Hi there. Thanks so much and I hope you guys are great. I would like you to introduce yourselves and the reason why you chose this name, please.
– hi, my name is Fynn and I’m the singer and guitarist in “The Picturebooks”. We live somewhere between LA and a small town in Germany called Gütersloh. I would love to have a deep story behind our band name but the truth is that our promoter for our very first show called me one day and asked about our name because he wanted to print posters for the show, so I came up with the name right there and then. That’s it.
How hard was for you creating this album? I ask you that because I read that you had gone into a painful but necessary hiatus away from music.
– writing and recording albums isn’t that hard. I think the hardest part of creating anything is to find the motivation for it. I get inspired by so many things in life but to then translate it into music or videos is a whole different thing. Motivation doesn’t grow on trees so you have to force it every day to show up for yourself to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. Understanding and accepting that was the key for us to be where we are now. For our first album “Imaginary Horse”, we took a 2 years long break from listening to music to get to the core of what we sound like without any other influence of other bands that we listen to. It was a very unique experience. We pretty much wrote the whole album in that time and created the sound that we still try to stay true to with everything we do. Its a mix of sound and vibe that we try to create.
What was you main influence for this “The Hands Of Time” and why did you choose this title?
-“The Hands Of Time” is all about living in the now. The things we’ve done in the past are long gone and just memories, maybe beautiful memories, maybe even important lessons, but we often get caught up living in the past. We stopped regretting stuff we’ve maybe done wrong at some point in our lives and tried to find positivity in it like being grateful for the mistakes we’ve done because they became a lesson learned in life. Being proud of things that you’ve done in the past can be really cool but that doesn’t mean that can behave like a complete asshole today, still gotta keep on keeping on, still gotta try to do your best again and again. The same thing for living in the future. You just start to be afraid or anxious about stuff that’s not even there yet, or you’re excited about something to then be disappointed because it didn’t happen as planned. Just be right here right now and try your best. That’s all and way enough. The whole album talks about this topic in one or another way.
You tracked the album in your own studio in Gütersloh, Germany, assisted by Grabke’s father Claus. In what way did he help? Did he give you any advice?
-my dad´s pretty much the third picturebook. He manages us, mixes us live, produces and helps us where ever he can and is needed without shaping us in a direction that we maybe don’t want or something like that. He’s my dad but also my best friend and my manager. This is a challenge obviously for the both of us but I think we’re doing a great job getting these 3 worlds together.
Brian Lucey mastered this album, at Magic Garden Mastering, and has worked with great musicians, such as Biffy Clyro, Marilyn Manson, The Black Keys, Ghost or Royal Blood. Did you feel any pressure working with him or did you feel comfortable? In what ways did he help you?
-no not at all. Nowadays you just write the master guys an email of what you kind of want and send them the files. They do their part and you either like or you don’t. We’ve tried a bunch of guys out there and Brian sounded the best and to be honest, was the cheapest. He does make great prices for indie bands and does a great job.
Who is the girl on the cover and who took the pic?
-the girl is our friend Scarlet Cappella from LA. the photo was shot by our buddy Michael Schmidt who is known in the chopper scene. He did a great movie called “6 Over” which I can highly recommend watching. This photo must have happened during the shoot or something. Scarlett is in our music videos and seemed perfect for the cover. The name and meaning of the album fit perfect with this photo plus it fits perfectly to the other 2 covers. We’ve always loved it when bands have a style that repeats itself in their album artwork like Roxy music for example.
You learned that the studio can be a good instrument. Therefore, you put power and energy, in ways you had never done before. Do think that, in the studio, you had more pressure to make this record? What differences did you feel, between recording on a studio and in your chopper garage?
-none. To be honest, because we were still in our studio and it was more of a sound thing that we went for then anything else. We just felt like we wanted to try it out and it felt great and sounded like we intended to.
With a very interesting album, comes more interesting instruments, such as piano, tubular bells, harp, mandolin, timpani drums, and a lot of self-made percussion instruments. Did you know how to play them or did you have any preparation with a music teacher? What were the hardest to play and the easiest? What were the instruments you made and their names?
-we´ve never learned to play any instrument, that’s why we often play stuff the completely wrong way in the eyes of professional musicians but it sounds right for us so I guess there is nothing wrong about it. Our self made instruments are a lot of fun to make and tricky to play but obviously makes us extra proud to have them on the record. I’ve never played the mandolin just always loved the way they sounded and mostly how they looked. I feel like if an instrument looks good it has to sound good. that´s a fact! HA HA! Same with the piano just went for it and that´s what came out. When it comes to percussion stuff we get a lot of help from one of our best buddies Sven Pollkötter who is a professional classical musician but also a rock drummer. If we end up not understanding how to translate what we want into music, we try to figure it out with him, if it’s even possible or not.
You mixed a couple of uptempo songs, such as “Electric Nights”, with trademark mid-tempo burners like “The Day The Thunder Arrives” or “Tell Me Lies”. What are the differences between these two tempos?
-the tempos are the difference I guess. I don’t know, we just say let’s make a faster song and then we make a faster song. We try not to think about it too much. We’re artists, we wanna make art – we don´t want to build a house, it’s about creating emotions.
You had a special surprise for the fans: a collaboration between you and Chrissie Hynde, from The Pretenders, on the track “You Can’t Let Go”. You met, her while you were sound-checking at a gig you had together in picturesque Saint-Tropez. How was the concert and what do you recall from the experience? Why did you choose this music and not another one? Who the shot for the video go?
-we played a show for Harley Davidson in st Tropez and our one of our favourite bands “Pretenders” were headlining. We were really excited about it and while we were sound checking by playing our song “Your Kisses Burn Like Fire” I looked up onto this empty beach where the stage was and there was Chrissie on her own headbanging, fist up in the air tour our music. We hung out afterwards and she gave us her number. 2 weeks later I jokingly shoot her a text asking if she wants to be part in a song. She wrote back within 10 seconds “I´m in!”. Our problem was we didn’t even have a song! So we wrote and recorded the song within 2 days and sent it to here. She loved it and so we’ve recorded the song with her in London and filmed it. She really wanted to ride on our choppers so we rode them over there and had the best time ever in London. Chrissie is the best! So grateful to have her in our lives and on this album.
“Howling Wolf” was filmed in Yucca Valley, California and features Imogen Lehtonen. You also drove bikes by Harley Davidson. Super amazing sound on this track, may I say. What instruments did you use? Why California, to shot this video. How did you meet your guest of the video?
-we shot this video in yucca valley. It was all filmed in a half day. One of the bikes was built in just 2 weeks in Riverside, California by our buddy Allan Chadwick at his shop makers Moto. The shoot was interrupted by a severe accident where my dad got hit by a truck. He almost died and spent two weeks in the hospital but came back better than before. This was all the material we still had and so we used it for this video.
“Electric Nights”, released on early January of 2019, was directed by you Claus Grabke, filmed and edited by Claus Grabke, Danny Kötter, “Putte” Backlund, Paul Joy, Olivia Johnston and Fynn Claus Grabke. This video was filmed on your tour throughout Europe, in 2018. How was working with this team? What countries did you visit and you like the most? Who had the idea for the video?
-well they weren’t with us the whole time, it’s just that they were there on some of the shows and filmed it. Mostly my dad and our best friend Danny kötter are responsible for this video. It went great and it was a lot of fun. The video captured it perfectly.
Your self-titled track “The Hands Of Time” is full of surprises. People and friends of LA celebrated with you, Pro Skater Ray Barbee played your first ever show in the US with you, you opened for Dennis Lyxzen and his band, The International Noise Conspiracy. How did you meet these people? Tell us the experience with Ray and Dennis, please.
Ray has been an old skate buddy of my dad and I have known ray since I was a kid. He’s one of my biggest idols same as Dennis. When we got offered to open up for them years ago I was so nervous to meet him but realized real fast that he’s just a very cool, down to earth guy which is something I look for in people I idolize. We became friends over the years and have a lot of things in common like being vegan and stuff. He was in town when we shot the video so it felt perfect to have him in the video along with all of our other friends that believed in us when nobody else in Europe gave a fuck about us.
Any plans in the near future, when this madness ends? Maybe a tour? What countries would you like to visit? And for you personally?
-we don’t plan shit. We go with the flow. Enjoy some family time and record new songs. We’ve been on the „200 shows per year train“ for a while now. It takes a freaking pandemic to stop us from touring so here we are.
What are your favourite bands, while recording this album?
Billie eilish, robyn, Eric church, minor threat…
Thank you so very much. Any final words and info, you would like to share with fellow metalheads of our magazine?