PORTLAND, OREGON-BASED POST-PUNK-INDIE-POP-DANCE ACT PICTORIALS CELEBRATE THE RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT EP, LEARNING
Portland, Oregon-based post-punk-indie-pop-dande act Pictorials are celebrating the release of their debut EP, Learning, on the band's own Deja View Records. Comprised of Morgan Nicholson on vocals and guitar, Mike Moreau on bass, keys, and vocals, and Nate Otani on drums and keys, the trio recorded their debut with engineer and producer Dylan Magierek, of Badman Recording Co., at Type Foundry Studios.
Inspired by the likes of XTC, the Wake, Felt, and Factory and Creation Records, the three set out to make music with textured fun in mind - all on instruments they'd never played before.
Thus Learning is aptly titled. Formed after Nicholson finished touring with Tobacco (Anticon) and Moreau and Otani disbanded Procedures, their electronic project, the Pictorials material came out of a few home recordings off an iPhone with the focus of abandoning their learned instruments for a different music experience.
Otani dropped the bass to learn the drums, which no prior experience; choosing to learn drums on an electronic Simmons kit. Meanwhile, Nicholson, for the first time, fronted the project on guitar and vocals, and Moreau let go of the guitar to pick up the bass, keys, and vocals.
"We didn't know what we were doing - I didn't know," comments Moreau. "The band was just for our friends and us. We didn't necessarily know where we were going to take it, we just knew it was fun and we liked playing with each other."
"The original approach of Pictorials was stepping away from our comfort zones both sonically and instrumentally," furthers Nicholson. "We wanted to learn a new approach entirely. Since we didn't really have a direction to begin with, some of the music we listen to - XTC, Felt, Claire Records, Creation Records' bands and such - was coming into our tone already, so we stuck with that sound from the beginning."
But, that isn't the only reason the band decided to title the EP Learning. They had never recorded at a professional studio before, or with a professional engineer and producer.
Only a band for four months, they played a show in Portland. One of the concert goers was Badman Recording Co. founder, and local engineer/producer, Dylan Magierek, who approached the band after their set and asked if they wanted to record an EP.
"Dylan approached us after a pretty difficult live set, so it wasn't like we were expecting anything to really come out of it," says Nicholson. "At any rate, Dylan appreciated at least one of our songs enough to take us into the studio."
Magierek took them into Type Foundry Studios, where the band recorded six songs; four appear on Learning and the other two left-over tracks that may surface on a future release by the band.
"To prepare for the studio, we were on a five-hour rehearsal schedule three times a week, which then came out in the form of the four songs that comprise the existing EP and 2 left over tracks," recalls Nicholson. "When we finally made it into the recording studio we didn’t want Dylan to know we were so naive to the actual experience. We tinkered around with instruments and microphones as if we knew what we were doing. In addition, we played our songs significantly better than we intended, so we ended up being fooled ourselves. How we approached the recordings was with the decision that we would take no more than five takes a song. We also limited over dubs to keep it as organic as possible. Some parts were written on the spot and flaws were kept intact. We wanted to capture the naivety we were experiencing and learning from leading up to the recording, because we feel that it loaned itself a sonic advantage of what we wanted. After all, the Type Foundry sessions are the first time we had recorded in a studio, and would also be the first time we were able to hear every detail of our songs."
Following the recording session, the band also got the opportunity to hit the road and support Black Moth Super Rainbow on a sold-out nationwide club tour.
What originally was intended as a simple escape from the banalities of the everyday happenings that Otani, Moreau, and Nicholson were involved in, had become a full-time project - that was growing as organically as the songs themselves.
Combining post-punk elements with more modern dance-oriented rhythms, Pictorials is a fine fit next to many of yesterday's Creation, Factory, and Rough Trade releases their sound recalls.