Sharing Common History; Picnic Lightning on their new LP

What is the opposite of the middle? Dark has light, truth has lies, God has Satan, but what (or who) is the middle’s foil? Theories abound, but it is the four gentlemen in Picnic Lightning who claim dominion over that murky abyss. They may hail from where the west begins, their feet may stomp Fort Worth concrete, but their music dwells in the shadowland of trenchant questions and orphic revelations.
After releasing its Gilded Youth EP in the fall of 2014, Picnic Lightning went straight to work on new material at shows and in the studio. The eight tracks on the self-titled debut LP are the what was left from a thirty-song list on a dry-erase board wielded down by trial and error, and an adherence to the band’s mantra from day one: let no one suffer.
In many ways Picnic Lightning’s debut LP (produced by Britt Robisheaux, of The Theater Fire) serves as a chronicle of their sonic, enlightening and ruinous experience since the release of Gilded Youth. It’s a chronicle of their life in the middle – a tribute to fear first tasted, total despair first felt, and reality at last acknowledged. On this LP, Picnic Lightning deftly touches the inexhaustible complexities of life and does so with sonics as singular as the individual human experience. The eight songs on this LP croon when they want to holler, stomp when they want to skip, wax thoughtful where vengeance belongs; and vice-versa. It’s the fuel that sets your car aflame or gets you home; the drug that puts you down or brings out the beast; your first peace or your worst nightmare – the middle claims victory in all cases.
Ghettoblaster caught up with the band to discuss the LP, which was released via Dreamy Life Records on September 2. This is what they said about it.
When did you first begin writing the material for Picnic Lightning?
The songs range in age. “Lilies of the Valley” was written about six years ago and has been a part of our live sets since day one. We had this creative surge early this year that produced three or four songs that were different in terms of approach, dynamics, and space. The rest of the album came from a list of 30 or so song ideas we had written and recorded on a phone since the band started – it didn’t take long to find ideas that fit with the current mood we were in. “House of the Lynx” is the newest song, we finished writing it in the studio.
The video for “American Ruin“ looks like it was as much fun to film as it was to watch. What was the inspiration behind?
We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we also write about subjects that are very important to us. When we started thinking about this video, we knew we didn’t want to make a literal visual representation of the lyrical themes. All we knew was that we wanted to shoot a video and didn’t want to think too much about it or spend any money. The less ambitious the better, we thought, and decided to spend a weekend at the lake house, imbibe, recreate tarot, and see what we came up with. We had our best friend and visual wizard, Alex Shumate, come along to film and go wild with – he’s very good for both of those things. Thanks to the Wilmoths for giving us the run of their place.
Are these a collection of songs? Or is there a running thread throughout the album?
There is an underlying theme to most of our songs and this collection fits into that ethos. The four of us share a lot of common history and we pull from many of the same joys, pains, frustrations, and curiosities. This isn’t a “concept album” by any means, but there are certain threads that tie it all together.
We hear some Ty Segall or maybe The Thermals in your music. Are they influences of yours? Who are your main influences?
We’re big fans of Ty. The combination of his songwriting, his sonics, his proliferation, and constant reinvention isn’t just inspiring, it’s heroic. Several of us were heavily influenced by the post-punk revival in the 00’s and spent a lot of time with Detachment Kit, …Trail of Dead, Les Savy Fav, etc. This album was influenced by contemporary and classic artists from Jay Reatard to The Animals and Courtney Barnett to Donovan.
Do you have any plans for a late summer or fall tour?
We will be focusing on shows in the southwest U.S., but we’re open to invitations. If people want to see us, we’ll do our best to make it happen.
(Visit the band here: