Maybe you’ve heard Sky Picnic already. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, I’ll wait here while you cue up Paint Me A Dream, the 2012 album that introduced them to the world... or “Rippled,” which was a single last year, or “June Sunshine,” which is their latest one... and then we’ll all be on the same page, ready for the new album. And why?
Because the trio of Chris Sherman, Leah Cinnamon and Pete Meriwether were responsible for that version of “Bracelet of Fingers”which was one of the wildest highlights of the Fruits de MerSF Sorrow tribute.
Because Sky Picnic’s visceral vision drifts from Donovan to King Crimson (not such a stretch, by the way... Don’s “Get Thy Hearings” was a regular in the early Crims’ live show); because you know they were born with one ear stuck to the Zombies’ Odessey & Oracle; and because even they admit they originaly bonded over those lovely little songs with which Rick Wright and Syd Barrett fed the early Pink Floyd, before history took its toll on either’s reputation. Meaning, they pick out the good bits, the pretty bits, the how-the-hell-did-they-do-that bits, and ... unlike too many other people, don't just call it in from a convenient replica of a red London phone box, with a "Carnaby '67" poster stuck on the wall.
Because just when you think you've got a handle on precisely what Sky Picnic's all about, that's when they mix it all up in a subsonic blender. Then paint your face with the kind of eclectic bemusement that you thought you’d seen the last of back in your late teens, when you were doing whatever it was you were doing, while playing sides three and four of A Gift from a Flower to a Garden very loud on a borrowed bong.
Besides, if you haven't heard Sky Picnic's version of "Revolution"... well, I'll wait while you cue that up as well.
Chris Sherman, the man behind the Picnic, offers up a swift potted history.
“Sky Picnic's beginnings technically date to the tail end of 2008, when we began playing with Pete, although it can be argued that the release of our debut LP Farther In This Fairy Tale [Nasoni Records, Berlin], in 2011 is a more accurate starting point. Either way, Leah and I had been playing with various drummers for a few years around New York City and then Pete found us online and right from the first jam session, it just felt right; the chemistry and the sound. In hindsight of course, we weren't playing our best material then, but the vision for what we wanted to become and where we wanted to go were pretty clear right away.”
GM: What would you say are Sky Picnic’s musical influences... or just the kind of stuff you like? Just from reading about you elsewhere, the first two Floyd albums are probably no-brainers...
CS: To say we all geek out on those albums is an understatement. I think at the end of the day, it all returns to Syd Barrett and Rick Wright's songs on those early Floyd singles. Keeping with that era, there is the '65 to '68 stretch of the Beatles.... As for modern sounds, Dungen is the big one.
GM: The first I heard of you was through sundry Fruits de Mer releases. How did that relationship come to life?
CS: I don't recall the exact chain of events that led us to Fruits De Mer, other than begging Keith to let us do something for them, whatever it may be. We tackled "Revolution" by Tomorrow, then the Pretty Things album, and last time around, "Try It" by the Hollies. I absolutely love the spirit of the label, and Keith has been a huge supporter of us all these years.
GM: And, of course, you just played Crabstock, the Fruits de Mer festival of madness that seems to have popped up all over the world. London, Wales, Finland... and you played the New York show, with the Luck of Eden Hall and the Seventh Ring of Saturn. How did it go?
CS: The Crabstock gigs were a blast. It was great to hang with the other bands, pass out the freebies that everyone seemed to love, and most importantly, to get to play for everyone. The feedback was more than we could have expected and we got to meet some really great people. Two nights was honestly not enough!
GM: And the new album will be appearing on Mega Dodo.
CS: I first heard about the label via the Active Listener blog, who was running a review of the latest Mordecai Smyth. I took notice and filed the name away for the future when it was time for the next release. Then, earlier this year, I saw that Octopus Syng (whom we had been on Fruits De Mer releases with and had as a by-product become fans of) signed with Mega Dodo.
From there it was just a matter of hoping they dug our sounds. And right off the bat, John was great to deal with; not the typical "label" guy. In fact, we have been emailing regularly, be it about Record Store Day, audiophiles or the Beatles. Needless to say, we are honored to be part of the family.
GM: The single’s on its way, the album’s out in the fall?
CS: September. We've been working on the new stuff since last spring, so getting it out there is going to be a culmination of nearly a year's worth of hard work. From there, we want to play as many shows as possible behind it, perhaps hit the road for a bit, as every mini road trip we take always seems to be some of the best gigs (and fun) we have. And, ultimately, to just keep spreading the Sky Picnic name and sound to everyone who will listen. Winning over new fans is what makes this all worthwhile.