Picture Atlantic

Interviewed by Meghan Logue at Noise Pop 2009

Here's a podcast of our interview with Picture Atlantic:

Rico: I'm Rico Rodriguez and I play drums.

Nick: I'm Nick Bartunek and I sing and play guitar.

Rico: And we play in Picture Atlantic. Is this too loud? Okay, cool.

Meghan: First question, who thought up the name and how?

Rico: You'll have to talk to him.

Nick: We actually had a previous drummer, before Rico. This was a really, really long time ago. We really liked going to the beach. It was summer of 2006 or something like that so we were trying to come up with a name and we came up with Picture Atlantic. I don't know why we came up with those words, but there was a Thrice song called "Atlantic."

Rico: In a lot of ways it doesn't make sense because were on the beach of the Pacific Ocean, but some of the best things in life don't make sense, so that's alright.

Meghan: I appreciate that.

Meghan: So you guys all are pretty young, if that's not a sensitive topic. Young to the point that you can't actually stick around in the club after you've played the show?

Nick: I can! I just recently turned 21.

Rico: I'm 22.

Meghan: Oh, so you guys can. How old are all of your members? Somebody told me you were all in high school. That's not accurate?

NICK: No!

RICO: No. I'm 21. Nick's 22. How old is Ryan?

NICK: Ryan is 20. Patrick, our guitar player, is 19. Our keyboard player Brian is, like, 37.

Rico: Yeah.

Meghan: So you guys buy the booze?

Nick: Yeah, I guess. I don't drink very much, so....

Rico: I don't drink at all. I actually never drink.

Meghan: What are you waiting for, if you don't mind my asking?

Rico: I just don't want to, really. Another interview, another time.

Nick: He's a Scientologist!

Meghan: You guys have really distinctive cover art. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspirations or where that came from?

Nick: It has to do with the general theme and name of the album. The cover's actually Achilles stabbing Hector in the neck with a spear and I had that idea because in one of the songs we play there's a part where I mention Achilles in the song. A very vengeful duel just appealed to me, for some reason.

Rico: To give credit, Andrea Rhodes did that and she's a very talented artist. She works for Pixar.

Meghan: And you know her personally?

Nick: He does, not us.

Rico: Yeah.

Meghan: So you got the hook up.

Rico: Definitely.

Meghan: So you guys released Kleos last year. Can you tell me a little bit about the album?

Rico: Yeah. It has 14 songs. I feel like every song is different, which is a cool thing. A lot of times an artist will release and album and all the songs sound the same. Sometimes people up in the industry actually like that, when you fit into a niche, but what I like about the album Kleos is that all the songs sound really different. You can go through the whole thing in one sitting and not feel like you just heard the same thing for an hour. On the musical side, that's how I feel about it.

Nick: Yeah, I feel somewhat the same. I think he put it just as well as I could've said it.

Meghan: As a songwriter do you have a preference to working alone or with a group of people?

Nick: I think I don't really have a preference, but I find it more convenient to sit down by myself because I'd have to be stopping the band every five seconds, "Oh, play that part over again because I have a different melody idea." The lyrics are impossible to write if you do it with a band.

Meghan: What are some of the inspirations for Kleos? Were you listening to anything a lot at that point in time?

Rico: A lot of Frank Sinatra. Boy George.

Nick: A lot of crooner jams. Dean Martin. I don't know, I listen to all the same bands, but, this is going to sound weird, but "In Rainbows," the Radiohead album, came out right at the very end of the recording. It was more of an inspiration to keep going. It was more like an engergizer, I guess.

Rico: It's inspiring for musicians to hear good music, so I think an album like that, and I'm not necessarily a big Radiohead fan, but I can see how that could inspire.

Meghan: What else are you guys really big fans of? What gets a lot of play in the tour van?

Rico: Well, right now, in the van we have headphones. All of us are so different. In the car today I was listening to a lot of harder metal stuff, Oh Sleeper and Norma Jean and stuff, but sometimes I listen to way different stuff. I like everything so it's usually hard for me to say. I don't know what Nick's been listening to.

Nick: I've forgotten my iPod, actually, so I've been bumming it off of Ryan, but I did listen to a great album by Graham Coxon, the guitar player of Blur.

Passerby: Great fucking set!

Nick: Thank you!

Rico: Thanks, man!

Nick: So I've been listening to that, which is really cool. I've been listening to a band called the Servant from England that I really, really like. They're unfortunately not around. I still thought they were a band. I found out shortly thereafter that they are no longer a band, so I had some indie cred by default right there.

Rico: There's a band called the Last Shadow Puppets that's really good.

Nick: Yeah, Last Shadow Puppets is cool.

Meghan: I don't know them.

Rico: That's a good band for you to check out, if you're looking for a new band. They're very new.

Nick: Yes! Check that band out!

Meghan: Do you guys know some of the members?

Rico: No! They're actually from the U.K.

Nick: Some of the guys from the Artic Monkeys are in that band.

Rico: That and a band called the Rascals. Two of the guys came together and made a band. But anyways, they're really good.

Meghan: So you guys are in the middle of a tour, right?

Nick: Yes.

Meghan: Primarily West coast and then some Midwest?

Rico: All of California we did, up to Seattle. We're going to go South through Texas and Arizona and Missouri and Oklahoma. Hopefully we're going to do something for South By Southwest. Things are kind of sketchy, as a lot of your tours are when you're putting them together yourself. Our manager worked really hard but things fall through and stuff. We're working on it.

Meghan: The music industry in particular. You guys had a couple of shows cancelled, right? Can you tell me about that?

Nick: That was because word had spread ahead that we were really violent onstage and we'd break things.

Meghan: That's interesting, because I didn't find that to be true.

Nick: No, we're not. Actually a couple of the shows got cancelled because the band that was originally supposed to go on tour with us bailed out and since there was already four people on the show, it didn't rub the promoter the right way. Then another band found out and they were like, "We don't want to drive out if there's not going to be a full bill," and things kind of domino effected and we lost a couple of shows.

Rico: But Picture Atlantic is soldiering through. We made it happen.

Nick: We still made it happen.

Meghan: The show must go on.

Meghan: So this is your first big tour, right?

Rico: Yes.

Nick: We've done several tours but this is the first one this long and big.

Meghan: Do you approach your shows differently because this is the first big one?

Rico: I feel like we play every night the same, just as hard, no matter what the show or how many people. We approach every show the same, from the biggest one to the smallest one.

Nick: It can be kind of demoralizing. The funny thing is that you show up to a show and you're like, "Oh, there's nobody here, this sucks," and then everyone comes.

Rico: We always do the same thing, just as hard every time, but it feels different depending on how many people are there.

Nick: And the energy of the room.

Meghan: I read that you guys won a contest to open for Coldplay.

Rico: True.

Meghan: Can you elaborate?

Rico: There was a contest that Live 105 did and basically, you had to enter a video and they chose so many hundred bands....

Nick: We did a song, then a video.

Rico: Yeah, yeah, and then they voted on it and chose fifteen bands out of hundreds. Then they narrowed it down to three by votes and then Coldplay picked one of the three.

Meghan: Congratulations! So when was the show?

Nick: July, was it? June, July.

Rico: Summertime. It was summertime.

Meghan: Did you guys get to meet Chris Martin and the bros?

Rico: We did meet them, yeah.

Meghan: How was that?

Rico: Really cool. We hung out with their bass player for a while. He was a really cool guy.

Nick: I don't want to sound cliche by saying "humble," but they treated us like peers, which was actually mindblowing. We had just heard their new album and I really like Coldplay, and they were like, "There's this one song on the album called 'Viva La Vida.'" They talked to us like we didn't even know they had an album out, which was really cool, actually.

Rico: Coldplay, if you're listening, we want to play with you guys again. Please.

Nick: That's just sycophantic.

Meghan: You didn't write down any email addresses or take any numbers?

Nick: They all got CDs from us and I don't know, we don't want to bug them too much. They were cool guys.

Meghan: Last question. You guys are originally from where?

Nick: At one time everyone in the band lived in a different city. Right now, pretty much every one is in San Jose.

Meghan: Okay, so you guys are local. Are some of you originally from Wisconsin? I heard a rumor.

Rico: I live in Fresno and San Jose.

Meghan: How does that work?

Rico: I just drive back and forth.

Nick: That's weird. Wisconsin? Nobody's from....There's been this rash of rumors spreading. I had somebody come up to us and say, "Hey, did you ever get managed by this person?" and apparently people have been claiming that they have managed us and that somebody claimed at one point that they wrote one of our songs and then gave it to us, on our old E.P., so there's been all these bizarre rumors lately.

Rico: The more and more people that get to know you, no matter what you do, whether you're in politics or music they start making things up.

Nick: Or things get blurred.

Meghan: Well, do you guys have anything up and coming after the tour? Do you have plans?

Nick: We have a lot of things that are tentative that we shouldn't even talk about but there's a couple of tours after this that are way, way cooler than this one.

Rico: More grandiose.

Nick: So be on the look out for what we're doing in the future because we should be going all over the place.

Meghan: Very good.

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