Seattle band, Pickwick, leaves its songs open to interpretation
Rarely does a band avoid putting an autobiographical slant on its music. But when it comes to Pickwick’s forthcoming release, Can’t Talk Medicine, due out on March 12, singer/songwriter Galen Disston and multi-instrumentalist Kory Kruckenberg are determined to keep their distance.
“Each of the songs on the record is about an idea, character, moment or story I heard about that seemed to be completely without context,” Disston says. “They seemed completely original to me. None of it is personal or autobiographical.”
The decision to write about non-personal material for this record is in line with Pickwick’s evolution as a band. Originally founded as an Americana/folk outfit in 2008, there was a time when Disston dove frequently into personal musings. And while he is not ashamed of that period of time in his growth as a songwriter, he has definitely gotten it out of his system.
“I wrote a song early on where I belied Exxon and feared for my kids’ future with an organization like Exxon out there controlling what goes on in our world,” Disston says. “So I’ve had the experience of writing autobiographically.”
After releasing a series of soulful 7-inches in 2011 that eventually became Myths—an extremely popular EP in their native Seattle—Pickwick is back with what the band considers to be its first proper release, Can’t Talk Medicine. The album, as well as their three-track EP, January’s Covers, has more of a neo-soul quality to it than previous releases, but even that can be debated.
“We don’t really describe ourselves as a soul band,” Disston says. “Though we do draw inspiration from bands that drew inspiration from ’60s R&B, such as The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, The Sonics here in Washington and early Rolling Stones.”
The content is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the record, both for the listeners and the band, in part because Disston and Kruckenberg are purposefully cryptic about what’s going on in the songs.
“There are clues and subjects in each of the songs,” Disston says, “and I want people to have that experience of discovering the subject on their own. For me as a listener, that has been really rewarding when I’m able to project my own meaning onto the songs, whether they’re accurate or not. I don’t want to take that away from people.”
“We hope there are people out there who will do the same with our music as opposed to us just having to lay everything out for them,” Kruckenberg agrees.
Though when pressed hard enough, Kruckenberg does divulge some information about the album’s content.
“All the songs are about artists who were struggling with mental illness,” Kruckenberg says. “It’s that balancing act as an artist where you’re giving yourself over completely to your art, and in turn you’re disregarding everything that makes up a healthy lifestyle. And that comes back to us, because we’re writing songs and creating music, and it’s pretty intense sometimes. There’s a certain amount of crazy that we approach in that scenario.”
While always willing to push the boundaries with regard to what they are capable of as a band, they are cognizant of where that proverbial line is and do what they can to avoid crossing it.
Still, “There are times when we relapse,” Disston admits with a laugh.
Hopefully they can keep the relapses to a minimum.
Pickwick will perform at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. Tickets are $12/adv, $14/door. For more information, call 603-2294.