Interview: Pickwick

There is no better introduction to Pickwick than this video by Sound on the Sound as part of their Basement Sessions video series. Take some time with the first song “Hacienda Motel” before reading on…


One of the oft-stated themes of this blog is “transition.”  With most of the bands I’ve interviewed, that meant talking about transitioning from the garage to the stage, or from a local band to a national act.  Pickwick, however, has gone through a much more profound transition.  As you’ll hear below in the interview, up until about 1.5 years ago, Pickwick was an ambient folk project swung back and forth by current trends and struggling to live up to their influences.  Amidst turmoil and frustration, lead singer Galen Disston heard Sam Cooke’s “A Change in Gonna Come” for the first time and at the next practice they tried something new.  The result was the soul-infused, infectious indie-pop you just experienced.

It almost goes without saying that everyone in the band started having a lot more fun from that point forward.  There is something irresistible about Pickwick’s sound that begs to be physically expressed – whether in-person at a show or dancing around the living room.  The groove is so right, everyone is so locked in, and as a new Pickwick fan it is impossible for me to envision Disston’s voice singing any other kind of music.  Every band struggles to find and then hone their true, best sound.  Pickwick, circa 2011, is what the that discovery sounds like, resonating throughout Seattle and beyond.

It was my pleasure to sit down with the entire band and discuss these transitions in terms of Seattle music community.  Enjoy the full interview in short mp3 clips below, and listen to “The Round” on the Mid By Northwest Pop-Up Radio Player.  You may also download [download id=”1″ format=”1″].


“I actually find that musically [this sound] gives us a lot more options [than the ambient folk sound] and it’s a lot more freeing.  Because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing in this genre, so there aren’t any rules.  We’re totally out of our comfort zone.  It’s kind of a scary place to be, but it’s also so exhilarating because we can do whatever we want. If we want to pull an influence from here and mix it with that, we can do that, because we’re not trying to be revivalist.  We’re not trying to be a soul band.” – Michael Parker, Pickwick

“The mentality that you’re going to move to the city, start a band, and as an individual get better shows, and planning your shows with an individual mindset… I think that’s something that can really mess with community.  Like, ‘This show might be great for us.‘  But when there’s a [cultural hub] like the Conor Byrne Open Mic, you can meet friends, you can build bands, and you can build shows . . . If you start more by trying to focus on the community and building something from that, there, with your friends having fun, and then bringing those ideas to the venues, I think that’s the way to do it.  – Galen Disston, Pickwick


MH: “What is the origin story of Pickwick?”

[audio:|titles=Pickwick Interview 1]

MH: “As you made that transition from ambient folk to a more soul sound, how did your perception of the Seattle music scene change?”

[audio:|titles=Pickwick Interview 2]

MH: “Can you describe what it was like, outside of the practice space, at that point of major musical transition?”

[audio:|titles=Pickwick Interview 3]

MH: “What are some inhibitors to building true community around music?”

[audio:|titles=Pickwick Interview 4]

MH: “What advice would you give someone moving to a new city to do music?”

[audio:|titles=Pickwick Interview 5]



You can experience Pickwick live this Friday night at the Tractor Tavern, as they celebrate the release of Myths, Vol. 3 on 7″ vinyl and digital download.  Here are all the details:

BOAT (LP Release), Pickwick (7″ Release), Concours d’Elegance
Friday, March 25
at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, WA
9:30pm – $8 – 21+
Buy Tickets Here or from Sonic Boom

Pickwick is: Galen Disston, Matthew Emmett, Cassady Lillstrom, Garrett Parker, and Michael Parker.
All photos used courtesy of Pickwick, taken by Kristen Marie Tourtillotte


  1. I am a Pickwick and was just wondering how they came about choosing the name for the band?