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Interview: Picture This

June 13, 2023 6 min read

The Irish chart-topping quartet talk new music and defining success four albums in.


“We’re always trying to creatively progress,” Jimmy Rainsford of Picture This tells Man About Town below. Since their eponymous, chart-topping 2017 debut LP, the Irish pop-rock phenomenons have dropped a further two albums, 2019’s Modern Love and 2021’s Life In Colour, selling out stadiums and going triple-platinum on home soil in the process. However, far from complacent amidst the success they’ve already bagged, the priority for the group very much remains evolution, both creatively and in their general success. “Obviously we want to be successful as a band and have our music reach as many people as possible,” Rainsford continues. “But being able to creatively progress and expand what Picture This really is so important.” 


The next step, following an array of upcoming festival appearances spanning Madrid’s Mad Cool, Lollapalooza Paris and the UK’s Latitude this summer, is a fourth album, due later in the year. Set only to augment the love already directed at the group, its latest release, a double A-side featuring tracks “Red Lights” and “Ireland”, well and truly sets the tone for this next epoch in the Picture This story. Via magnetic melodies destined to be belted out by crowds, “Red Lights” explores the life-altering power of love, and “Ireland”, as one might expect, celebrates their unyielding affinity to their homeland. 

Head below to read our chat on all things new music, what fans can expect from their live dates, and how an air cooler and ginger shots are getting them through the madness… 


Hey, Picture This! Massive congratulations on the release of “Red Lights” and “Ireland”. Can you tell us more about the decision to release both tracks together?

Ryan: We’ve written so many songs over the last two years and an idea we always had was to bring back the old school thing of doing a double A-side release. I always thought that was really cool when things were more single driven in the ‘90s. I’m a huge fan of Oasis and a lot of my favourite songs are their B-sides. But yeah, it had been a minute since we’d released any music and Jimmy (James) came up with the idea to put this out as a double A-side. We knew "Red Lights" was going to be the single, but we also knew that "Ireland" needed to have its own moment – because it’s not very often you write a song that’s a love letter to your home country, as well as your adolescence and growing up there.


You guys have already had such a successful journey, with stadium shows and number one albums under your belt. If you could sum up what the priority is for you guys just now, what would you say?

James: Being able to creatively progress and expand what Picture This is really is so important. Picture This is bigger than us. So, I guess where we’re at right now is [trying] to play our music to as many people as possible. It’s the most fun.


We know you’ve got a few festival appearances also in the pipeline for this summer! How would you describe the experience of a Picture This gig?

Ryan: A Picture This show would be surprising for a lot of people if you’ve only heard of us on record. It’s a super high energy show. Our audiences often feel like a football crowd – it’s big and rowdy. There are girls at the front giving it all the screaming, but then there’s also lads on shoulders swinging their tops and all sorts. I think it’s because we have big anthemic songs, it puts across that energy. But we’re also a lot of fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We have as much fun as we possibly can and I think the crowd feel that too. It’s a very open and free atmosphere and the crowd are very much involved in our shows.


“Red Lights” sounds like quite an emotional one to make! Could you unpack the day(s) in the studio where it came together?

James: I was in Ryan’s house and I remember him playing me the chorus on an acoustic guitar. I immediately said, ‘I think this is a hit song’. Then later, I went back home and made a full production around that chorus that he played. The lyrics came after that, but then we were actually going to Nashville the next week and [songwriter] Jamie Hartman (Lewis Capaldi, Kylie Minogue, Calvin Harris) let us use his studio to record the vocals to the track, which was so nice of him. I’d say a year later, the song just took on a life of its own and here we are now!


Ryan: I wrote the chorus and I had a verse idea, but I just wanted to make a song that’s fairly simple to be honest. It’s not trying to be anything too clever, it’s more of a feeling and something that everyone can relate to in the song – finding someone who is able to liberate you. It was almost like a country [track] when I played it at first, but I was blown away when Jimmy turned it into more of a pop style. It was a separate process in terms of me writing and then Jimmy working away on the production, but I remember sitting at my kitchen table just buzzing and listening to it over and over.


You’ve already ticked off so many major experiences, but what’s your idea of success for the next chapter?

Ryan: Good question. When we went to record the album, I had a couple of personal goals in mind. One of them was to create a really cohesive sounding album that feels like a band going in and playing their songs together – that’s what we’re best at. I really wanted to capture that energy as well as the energy we have live. It’s something that I’m super satisfied with on the album and it was nice to be able to make that goal and achieve it. But I think the next chapter is the new album and hopefully it will last around for a long time. We want to tour and play it to as many people as we can, because it’s our favourite thing to do. It almost feels like a relaunch of the band, post-pandemic and all that. It’s a new, distilled version of Picture This which is really exciting.


We heard you also have an album in the pipeline! What do you think might surprise fans on the project?

James: This is the most time we’ve spent writing and making an album. We really wanted to make sure that every song has its own story. Lyrically, it’s the most personal album we’ve made. For me listening to Ryan’s lyrics, it’s a universal experience with the themes he touches on – some of them we’ve never spoken about before. So I think the contents and lyrics are a surprise in that they’re very new.


Who has been on regular rotation on your own playlist through the creation process of this new music?

Ryan: For me, it was a lot of country music. Morgan Wallen and HARDY were two artists I loved listening to a lot. It’s interesting though because I don’t think the music we consumed fed into the music that we made. Even since growing up, the bands that we would listen to sound nothing like us. I grew up listening to a lot of hip hop, the rest of the boys would listen to heavier music, but that doesn’t come across in our music. But writing the album was a two-year period, so there was a lot of stuff we listened to.


James: To be honest, I prefer trying not to consume any music at all when we’re making our own. At the end of the day, we want to make music that we love to listen to. So, I love listening to Picture This!


Finally, what’s the most boring thing that’s happened to you lately that brought you the most joy?

Ryan: I’ve been doing ginger shots every day and they give me a good kick up the arse. I just had one before the call. That’s really boring, but it gives me a lot of dopamine. 


James: I bought an air cooler recently. It’s pure joy.