thePicassos Band Interview This is the first of a series of interviews with bands you may not have heard from before. The criteria to be included in this project were that I had heard and liked the band’s record, or that I felt the music was so original that it deserved a bigger voice. 

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Words by Graeme Wright

This is the first of a series of interviews with bands you may not have heard from before. The criteria to be included in this project were that I had heard and liked the band’s record, or that I felt the music was so original that it deserved a bigger voice. In the case of thePicassos their album was so great, so different and so immediate that I felt I had to speak to them to see what they were all about. The band describe themselves as a “Gothic/Death Folk band of occult practitioners who hail from the shadows of Detroit” and I couldn’t wait to speak with Charles, Thorin and Joe to find out a bit more about the band.

The way I first came across the band was unusual. Instead of a PR or record company request, the guys had just contacted Jace Media Music directly and asked if was there any chance we could listen to their music. Something about this approach struck a chord with me so I took the band up on their offer. I then found the record to be so original and thrilling that after reviewing the album for the website I decided to find out a bit more about the production of their album and the genesis of the band, as well as influences, current musical tastes and the live music scene in Detroit.

Charles indicates: “I formed the band initially, but then the idea was always to make contact with people on the way that would enable me to go from a solo position to a band project, which was what I’d always intended.”

Thorin smiles and reminds Charles, “People always used to ask him why it was called thePicassos if he was a solo act. Charles started the band in 2015, I joined in 2018 and he already knew Dan who was waiting for a drummer to be in place before committing to the project. It was the three of us until Joe came into the picture last year to play keyboards, initially as a hired musician for live shows but he ended up playing on every track on the album.” Charles continues: “It’s difficult to meet the right people when you’re initially forming a band, so when you do it’s a lucky thing.”

After my first listen to the band’s album, I then went back and listened to their earlier music and while I loved it all I felt that the new record showed a huge progression for the band in all areas, from production and songwriting through to arrangements and presentation. I wondered about the reception the record had received so far, and how it was going across in the live arena.

Charles informs me: “This record has been a long time coming. A lot of these tracks are older than you might imagine, so it’s funny to us to hear them described as the new record. I can say that this is the culmination of the project since the initial inception of the band. We’ve had a weird rocky road to get to this point but as far as the reception goes it seems that people are catching on so what we are trying to do now is make sure the word gets out to the masses as much as is possible.

It’s difficult to get people to listen to even a single, never mind a full-length twelve-track record these days.” Thorin tells us about Detroit. “We played Skull Fest a year ago today which is a big Goth music festival. We were talking to a guitarist friend and noticed that there are so many abandoned buildings in Detroit due to the City experiencing great population decline over the last sixty years. These buildings would be perfect for putting on live shows, but the problem is that there aren’t too many people around to go to those shows these days due to the reduced population.”

The biggest thing about the record for me is that it’s hard to pin down. It shifts from eighties Goth to Black Sabbath style riffs to 20’s Grass Roots gin joint music. I suspect this is due to the band members having very different musical tastes that create this very original fusion of styles.

Charles: “That’s huge in relation to our sound. Out of the four of us, none of us listens to the same two things for the most part. For me, I’d say David Bowie is a big one. Depeche Mode is another. I have gone to the church and died at the altar of Tom Waites and I’m still living there peacefully right now. They are my three biggest influences of the last decade and they seep into everything.”

Thorin: “ I’m all over the map. I grew up listening to the likes of Barenaked Ladies who were huge in my household. The Decemberists are massive for me. The singer’s previous band Tarkio (from Montana) was another favourite and their guitarist played the banjo as well and that’s the reason I picked up the banjo. As a drummer, my single biggest influence was Jeremiah Green from Modest Mouse.”

Joe: “Growing up as a keyboardist, my stuff is a bit more traditional. My dad used to blast Tom Petty, The Beatles, Elton John, and Billy Joel. I’m also into musical theatre, so I like songs with a lot of character and melody. Andrew Lloyd Webber, things like that.”

Lyrically the band are clearly influenced by Horror films, literature and comic books with reference to Dracula, Silence of the Lambs and German expressionism being some of the tropes I’d picked up on.

“Guilty as charged,” Charles indicates. “That definitely seeps through into my lyrics—death, dying, mortality and immortality. Vampirism, the occasional serial killer story, is all touched upon. Our song ‘Leather Wings’ is very much about a vampire experiencing his own immortality as things he treasures die around him. It’s that feeling of longing and despair that I’m trying to get across. The song title though was pulled from the Batman animated series, ‘On Leather Wings’ so there’s clearly such a wide range of influences. I like to think we have a layered approach, but we are always a little left of centre. German expressionism, Film Noir, that black and white palette will always be a huge influence for me.”

One of the most interesting things for me is that the band describe their live shows as being a séance, where the audience is invited to join hands and to communicate with the dead in whatever way they choose. It’s clear from the band’s social media that they love performing live.

“I think it’s about the ability to express yourselves in the moment at a live show as best you can. We do have some supporters now that have started to crop up so we can only hope that amplifies in the forthcoming weeks and months. We’ve always said the live performance is like a séance. It’s about taking hold of the energy and the moment with the crowd and invoking whatever works for the audience. Whether it’s the dead, the energy of the building or the audience itself, it’s almost about people making peace with themselves and we invite everyone to join us in the live arena. We’ve played small intimate shows but also played sold-out shows supporting the likes of Amigo The Devil so it’s all about the room.”


Charles Urban – Lead Vocals/Guitar

Thorin Murphy-Fahlgren – Drums/Accordion/Banjo/Percussion/Backing Vocals

Dan Lowe – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals

Joe Duprey – Keyboards/Synth/Piano/Backing Vocals

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