Interview With Picnic Lightning

What was the beginning pint for your music career? How did it all start? 

We’ve all been playing music for quite a while – we’ve heard tales that Cole (lead guitarist) was born singing a little diddy. We each found our own way to music individually, and then found our way to each other by mostly happenstance and good fortune. While a few of the guys had been playing together since high school, they found Cam “Cam Baldwin” after hanging at a party, and Picnic Lightning was born in 2013. 

Was there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with? 

Any band that has a completely smooth ride should be packaging and selling whatever they’re doing at a high markup. We’re lucky that we haven’t had any big challenges are major bumps. Of course there are the usual initial kinks of “how do we create art together” and “how do we communicate our ideas so each other can hear them” but that’s all normal stuff for a creative project. The main challenge that sticks out was when we were working on promoting our first S/T LP about five years ago. We were working with a PR group and started to have some good traction, and then it all kind of trickled away. While that can happen naturally, we found out about a year later that there was some scandal involving the founder at the company, causing a lot of people to cut ties with them. The business is all about relationships, and while we’re glad to be away from that one, it really took some of our momentum for a while, but we’re back at it now. 

What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far? 

One of the lessons we’ve learned since starting is to celebrate the successes as they come. If we keep waiting for that “one big moment” we’re going to miss a lot of good ones along the way. A few key moments: recording the initial EP because it sounded exactly like we had hoped; hearing the feedback on the new singles; recording these new singles with Taylor Tatsch down in the Texas Hill Country – just a great experience with a very cool dude. 

How would you describe the music that you typically create? 

Raw and brooding desert punk, the sound of summer heat and dimly lit clubs. Dark, post-everything wall of sound howls like a dust storm, delivering a spiritual stomp that dwells in the shadowland of trenchant questions and orphic revelations. Our songs deftly touch the inexhaustible complexities of life and do so with sonics as singular as the individual human experience. They croon and holler, stomp and 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. The band’s mantra from day one has been: let no one suffer. A blog once called us “southern gothic psych” so that works too if you’re looking for something shorter. 

What is your creative process like? 

We have a collaborative approach to songwriting, with some songs starting as a guitar riff, some as a (way too long) jam, one of Thomas’ poems, or even a drumbeat. We try to stay fairly judicious with the songwriting process, trimming as much fat as possible, and not shoehorning individual ideas just because we like them. We’re also open to rewriting songs we’ve played for years. Overall, we stick to our mantra: let no one suffer. 

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be? 

The industry often feels completely unrelated to the music itself. Even the process of having to find a “genre” (necessary for advertising, playlist pitches, features, etc) can feel in conflict with the music process: music is collaborative and evolving as we continue to make it, so while we will always be “rock”, are we psych? metal? post? You get the idea. The other consistent challenge is that this industry requires either access or a serious amount of cash flow. Even if you’re the best musician in the world, if you don’t have those things, you might as well keep your concerts at home (industry-wise, that is). That’s definitely changing with technology and its affordability, but to create more avenues in this industry for folks who don’t have rich parents, that would be a game changer in increasing diversity in the wider music community. 

If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be? 

Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s a creative outlet: be disciplined, and love the process. With that, don’t expect it to come easy: the creative journey winds to many places, most of them unexpected. Also, write intentionally. Write songs, sounds, lyrics, etc that only you can make. Think about what you want to say and then find the best way to say it, not the other way around. And trim the fat: the idea may be good, but putting it in the right place is what makes is great.Lastly, find a band member who can fund the project. 

What has been the best performance of your career so far? 

Our best show was the second time around at the Boiled Owl – a local dive with a tiny makeshift stage in the corner. It was a sticky summer night with a rowdy wall to wall crowd, a great lineup, and good friends. Nothing like a home field advantage. 

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now? 

We each have our revenue generators as the band gains momentum. Thomas is an accomplished (and published) poet and author, and you can usually find him reading, writing, or hanging with his cats. Cole is a wicked graphic designer and you can find his pop culture-inspired t-shirt designs at John is a communications professional, and Cam is a licensed social worker and mindfulness teacher. 

What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world? 

We’ve got 2 singles out: Over My Head & Six Feet Under are available everywhere. We’ve got a few more coming out soon, with the next one in September.. We also have our back catalog on all platforms. Stream it everywhere and buy some merch from us here: Merch Link