s still a relative newcomer.
“I think I sang in front of someone for the first time when I was about 18 and I’m 21 now,” he notes. “But I was writing poetry for a long time before that – I just put the words into the songs now. Oasis and the Stone Roses were my main influences – my brother got me into Oasis but I found the Stone Roses myself. And then I heard John Cooper Clarke, who is my biggest influence lyrically. I saw him live recently and he was brilliant.”
Rainsford is drawn more to the production and recording side of the business, and over time has created a purpose-built standalone studio at his home.
“I’m a drummer mainly and I started out as a heavy metal fan,” he says. “I was listening to Metallica and Slipknot and that kind of stuff. But I just love production. I’ve always wanted to get into it and when myself and Ryan got together, I thought this is the perfect opportunity. We want to write the kind of songs we would love to hear ourselves. Our songs are gritty, about real life with uplifting lyrics and melodies. Our tagline on Facebook is, ‘Music For People Who Like Music’.”
Picture This’ live debut, which took place in April, was originally scheduled to be in the Grand Social, but when that sold out in just 15 minutes, the show was moved to the much larger Academy – which also sold out. It’s impressive progress by any measure, but is there any sense that it’s all happening just a little too quickly for them?
“To be honest I’m so impatient,” says Rainsford. “I need to be either in the studio writing and recording songs or out gigging. I feel like the ball is rolling now and I don’t want to slow it down. Ryan is just a machine turning them out and I’m constantly in the studio. And it’s all real live instruments, unlike a lot of stuff you hear these days, where there’s no real human element. I don’t want to listen to a drum machine – I want to hear a band playing in the studio”.
Hennessy agrees that they’re more than ready to take it as far as they can, as soon as possible.
“Even now the songs are big enough to play stadiums,” he insists. “When we did the Academy, everyone was expecting us to do a cover every second song, but it was all original songs. When I’m writing a song now, I think of a crowd in a stadium singing it back to me. If I can’t hear that I put it aside.”
Picture This play the Olympia, Dublin on November 12
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