New England is full of rich and diverse musical talent, spanning genres and communities. Huge influential acts like Lake Street Dive, Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, and Ray Lamontagne are just some of the killer artists that come from around here. Our own little valley is known for its unique indie scene and funky music spaces where you can find the locals exploring sounds. Travel a bit farther to the city and you experience even larger vibrant arts scenes. On September 28, New England's Jazz Act Of The Year, Gretchen and The Pickpockets make the trip from Boston to Holyoke to perform at Gateway City Arts. Local band, Lexi Weege and The Wondertwins bring their tunes and charm to open up the night. Two bands with ridiculous powerhouses leading them will fill our space for the evening. Start your Fall off right by heating things up and diving into these two bands. Recently, Mike of Gretchen and The Pickpockets took some time to tell us a little about the band!
Hi there! Thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us and give our audience a chance to get to know Gretchen and The Pickpockets. So I know you guys are based out of Boston, how did you first come together? How long have you been a band?
We started playing while we were studying at UNH - Gretchen & I (siblings) started jamming together in the music building. We wanted to start a band so Ryan came into the mix as a friend of a friend. Later on down the road we needed a drummer so Tom joined us (after knowing him from high school), then most recently Diego (from Colombia) who met our guitar player in Grad School.
Congratulations on winning The New England Music Awards for Jazz Act of The Year! How does that feel? Have you won other awards in the past?
Thanks! It feels great to be recognized with the other amazing musicians who won as well as those who were nominated. We have won grants from Club Passim Iguana fund to fuel a music video of ours as well as complete our newest album. We have won best NH band at the NEMA before (I think 2015), and then were nominated by them in 2016 as the best Pop Act of the year. A few years ago we won the title Best Rock Band at the Seacoast (NH) Spotlight Awards, so like us, no one has been able to pigeon hole us into a genre. And to round it out we have done some award winning jingles; the wachussett valley skiing one, and one of our songs won best theme song at LA Webfest.
I've been loving getting to know your music as we prepare to host you all at GCA, can you tell our audience a bit about where you are coming from with your art? What moves you to make music?
We just released a new album in April, 'Falling Rising,' and I think that summarizes and shows our eclectic taste in music, both creating and listening. I think if you listen to our EPs and LPs over the years, you can feel the changes of what we were trying to achieve, and I think we are still holding our best work in our pocket. There's definitely been some growing pains, ups and downs, that have all come together to what we are now!
It seems like you have many influences, from jazz to blues to soul to rock, what are some bands that you find solace in or inspiration from?
I think over time, we have found that there's a lot of overlap in those genres. Since we started in college, we started playing party/cover songs and sets. We quickly got over that, and since most of the band was in school for music, we started tweaking our covers from straight rock to hinting at jazz with instrumentation and voicings (selfishly). People dug it, so we kept going. We are big fans of Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and Buddy Rich which I think everyone can resonate with, but also are very much into more contemporary artists like Vulfpeck, Lucius and Lake Street Dive who hint at the other genres people resonate with.
Boston, like the Valley (but much bigger) has a super rich music and arts scene. Any Massachusetts based bands on your playlists these days?
Bent Knee, Julie Rhodes, Dietrich Strause, As The Sparrow, Troll 2 and Lake Street Dive!
If you could pick one of your original songs that you feel is the epitome of what Gretchen and The Pickpockets is about, which would that be? How so?
I think Love You Forever does a nice job of summarizing us with high-energy while still having some horn arrangements people associate with jazz, a poppy hook and a soulful chorus. Gretchen also slays that tune. It's a tough decision because I like them all for different reasons!
How is your most recent album, 'Falling Rising', different from those that came before, 'Anachronic' and your self titled 'Gretchen and The Pickpockets'?
This album took us two years to make. Our first EP probably took us a week. I think we have always been particular with how we wanted everything to sound, but going into the studio is like playing an instrument and I think you need to have experience with that as well. We have just been learning, and working on how to express our thoughts better to eachother and the recording engineer, and ultimately translating our ideas onto tape! (metaphorically)
Do you have a favorite memory as a band from this whole journey?
On our most recent tour, we went down to the south for a week. We drove home from North Carolina straight to Boston on the last day, and our van got pulled over by the Boston Police literally a block away from our final destination because of a loud muffler.
How do you feel about community as it relates to art and music? Do these two interact in a way that is important to you?
We are very fortunate for the arts community as a whole. Since we started out not knowing much, the fact that our community was supportive really allowed us to go further than I think we ever thought we would alone. We've migrated from the Seacoast NH to Boston and that community also has been very kind to us, and in turn, we try to give back whenever we can.
What's next for Gretchen and The Pickpockets?
World domination! But first, maybe a new album - hopefully soon!
THANK YOU so much for taking the time! We look forward to seeing you on September 28th at Gateway City Arts!
Can't wait! Thank you!!!
To learn more about Gretchen and The Pickpockets, visit their website.
You can purchase tickets to their September 28th concert here.
For more information on upcoming shows, visit gatewaycityarts.com.