Pickwick aren't new to the local music scene—the soul-loving group has been beating in Seattle’s heart since releasing Myths, a series of seven-inches, back in 2011. But with sold out shows at both the Neptune and the Showbox at the Market on their resume, it’s hard to believe they’ve yet to officially release a full-length record. Until now! Next Tuesday, March 12, Pickwick will self-release Can’t Talk Medicine, a 13-track album that's been years in the making, and includes a cover song with Sharon Van Etten and some experimental sonic collages, showing us a side of the band we've not yet seen.
They're as much influenced by old soul records as they are garage rock and indie (they all grew up as Pedro the Lion fans). The song "Letterbox" opens with soft harmonies, making it sound like a new single from the Fleet Foxes, while "Window Sill," the most bad ass song on the album (and therefore my favorite), is evidence of the garage rock influence. "Santa Rosa," the album's closer, is an eerie ballad that's haunted by "I Only Have Eyes For You," and it'll leave your head in the clouds until you hit the replay button. And you'll want to hit the replay button—there are secrets within Pickwick's songs, that only beging to reveal themselves after a number of listens.
Can't Talk Medicine is lo-fi, a little dirty, and it finally proves on record what we've known all along—Pickwick aren't a one trick soul pony.
I also briefly chatted with Pickwickers Galen Disston and Kory Kruckenberg about their influences and why the fuck it took so long to release the record.
So you guys are finally releasing your debut full-length! Forgive me if this is an asshole question, but what took so long?
Kory: [Laughs] There are a lot of layers to the answer.
Galen: There are seven of them, it’s like a bean dip.
K: When we were doing 7-inches, that was kind of a process of discovering what this band was going to be. There was a lot of growth that happened between then and now. We started making this record three times. The first time we started, that growth we experienced between Myths and now wasn’t fully realized. Another time was just a bad time for us to start making it. Between tours, working full time, and new babies, we started the second time and a couple months in we said "No, this still isn’t working. We’re not doing this right. We need to start over. We need to get back to the basics of the songs." So for the third time, we started last April, and we did just that. We got a couple weeks in the studio before going back to touring and full-time jobs.
You guys are releasing this record independently. I’m sure you had offers from labels, though. Why do it yourselves?
G: We had offers, but none of them felt worth it and were what we wanted. We love a lot of the labels that made us offers.
K: They were great offers, but part of it was we didn’t want to wait any longer. We couldn’t wait until June to release the record because that would push us back even further.
So the record is great. My jam is “Window Sill,” but I really like “Brother Roland,” too, because with that falsetto, Galen, you give off a little bit of a Prince vibe.
G: [Laughs] Let the record show, I cannot sing like Price!
Have you had vocal lessons?
G: When we started recording Myths, I hadn’t had any lessons. I’ve been taking them for about a year, now, because I have no idea how to do this every night without ruining my voice.
I know when Pickwick started you were more an alt-country band. At what point did you discover your voice could be so emotive? Did you grow up listening to soul? Singing along to soul music?
G: I didn’t grow up listening to soul. I grew up listening to the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan. Soul is still really foreign to me, it still feels like... "Let’s leave soul to the masters." I mean, I’m honored, I honestly think soul music is some of the most incredible music, for a multitude of reasons.
K: Stylistically we don’t fit into the soul genre anyway. There’s R&B, ’60s garage rock, indie rock from the ’90s, the 2000s…
G: We’re not Sharon Jones because Sharon Jones is the real thing. We’re not Charles Bradley because that guy doesn’t even need to sing a melody to be amazing. We don’t have that luxury. It’s an honor to be lumped in with soul, but we’re definitely not worthy.
Pickwick will perform at Sonic Boom Records tonight at 6 pm. The show is free and all-ages.