The Straight’s first crack at interviewing Seattle sextet Pickwick went bust when singer Galen Disston explained in an email that he was too busy heading down to Disneyland to get on the phone. To be fair, he had contemplated having a chat between sets at the Country Bear Jamboree, but ultimately opted to let bandmate Michael Parker field the call from home. When asked if he felt slighted about not getting to bond with his frontman inside of a herky-jerkin’ Matterhorn bobsled, the guitarist confesses that the California amusement park isn’t exactly his idea of the Happiest Place on Earth.
“I’m more of a Magic Mountain man, myself,” Parker says with a laugh, noting his preference for the rival destination’s less kid-friendly, flipped-and-dipped selection of roller coasters. “It’s gotten a little out of hand with the lines, but Disneyland’s fun. I don’t know if they’ve built it yet, but they have plans for a Star Wars theme park. That might get me down there eventually.”
As for Pickwick, the band’s next phase is starting to come nicely into focus. The act—Disston, Parker, bassist Garrett Parker, vibraphone player Kory Kruckenberg, keyboardist Cassady Lillstrom, and drummer Alex Westcoat—recently wrapped up the recording of its as-yet-untitled sophomore album. It follows the buzz-building 2013 debut, Can’t Talk Medicine, on which breakthrough single “Hacienda Motel” set a grisly, head-chopping murder scenario to a Black Keys–styled blues-pop groove. Disston’s rootsy croon on sweat-and-blood pieces like “Brother Roland” and “Letterbox” earned him comparisons to born-by-the-river soul great Sam Cooke.
“We’ve never really tried to pigeonhole ourselves, we just play the music we make when we all get into a room together,” Parker says. “On the last record, there was a lot of comparisons to ’60s R&B, and I think on this record there’s definitely that element. But there’s also some other influences that have crept in that we weren’t expecting.”
He confirms that the full-length is packed with the sound of brass, strings, vintage synths, and various percussive textures courtesy of Tendai “Baba” Maraire of avant-rap collective Shabazz Palaces. Parker also hints that the album has a particularly plum-coloured aura.
“Let’s put it this way: we’ve been listening to a lot of Prince. I’ve always been a huge fan. Prince was one of the greatest writers in American history. There’s just so much there.”
While the official album release will take place later this year, Vancouver fans will be treated to a preview this week. In addition to showcasing favourites like “Halls of Columbia” at the Rickshaw Theatre’s seventh-anniversary party, Parker says the band’s set list will include new tunes. The guitarist is happy to return to one of Vancouver’s most important venues, which is where he believes Pickwick staged its first Canadian concert.
“We’ve been lucky to have played enough shows and tour around that we’ve started to build relationships with certain venues and owners. Mo [Tarmohamed] at the Rickshaw has always been so good to us,” Parker says fondly. “It’s in a pretty eclectic part of Vancouver, but we always come back with a story.”
Pickwick headlines the Rickshaw Theatre’s seventh anniversary party on Friday (July 8).