George Harrison’s post-Beatles output is overrated and The Monkees are criminally underrated. At least that is the case according to William Daymond from The Pickups. The Christchurch three-piece gave us an email interview with UTR recently and talked a lot about The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the aforementioned Monkees. There are definitely worse things to have a conversation about.
The core trio of The Pickups are myself (William Daymond) on vocals and guitar, Jared Kelly on bass and Isaac Mawson on drums, although we have had extra members and special guests join us over the years.
Tell us the epic tale of your creation…
Isaac and I met at high school in our 6th form year in early 2000, when we were both 16. By the end of the year we were rehearsing on a regular basis as a two-piece, and spent most of the following year writing new material and getting tighter as a band.
We first played live at the Wunderbar in Lyttelton on 23 March 2002 under the name The Twin Towers (we named ourselves this, believe it or not, on September 10, 2001, as a reference to us being a two piece). We continued to play for the rest of the year, although at some point we changed our name to The Distractions. We took most of 2003 off while I played with Adam McGrath in The Sweethearts (a sort of early version of The Eastern).
We started playing as a two piece again under the name The Pickups in October 2003, however it was soon blatantly obvious to us that whilst being a two piece was a good idea in theory, we needed a bass player to fill out the sound, and we started looking for a potential candidate. It wasn’t till mid 2004 that we met Jared Kelly, who had recently moved to Christchurch from Timaru. By late 2004 we were rehearsing as a three piece, and played our first live show as a three piece on 9 October 2004 at Mainstreet Cafe, Christchurch.
Over the next three years we played live on a very regular basis, developing and working at our reputation as a good live band with well written songs, and for a period (September 2005 to April 2006) were joined by Isaac’s then girlfriend Bri Yaakoup on keyboards, who left us to concentrate on her involvement in Frase + Bri. We recorded most of our set in January 2007 with Marcus Winstanely at All Plastic Studios, however due to unforeseen delays involving mixing, mastering and completing the artwork the album was only able to be pressed in April this year (for example, when it came to mixing, due toconflicting time schedules we could only meet up every Sunday. On average we were able to mix one song per session, and with there being 14 songs to mix, and in some instances there ended being 5 or 6 different completed mixes of a song, the whole mixing process ended up taking over 4 months to complete).
In July 2007 we were put on temporary hiatus due to Isaac moving to Wellington, however with both Jared and I relocating to Wellington this year we have started to rehearse and play live again to promote the new album, and also to write new material. We will tour nationwide later on this year.
Do you think Christchurch has been a stimulating place to make music?
I found Christchurch to be a satisfactory and adequate place to develop as a band; I would have never described the town itself as “stimulating” in any shape or form.
Describe the defining moments that made you want to make music:
Listening to the Beatles for the first time when I was five made me want to play the guitar. Seeing Paul McCartney live when I was nine made me want to play live. Listening to Secret Box by The Chills when I was sixteen gave me the the confidence and impetus to write songs on a regular basis.
Apart from music, what else do you guys get up to?
Isaac and I play in a few other bands (ie. Cougar Cougar Cougar, Full Moon Fiasco, Red Country, Terror of the Deep, etc…) and we also go to university. Jared works full time.
What aisle would you slot into at your local record store?
If there was a Psychedelic Pop Rock section we would fit into that perfectly, but let’s face the facts, if you are a local band then you are going to be lumped in the “New Zealand / Local” section, regardless of what genre of music you make.
What artists have really got you excited lately?
This is a somewhat broad answer, but I relocated to Wellington in February, and in the three and a half months it took me to find a flat I had all my records and CD’s in storage, some of which I, up until then, listened to on a daily basis. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and when I finally found a flat and got all that material out of storage and checked out after nearly four months, to describe that as exciting is an understatement.
Describe the collaboration/writing process
In most cases I have the songs more or less finished by the time I present it to the band, however normally in rehearsal we will work on the structure of the song and make any changes there.
Local: Martin Phillipps. International: Neil Young.
What’s the best thing about making music? Again, somewhat of a broad answer, but to see a song that you have written develop from just something you play around with in your room on guitar, then it being taught to the rest of the band, playing it live on a regular basis, recording it in a studio and then getting it preserved for eternity on replicated CD is a very satisfying and rewarding experience.
What gets you down about being in the music industry?
One thing about being a band in a small place like Christchurch is that it dosen’t really matter how good your songs are, how talented you are or how strong your work ethic is, basically if you are in a band the most important things are a) knowing the right people, and b) making music that is markateble in some shape or form. As a result I have seen some awesome bands get their noses turned up at because they either too old, don’t have the “correct” dress sense or don’t have good contacts. I have also seen some horrible bands get far more attention than they deserve simply because they are friends with the right people, and have a guest DJ with a pissfringe and a laptop computer.
Craziest on-stage antics experienced thus far?
I can think of a few; a very disgruntled local resident threw a chair at us midway through our first ever performance as a three piece with Jared (Mainstreet Café, Christchurch, 9 October 2004). As a result I had to write a 4 page report of the incident for the City Council. A very overweight and drunk dude in his 40’s with a long curly mullet and a novelty Jack Daniels jacket started heckling us at a performance at Al’s Bar, Christchurch in early 2006; Jared and I made a few offensive retorts back to him and he walked onstage with the presumed intention of picking a fight with us, however Al had to intervene at the last minute and kick the guy out.
Best concert you’ve ever been to?
When I was nine I saw Paul McCartney (with Linda on keyboards) live at Western Springs Auckland. It was awesome and unquestionably changed my life.
Who would you be willing to commit a serious offence for a chance to see live?
The Monkees (original 60’s lineup, with Nesmith). The Kinks, or at least the Davies brothers reunited on the same stage. The surviving members of The Beach Boys. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr together.
Name someone who’s really overrated in music.
George Harrison’s solo material. A close friend of mine and I listened to, in chronological order, the entire Beatles solo back catalogue and unquestionably George has the least to offer out of the four of them. The only good album that he ever released is All Things Must Pass, and even that is far too long.
And someone who’s criminally underrated?
I think The Monkees are unquestionably the most underrated band in music history. They have so many myths surrounding them that many ignorant music fans believe and turn their noses up at them, despite the fact they are responsible for some of the most enduring songs of the 20th century. Also Paul McCartney’s solo career / Wings.
The state of NZ music is:
It’s somewhat of a double edged sword. Whilst there are probably the more opportunities available to NZ musicians than there has ever been before, its also probably the most unoriginal it has ever been, with too many depressingly bad carbon copies of international based acts being played on the television and radio to fill the quota when far more original and unique material goes unnoticed. NZ On Air should get it’s act together too, did they really need to fund six Boh Runga videos over the period of a year when there are many other bands who can’t even afford to lay down their set in a basic studio let alone release something?
If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be:
A Lion Tamer.