ThePicassos recently released a fine record and I reviewed it for this zine.
I was about time for me to talk to the guys in the band a bit about everything, the new record, horror, life and all other themes we thought of.
FIRST OF ALL, WELCOME TO KRAYKULLA WEBZINE. I THINK IT IS YOUR FIRST INTERVIEW FOR SOME MEDIA IN CROATIA, SO PLEASE INTRODUCE THE BAND TO READERS WHO DON´T KNOW YOU YET. HOW COME THE NAME OF THE BAND, DO YOU LIKE PICASSO AND ART OR IS IT A COINCIDENCE?
Greetings and thank you for taking the time for having us and listening to our haunting tones.
We are a 3 piece of occult practitioners consisting of :
Charles Urban – Guitar/Vocals/lyricist
Dan Lowe – Bass Guitar/backing vocals s
Thorin Murphy-Fahlgren – Drums/banjo/keyboards/accordion/backing vocals/auxiliary percussion.
We attempt to perform live séances originating in the dark sides of metro Detroit, MI, USA. This is indeed our first international interview and we couldn’t be more tickled to be hosted on your site and help spread our death-positive messages – as for Pablo Picasso as an artist it’s less of a tribute to the person and more the concept of looking at things creatively and in the mindset of visual artists in general. Specifically as many painters are only ever truly revered after death.
TALK OF THE DAY IS YOUR NEW RELEASE OUT VERY SOON. WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE NEW RECORD? HOW WAS THE WRITING AND RECORDING PROCESS? WHERE CAN WE GET/BUY YOUR NEW RECORD? WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR LYRICAL INSPIRATION FROM?
Charles: Yes indeed, we released exclusively on digital release in time for our Samhain celebrations here, we are currently streaming this and our first single released last year (on occult day, no less) on all streaming platforms with potential plans for a physical release compilation down the road. We were fortunate enough to get together back in early February (pre-pandemic) to track these numbers and unfortunately haven’t been all together since then. It was a very quick recording process as we have written and lived with these songs for about a year before we put them to tape.
As for lyrical inspiration I’m inspired by horror films and stories – and in part from my time as a cemetery worker – the message of “Memento Mori” our title track of the E.P. translates to “remember you will die” is simply that: we are all destined to cross the fresh (threshold?) hold of life into death at the end of our lives. It’s singularly the thing all life has in common. We don’t wish to live in fear of death and if anything the acceptance of death is the freedom to live your life as full and completely as one can. A “seize the day” sentiment more than anything.
DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELVES A HORROR PUNK BAND? OR IS YOUR MUSIC IN A WAY AN AMALGAMATION OF EACH AND EVERY OF YOUR MUSIC INFLUENCES?
Charles: It’s difficult to classify us as we have such a wide array of influences- we definitely would like to claim “horror punk “ influenced as bands like Misfits and the Cramps have informed parts of our sound. But we also have a love for alternative and folk bands, The Decemberists, The Cranberries – and experimental unclassifible artists like Tom Waits really stretched the creative license to take any sound or influence and stretch it farther than it has before.
Dan: Which is why I think we really went with the name of ThePicassos. It allowed a creative freedom and doesn’t box us in. The genres become our medium beyond the instruments. We’re able to really create what we want. It really helps to overall message reach more ears.
Thorin: I definitely agree with both Charles and Dan, I think our sound comes from a pretty wide variety of influences, and we have a pretty varied sound. We’re certainly some kind of horror, though I’m not sure I’d say punk is a very pervasive sound in our repertoire. When I think of punk, I think of fast and aggressive and either angry or angsty, and I don’t see a lot of that in our music. We usually like to take things a little more slowly and with bigger drama and dynamics. But we have a few songs in our back catalog that have a bit more of a punk vibe going on, and I’m really looking forward to when we can get together again to start getting all our back catalog material together for release.
DO YOU PLAY GIGS? HAVE YOU TOURED OR POSSIBLE TOURED EUROPE OR OUTSIDE USA?
Regrettably, we have yet to make it out of the US, and this past year certainly didn’t help that matter. But it would be a dream to get out to Europe and share our sounds with other parts of the world. We only hope they would have us!
HOW ARE THINGS IN YOUR HOMETOWN GOING? WHAT KIND OF CITY IS YOUR HOMETOWN? DO YOU HAVE A SCENE, BANDS, VENUES?
Charles: We came up in the DIY punk scene in the Detroit area and that gave us a lot of appreciation for any rooms we can fill. We thrive in art collective venues – and spaces with a lot of collaborative soul. We don’t have too many bands that share our sonic tastes locally – but have a heavy dose of garage rock in our sound in a city known for MC5 and the Stooges so that helps on a variety bill on occasion.
Dan: Also I’m pretty sure Charles has been described as a gothic Jack White so that doesn’t hurt local shows either.
HOW IS LIVING IN USA NOW AFTER TRUMP LOST THE ELECTION AND HOW IS LIVING WITH ALL THAT COVID EPIDEMIC? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO PAY YOUR BILLS?
Charles: It’s a relief! It’s still a scary time to be living in, but the reality that we are nearly done with the Trump years is a major weight lifted. As I mentioned I work at a cemetery so that has been a stressful time – a necessary job to help those that have seen the caustic effects of the virus on a personal level. It’s been rough but rewarding.
Dan: I think we have been very fortunate in that our lives don’t necessarily rely on making money from this. Obviously that’s a dream as well to be able to support yourself with your art. But we are very fortunate I can only imagine how hard this is. As for Trump, good riddance but I think there is still so much work to be done beyond the next four years. There’s a lot of distrust and irreversible damage however this is a step in the right direction.
Thorin: The thing about Trump losing the election is that he’s refusing to admit defeat and he’s been filing a bunch of lawsuits and making ridiculous, unfounded claims of widespread election fraud, so for us, the election turmoil isn’t over yet even though we know Trump isn’t reelected. As for COVID, I could go on and on about so many different things about the pandemic, but I’ll just say that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, who’s the head of one of our national legislative bodies, are both responsible for killing several hundred thousand people here in the US and ruining millions of lives with their disgusting lack of leadership, and I can only hope we find some way to hold them responsible for what they’ve done.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MOVIES/BOOKS/BANDS THAT YOU SAW/READ/LISTENED LATELY TO RECOMMEND?
Charles: I know I don’t need to recommend Netflix these days – but very much enjoyed “Devil all the time” with Tom Holland, just a relentless depressive departure into depravity so a high recommendation for those who haven’t. Also the Ratched series which led to a thoughtful viewing of the original “One flew over the cuckoos nest” is worth the time to immerse yourself in that time period.
As for books I’ve been thumbing through Neil Gaimans “Graveyard Book” (we would be happy to provide a soundtrack for the eventual screenplay)
Dan: My wife and I have been watching a few shows about cults from the years. I think the one we watched was on Showtime from People Magazine and on Netflix one is called “Wild Wild Country”. That was a trip, highly recommended and a great soundtrack too.
DO YOU STILL REMEMBER WHAT DREW YOU INTO THE MUSIC SCENE, YOUR FIRST SHOW OR SOMETHING THAT INSPIRED YOU TO START PLAYING MUSIC?
Charles: I was in theater and marching band in school and that definitely informed a taste for performance and theatrics- it took a few years of playing other people’s notes and saying their words that began the itch to start using my own.
The real eye opening experience was in high school I went to a production of Sweeney Todd at the Detroit Opera House that the actors were also playing live instruments in character to provide the score.
Dan: I grew up wanting to play music, but I also did my share of theater which definitely helps drive the performance itch AND helps make you a better performer. My first local show was actually one of the very FIRST incarnations of ThePicassos in which their bass player had quit prior to the show. So I joined afterwards. ALSO the local community theater is how Charles and I met about 10 years ago.
Thorin: Oh wow ok so it’s really funny that Charles mentioned The Cranberries earlier, because my first inspiration to make music, according to my mother, was when I was a few months old and I would sing the beginning of The Cranberries’ song “Ode To My Family” (but apparently I always refused to sing for my doctor, who wanted so badly to hear me sing). So I guess creating music is something I’ve always been inclined to do. But the first time I consciously recognized any desire or inspiration to play music was when I was seven years old and my brother Trystan started playing drums in his high school marching band, and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever,
ALSO, WHAT WAS THE CATALYST THAT DREW YOU INTO MORE DARKER HORROR SIDE OF THINGS?
Charles: I think growing up watching the Universal monster movies, feeling such a familiar tie with Frankenstein’s monster and Bela Lugosi they feel like relatives I’ve never met. So it just stays with you and that isn’t something you run from.
WHY IS THERE SO MUCH BEAUTY IN HORROR?
Charles: Horror tends to be the fear or threat of death, and in life we know it’s fleeting. A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts forever, but since the flowers only bloom some of the time we take note. The color palate of deep reds into inky black. I think one can’t help but look at the genre like a painting in a museum.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HORROR SUBGENRE? MINE IS GOLDEN ERA SLASHER, HAMMER OLD SCHOOL HORROR AND YUP, FOUND FOOTAGE!
Charles: Absolutely top notch picks! I’ll always love the universal Silver screen monsters. But I’ve been coming to appreciate the 80s slashers in a new light as the next generation of classic monsters. Though my favorite flavor is a good physiological thriller – Silence of the Lambs and the like.
Dan: I was and still am into the really (really) bad horror movies. The cheesier the better. Always was a big fan of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre I have the third one and worst one on vhs somewhere. Charles has been telling me to watch “Silence of the Lambs” for years and I still haven’t.
Thorin: I actually don’t really watch horror movies or anything. Well, really, I don’t watch movies at all unless it’s with a friend or something. I saw one really good found footage movie once, though: Troll Hunter. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t seen it, it’s a bit of a trip.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE HOLDING IN STORE FOR THEPICASSOS?
Charles: We have plenty more songs that have yet to be recorded and heard, if the world allows we would love to talk touring – however I think the safe bet is more music coming out to stream. We are talking to some filmographers about some videos.. so stay tuned in!
THIS INTERVIEW HAS COME TO AN END. IT WAS A PLEASURE. ANY WISE WORDS IN THE END?
Dan: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME!
Thorin: Thank you for having us, and please, to everyone reading this: please stay safe!
Charles: This was a splendid time for us as well! We appreciate the time and consideration – and the kind words in our Ep Review – so thank you, and Remember You Will Die.