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Picture This: In Conversation With Ryan Hennessy

Irish pop rock four piece, Picture This, release anticipated album, Parked Car Conversations. Lead singer Ryan Hennessey speaks to Darkus Magazine about the creation of the album.

Thank you for joining us Ryan. For those that don’t know the band, tell us a little bit of the history of the band. 

Ryan: We’re a band from a town called Athy in County Kildare in Ireland where the four of us all grew up and and been together since we released our first song in October 2015,called “Take My Hand”, Which I personally didn't know what was going to happen from that moment on because I was so new to music. I didn't even know you could have a song on the radio or anything like that. And that song ended up just going massive or all around Ireland and being played on national radio. And from there all these dreams just kept unfolding. 

We sold out the Academy on our first show and ended up going on to play five nights in the three arena and all of these things in between and got signed in the US and started building a fan base in the UK. And it's just been kind of up and up the whole time from the beginning, which I feel very, very grateful for. And we just make big pop tunes, really. 

It’s been the 8th year anniversary of “Take My Hand” and you’ve played Dublin for two nights where you introduced “Parked Car Conversations” for the first time. Thoughts on playing Dublin? 

Ryan: It was crazy. It was like playing, you know, on those shows, like when you take both “Parked Car Conversations” and “Take my Hand” into account, it's like we got to play Take My Hand there eight years later. It was just like I was reliving every memory of the past eight years. You know, it's like it all culminates at that certain point. And then getting to play. 

Parked car conversations in the same set was a really nice kind of tie over of when we were playing that I was imagining the next 8 years of the band, so to get to play ball with them in Dublin at that time in the same set. It was like a really cool moment and it felt like a bridge into the next era of the band. 

There’s already been a couple of single releases. What have been your standouts already from these releases?

Ryan:  For me, I have to say two. I'd have to say “Get on My Love” because that was our first song back, after not releasing music for like a year or whatever it was and I just didn't know what to expect. One, because we had been away for a year, and two, because it was a completely new kind of sound, it was still definitely like authentic Picture This but it starts off with a choir, you know? And it's like we've never even dipped our toe in that kind of world. So to see how well received that was was incredible and it's big!! It’s been our biggest success outside of Ireland with Germany and Switzerland that went really, really well. It's like top 20 radio there and we've got this whole new amazing Russian fanbase to come and discover our band. 

The other song is “Call It Love”, because that was always one of my personal favourites on the album. I've always just loved it. And when we released that, it wasn't like a single, you know, we didn't get it radio play or anything. We just released it to give the fans more music and just for like Spotify and Apple Music. So it wasn't like a big push, but it actually ended up being one of our biggest songs in the last few years. 

Like, it just really, really connected. And that was a really great moment because I find “Call It Love” is the best kind of indicator of the rest of the album. If you listen to Call It Love, I think when you hear the album, then you know, it's a really good, like, flagship song for the album. So they'll be my 2 standards, I think. 

Listening to the album and throughout, you get a mix of different levels of love and self love. Has that been a focus of the album? 

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely! That is, I think the two words that I always go back to when I think of what is the album truly about? It's love and connection. Really, you know, and that's exactly what you said. It's that it can be self love or love in our relationship or friendship love, and it can always be. Same goes for connection. 

It can be being connected to yourself for somebody that you love. And that's kind of like where the title comes from of parked car conversations. I've had so many deep conversations, life changing conversations and connections with people, um, in cars. And I think most journalists should actually do what you're doing and do all the zooms from cars. I think it's very unbranded. I like it. 

There was a delay releasing the album, but what helped you to decide that now was the right time to finally share it with the world, taking into consideration some of the comments from the fans who have been showing any music from Picture Love nothing but love?

Ryan: Yeah it's been it's been amazing and I think I'm so glad that we pushed it back and and we were very transparent as well when we announced it was like because I know a lot of artists kind of pushed back albums for various reasons and they usually say oh we just want to make the album as perfect as it can be. 

But a lot of the time that's not the reason you know. So we wanted to be as conscientious as we could when we announced that. We want to release more songs because we’re in the climate like now that feels like a lot of albums once they go to the streaming services songs just got lost. 

The albums aren't consumed in the way they used to be. So I think it was really important for us to be like no we want to get these songs out like more songs before the bulk of the album and a song like call it love never would have had that chance and it ended up being our biggest streaming song of the last 

God knows how long, people really connected with it. So it's really nice and it feels really nice to be coming up to the album now because it was supposed to be in September of last year. So it was, it was a tough decision, but it was the right one. And it feels great. 

That's amazing even to know like that you've heard you're the first person outside of our camp that I've spoken to. That's heard the album in any way, shape or form. So it's cool to be getting into that area now where people are starting here. 

Along with the album launch, you’ve included a limited edition songbook, where did the idea come from to include this with the album?

Ryan: I think it comes from a couple of things. It comes from our love of bands and classic bands and all of the amazing memorabilia that they have, like all of our favourite bands such as bands like Oasis, Queen, The Eagles, Sallies, Iconic, Metallica, all those bands. We have these amazing keepsakes that you have. Like I have so much Oasis stuff and even the 1975's really good at having those things that really mean something to a fan. You know it's more than a CD, more than a vinyl, even though they're amazing. 

So it was like we wanted to do something like that, with this album because this album means so much to us. And the other reason really was because we have all these incredible stories that have happened over the years that not a lot of people know about and we talk about them a lot. 

Whenever we tell people, they're always kind of mind blown about our background and it was kind of important for us to let our fans know and anybody who is interested in this to let them into our world that little bit more. So there's all these stories that nobody's ever heard before in there and photos that nobody's ever seen. There was one I was looking through recently that I'd never seen before. I don't even remember somebody being there taking that photo, you know. So it's like, I think it's going to be an amazing keepsake for a fan. 

When you look at all the different pictures you gathered, are there any that sort of stick out for you for sentimental reasons?

Ryan: Yeah, there's a couple. It's actually back when we were in Miami. There's a couple of photos in there that I hadn't seen. We were in Miami way back in 2017 because we were playing a show in LA and then we were playing at this conference thing, it was somewhere in Florida and then we had 4 days in between. So we just went on a holiday to Miami and there's photos from that. And I just remember it was my first time kind of being anywhere like that. Bbefore the band I'd only ever been outside of the country to go to Manchester. That was it, because I have family there, you know? So once we started travelling, my mind was just blown going to the US and all of that. 

So whenever I look back through the book and I see photos from the US like that Miami trip or all the times we spent in LA, there's a lot of memories that come rushing back off. Just how kind of eye opening those times were, you know, and they were all just amazing. I can just see the joy and all the photos of how much fun we were having, which is really nice. 

Going back to the album, a song that stood out was “Song to Myself”. It comes across as a battle with your own mind and self doubt. We’re all aware how difficult it is for men to discuss their mental health. What would you say is the meaning behind the song?

Ryan: Yeah, You're interpreting exactly how I intended it to be interpreted. It's a funny one because I never intended on anybody hearing that song. That song was heard mistakenly in the studio once I played it off my phone to Jimmy when I meant to play something else. And then he was like, oh, what is that? And then I was like, oh, and I kind of had to play it because that song really was just an exercise for me to express how I was feeling because I'm somebody who goes to therapy and works on myself and all of that. But sometimes it's hard to say. 

It's hard to be so brutally honest and in that song there's a line like I wish that people would like me more, you know? And I think people don't really say that ever. But I think everybody feels it, you know. But that's what it kind of felt comfortable for me to put it in a song. When I was writing, it was like, it's way more comfortable for me to do that than to say that to somebody. 

So it was literally basically a diary entry that I sang out on a guitar and then accidentally played it for Jimmy. And he heard it, it was like people really need to hear this song. He was like, that you would be doing yourself and people out there a disservice by not putting it out there.  

When he said that I was like, wow, yeah, that's, you know, that was a really poignant way of putting it. Even if it would just help. And it's the cliche thing that everybody says, but even if it would just help one person, that was going to be enough for me because I've been with people before and I know how amazing and liberating that is. 

So putting that song out and seeing lots of people say to me all the time that that song means a lot to them. So I know it's helped many people. And that's like, that's exactly why you do what you do. That's like that's the heart of why you're a songwriter and why you're in a band. It's to help people you know. 

The album comes across as a bit of a journey. Is there any song you’re excited for fans to hear?

Ryan: Yeah, I think a song that I'm really excited for people to hear who haven't heard it live is Parked Car Conversation, because I think that kind of sums up the whole album.

 That's why we named the album that and it was a song that I always wanted to write. I've always wanted to write a song about my friendship with Jimmy, really. That's where that was born out of. 

We wrote that song together and so I'm really excited for people to hear that and I'm just excited for people in general to hear the kind of sound of the whole thing. 

There's a lot of big group vocals on a lot of the songs, which is something that we've kind of been teasing with getting my love and call it love. I'm excited for people really just to step into the world of it and hopefully you can hear that you know, we recorded that album on the tiny island in Norway called Dusk and the only thing on the island is the studio and it was just us in the studio together and just being in a room, singing together, playing together. 

When I listen to it, I feel that energy and I feel that in the song. So I'm excited to see if people really feel that too. 

Now that we’ve spoken about some of the individual songs on the album, as a whole, can you sum up the album?

Ryan: I hope it comes across like this because it's what it is. It's a celebration of love and connection and the good, bad, ugly, beautiful sides of both of those things. Because there are such multifaceted emotions and feelings, and I go through so many emotions and feelings myself personally when it comes to relationships and friendships and dynamics and connecting with people and disconnecting from people. 

Sometimes, you know, so the album really is a celebration of all of those things, whether they're good or they're bad, they're all reminders that you're alive. You know, love to me is always a reminder that I'm a living, breathing thing. 

And it's when I feel intense love that's like the greatest feeling in the world to me. And I am very lucky that I have great relationships and friendships in my life and that we have an amazing fan base because there's no greater feeling of love than standing on stage and having 20,000 people sing your lyrics back to you. T

That's such a reassuring feeling. And I think that energy is encapsulated in this album. So it's a celebration of love and connection and of life. 

An album that we’ve had to wait for but one that comes polished and full of meaning of love and connection as Ryan has discussed. “Parked Car Conversations” is out now on all major platforms. 

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Article By Dave Shaw

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