Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on theMorning Show with John Richards, is “Hacienda Motel” by Pickwick from their debut self-released EP Myths Vol. 1.
Oftentimes it’s easier to blend-in rather than stand-out, yet that is exactly what today’s artist, Seattle rock/soul/popsters Pickwick wanted to avoid doing when they found themselves in a sea of artists caught up in a scene. Now today, almost four years later, they have established a niche for themselves and their music, including the incredibly addicting “Hacienda Motel,” can be heard throughout the city-on the air, blaring out of clubs, and between the pop and hiss on record players. They’ve taken the concepts of blue-eyed soul and put it in the context of indie pop, the result of which has hips swaying, and hearts swooning when they hear singer Galen Disston’s voice croon.
Pickwick’s Michael Parker and Galen Disston talk about finding their voice as musicians and the almost zen-like way they let nature take its course.
In a city that has a prevalent folk scene and increasing national attention for our hip hop scene, what has it been like for you having to carve out your own nook as a soul/rock/pop band?
Galen Disston: When we first started out a few years ago we were defiantly trying to fit more into the mold of ‘indie folk’ that’s become so synonymous with this city over the past 5 years or so. Michael played pedal steel, Cassady played accordion; it was a completely different band.
After trying that for a year it was discouraging that our sound was still so derivative of Ryan Adams and Wilco; but not nearly as good. Nothing seemed fresh or exciting and in all honesty we weren’t really making music that we were all that proud of. Everything kind of came to a head when Michael and I had a conversation about possibly breaking up the band and in a last ditch effort to try and save the band we stumbled upon this sound.
I think that because we’re drawing from influences that aren’t as common right now it sets us apart a little bit from a lot of bands in Seattle. I feel like that’s been a big plus for us over the past few months as people have been hearing our music for the first time and coming to our shows to dance.
What is it about soul music that you most identify with?
Michael Parker: Well to be clear, I wouldn’t exactly call what we’re doing “soul” music in the traditional sense. It’s definitely a major influence, but we’re also trying to put our own spin on it.
I think what we’ve all identified with and draw from on those classic 60’s &70’s soul records is the combination of passion, groove, and melody that the artists from that time seemed to possess. The energy on those old R&B/Soul tunes is undeniable. Those folks put 100% of themselves behind the vocal and the performance. It’s really inspiring stuff to listen to. On top of that, it’s music that forces you to interact with it physically. I don’t know know of anyone who can listen to the opening riff of a song like “Superstition” without bobbing their head or tapping their foot. Nick Drake is great, but his music doesn’t make you do that.
How did you guys all meet and come together for this project?
Galen: eHarmony. It’s great, they give you personally tests and everything.
What’s your songwriting process? Is there a primary songwriter or are you guys more collaborative?
Michael: As far as the writing process goes each song presents itself in a different way. Cassady and I are generally the ones that get the ball moving in the early stages of a song, but we all have an equal say in how something turns out and the best idea always wins. It’s a very collaborative process that all six of us are a part of. Galen writes all of the lyrics and draws inspiration from the mind altering drug experiences he had as a pre-teen in Brazil… do you think that’s true?
What can you tell me about “Hacienda Motel?”
Michael: “Hacienda Motel” was actually the first song that we wrote after deciding to scrap the indie folk thing and try something new. I was playing around with the opening riff while Galen was upstairs in the bathroom (true story). As I was playing he began singing over the guitar part and came up with the melody. When he came downstairs he continued to sing while Garrett came up with his bassline. Matt followed suite on the drums and Cassady pitched in with the idea to add the “ahhs” to intro and outro. In about a half hour we had a full fledged song in a new genre.
“Hacienda Motel” was by far the easiest song for us to write up to that point and quickly became a song that we were all very proud of. It added a much needed jolt of life back into the band and made us excited about making music again.
Galen, have you always had the fro? At what point did you decide to let nature take its course?
Galen: I was at Boy Scout camp the summer after 7th grade and puberty hit and brought me a fro. Since then I’ve just let it have its way with me.
Well, there’s no fighting nature.
Pickwick was live on the Morning Show earlier this week (Wednesday at 9:30 — check out the archives). They’ll also be part of Sound on the Sound’s 5th Anniversary party at the Columbia City Theater on 8/5 along with American Girls and The Mallard. You can also catch them later this summer at Doe Bay and Bumbershoot. More dates and info on their website or Myspace page.
Here they are playing “Hacienda Motel” live on the Morning Show just two days ago!