“Everything is relative to the art that you consume” - Andy Pickering on performing to millions in Argentina and making music in Sheffield
“It’s been quite good to have a lot more time to write, it’s just a little harder when life stops and you can’t do much of anything”, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Andy Pickering isn’t doing much during this time of extended lockdown — anything but.
He’s not only put out the five-track EP called Suitcase in the Back and the recently released Bare Essentials, he’s also been approached for other projects due to his lockdown passion projects, like the YouTube videos he’s been creating, where he breaks down his older songs and records video of the process on his phone, syncing up the audio afterwards. It may seem basic in its premise but it’s had an impact, “actually, that landed in front of someone who works for a tech company designing an app for filmmakers that syncs music to video using AI, time-stretched audio and stuff”, which resulted in Andy being offered composing work, just for messing about with older tracks, “you never know who’s listening to your stuff” he intones.
“I went back to the original multi-tracks and stripped down the productions to only the ‘Bare Essentials’ I focused on more percussive arrangements then used all analogue effects and mixed down onto Reel to Reel tape.”
Andy has been making music for around 20-years. Starting out with The Undergrade, followed by The Midbeats, The Draytones and now The Telmos, but it was with The Draytones that he experienced some moderate success — just not in the UK.
“We went out touring and abroad, we went to Argentina and the Falklands, did a lot of cool stuff there, did a documentary. We even did a tour of Argentina in 2009, playing in front of millions of people on cheesy early morning TV and stuff.”
“The story being the first ever Anglo-Argentine band to play in the Falklands, promoting friendship, an awful lot of money was invested… it’s just one of those things, I thought this was going to be it, I thought we were going to be massive in South America. We were getting recognised on the street and in the airport, we had so much momentum, played huge festivals alongside The Prodigy at the Pepsi Music Festival, it just didn’t transpire.”
“The Draytones slowly fizzled out and in 2015 the band feeling the strain from being unable to get any industry support anymore to nothing, they played a final gig in Argentina and then once that ended and that’s when I thought ‘ok’, I left London and came to Sheffield and decided I was going to do it here. It’s where The Telmos started five years ago. I’ve got like 20 years to talk about but it feels like I’m just beginning right now.”
Everybody’s Out There Doing Nothing New, is a song inspired by Covid and this acoustically simple song mulls over the pervasive feeling that, “there’s nothing going on, there’s nothing to even do, and you sort of realise how much you take for granted the normal things. Like, ‘Oh I’m going to go to the cinema with my mate, or I’m going to go to a gig, or the pub’ and all of a sudden we’re out of options… it’s a bit of an isolation song, I guess”, it’s in the art of the understated take on things that you feel an affinity with Andy music.
“I find lyrics the hardest part, writing melody is just in me. I can just produce melody all the time. But everything is relative to the art that you consume and you get inspired by”, like so many other musicians, “The Beatles are just the be all and end all”, meanwhile the keyboard playing in The Doors “transformed the idea of what keyboard players could be in music”, Ray Davis, “painted pictures with words, absolutely one of my favourite lyricists” and people like Emitt Rhodes, “he was very much McCartney-esque as a songwriter, he was like a pioneer who was really young in the 60s but he was one of the first people to record an album in his parents garage, playing all the instruments, which wasn’t really a thing as everything was studio recorded. He’s a huge influence on what I do at home.”
As Emitt Rhodes once sang, “You must live till you die, you must fight to survive” and despite the knock backs the disappoints, the false starts and the experiences that have shaped him, propelling Andy onwards in his musical journey, it just so happens that Sheffield is the hub and his home from where the ideas for his next steps musically take shape.
Suitcase In The Back is out now on Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube.
You can follow Andy Pickering on: