Belfast Telegraph

Picture This: We want to be the next U2, but better

By Jackie Bell

Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy - known together as Picture This - have got huge ambitions for the future, namely setting their sights on emulating the success of arguably the biggest band in the world, U2.

The Co Kildare pair have not been in the music game for very long, in fact they are relative newbies, but they have experienced massive success both at home and abroad in a way that is very rarely witnessed.

Ever since uploading a video on to Facebook for their hit Take My Hand in 2015, the duo haven't looked back and enjoyed chart success and TV appearances in Ireland and the US, sold out arena gigs, and accepted a personal invitation to support Niall Horan on his current tour.

Not bad for two lads who say they aren't fazed by it one bit.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph ahead of their upcoming SSE Arena gig, it's clear Ryan and Jimmy are confident in their talents.

But, as they are keen to point out, there's a difference between confidence and cockiness - if you have the talent to back it up.

You're set to play the SSE Arena in Belfast and you've sold out two gigs at Dublin's 3Arena - that's quite an achievement for a group that's still relatively new to the recording industry?

Ryan: It's crazy but it's very exciting. We don't really get nervous but we are so appreciative that it has happened to us so quickly in our career. We've only been a band for less than two year so to be playing arenas is amazing. We try not to think about it too much, we kind of let it go over our heads.

Do you get annoyed at being described as an 'overnight success'?

Ryan: No. I understand why people would get annoyed by the term but we definitely don't - we are an overnight success.

Jimmy: We've never had to do the pubs and clubs circuit. But at the same time we weren't handed it though, we worked hard. We didn't have jobs so working on our music was all we did every single day.

There was a turning point after about six months of being in the band, we had out first show at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin on sale and our song was on the radio for the first time, after that it was just gigs, gigs, and more gigs and we haven't looked back.

How are you feeling about performing in Belfast again?

Jimmy: This will be our fourth time playing in Belfast within a year - we played Mandela Hall and the Waterfront and we supported The 1975 at Belsonic, and now we are ready for the SSE.

It's always great to play in the city.

How have the Belfast crowd treated you in the past?

Ryan: Coming up here we didn't know what to expect, it's quite far from where we know. But that first Belfast gig we did at Mandela Hall is one of my favourite gigs ever. I love Belfast crowds.

Jimmy: The crowd was just mental.

How would you personally describe your music?

Ryan: Big, uplifting, anthemic, love songs.

Jimmy: They are very descriptive both lyrically and musically. I think they can make you feel very nostalgic or very attached to the song. They are very emotional.

We do everything ourselves. We did everything for our first EP from recording to the music videos and it means we have total creative control, and it's very raw and it's very us.

Obviously we have a team of people with us now, but it's still our music and our creation. I have to be behind the camera when we are shooting the music video.

How did you end up supporting Niall Horan on some of his tour dates?

Ryan: Niall was a big fan of ours from quite early on. He just followed us on Twitter after his cousin showed him Take My Hand.

We got talking to him on Twitter back and forth and then he offered us two support slots in London and Sweden.

They were amazing gigs. Sweden has become a big market for us now with loads of great fans.

Do you think you have similar styles of music?

Ryan: I don't think it is similar. I think his is more like James Bay, The Lumineers, folk-like music. His solo shows that we watched were amazing. He plays his full album through and we were so impressed. It's going to be really good.

Jimmy: I think we are very similar people though. We got on straight away.

Ryan: We also have similar accents.

Jimmy: We do! But even in terms of the music that we like and the way we think about music is very similar and I think that's why we would have similar audiences.

So who would you not mind being compared to?

Ryan: That is the hardest question. Because it's our music so it's hard to look at it from the outside.

Jimmy: I would say we are a cleaner, poppier version of Snow Patrol. Snow Patrol mixed with The Script, maybe?

Ryan: People usually say U2 because they have big songs and they're Irish.

You did mention a lot of Irish bands there, obviously they are an influence...

Jimmy: Some of the biggest bands in the world are Irish, and people forget that.

Ryan: We want to be bigger than U2, we want to be the biggest band in the world.

A lot of people are afraid to say that because it's not the Irish mentality. It's almost like we should be embarrassed for being good.We're not like that, we're very driven. Very realistic, but very optimistic.

We want to be the next U2, but better and I think we're are better.

What was it like performing in the US?

Jimmy: We thought from the very beginning that our music would suit the Americans, with their kind of mentality and their confidence. They are very positive people, so we thought we would go over there and do a load of gigs in the US and Canada.

Ryan: Our album went to number three in America straight off our appearance on the Today Show. That was crazy, the immediate response was amazing.

Jimmy: It's so easy for an Irish band to go to America and get very lost. Because if you're not confident and if you don't say, 'You know what, I'm good' they won't listen to you.

There's no point being timid and shy in America because they'll run straight over you. There's another band waiting to take your place.

You have to go over there like Conor McGregor. He's Irish but he is the most confident man in the world and the Americans love it. Two things they love, confidence and the Irish.

It's not cockiness, it's just confidence. If you fail at least you tried.

Has there been a point yet where you thought, 'We've done it'?

Ryan: No, we let it go over our heads as much as possible because we don't want to sit around and dwell on it. We don't take ourselves very seriously which is key to keeping us sane. There's so many bands that just take themselves so seriosuly.

Jimmy: We don't live the lifestyle that people probably think we do. Life is exactly the same for us.

What do your families make of it all?

Jimmy: They are very excited and happy for us, they think it's great craic. They're really proud as well.

Ryan: They are just happy we're happy. If were weren't musicians they would be exactly the same.

Jimmy: Yeah, they'd still be proud of us no matter what.

Will they be going to the upcoming gigs?

Jimmy: My family group chat is flat out at the moment trying to sort out who's going to what gig.

Ryan: My parents are going to loads of the gigs actually.

Jimmy: Getting tickets sorted and people getting babysitters sorted has been an ongoing issue.

Ryan: You wouldn't believe how many cousins I have!

What does the future hold for Picture This?

Jimmy: The second album is being worked on at the moent.

Ryan: We want to release that as soon as possible. We are not the kind of band that will go away for three years and write an album.

We want to release an album a year for the foreseeable future. Just because we can, we write songs very quickly, we produce songs very quickly. It's probably why, I think, our songs are so raw, because there's not ten people writing a song.

We can put down lyrics in five to ten minutes, especially if writing about a personal experience.

It seems like there is a lot of trust between the two of you in terms of producing music together.

Jimmy: Yes there is, and we are very much opposites as well which is why I think we work so well together.

It's not like we are the same person when we have an idea, and we have a lot of common sense between the two of us in terms of what works and what's good.

Ryan: It's the only way you can be completely happy with the finished product is if you were involved in everything, so at the end we can say, 'That was us, we did that'.

  • Picture This are performing at the SSE Arena, Belfast on Friday, October 27.

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