Pickwick has finally made it. It’s officially a hipster band.
“Oh god, that was a nightmare,” moaned guitarist Michael Parker, recalling how the phrase “Seattle hipster band” flashed across the TV screen during a pregame concert for Mariners opening day at Safeco Field in April. It begs the question: What does a hipster band even sound like? Bassist
Garrett Parker, without missing a beat: “Sounds like irony.”
Pickwick’s sound has evolved significantly since the band’s early days in 2007 as folksy indie rockers—the kind of omnipresent act in Seattle that everyone listens to and no one remembers. Things weren’t going well; they even considered breaking up the band. Thankfully, the solution was simple rather than terminal: They just had to play to their strengths and turn up the bass—they call it “garage R&B.” Pickwick’s not-so-secret weapon is front man Galen Disston, a curly-haired Californian whose soulful vocals could bring a Southern Baptist congregation to its feet. Harder still is to get Seattleites to bust a move, but with its mix of indie-rock instrumentals and ’60s gospel and blues, Pickwick provokes dance parties wherever it goes.
This year, for the first time, the sextet took its soul machine on a national tour, promoting its debut album, Can’t Talk Medicine. This record was years in coming, given the band’s saga of contract negotiations with several different labels. “Any one of them would have been a great offer, but we decided we were better off on our own,” said percussionist and Grammy-winning engineer Kory Kruckenberg, a late and game-changing addition to the band. They haven’t written off representation—they’re currently with indie label Dine Alone Records in Canada—but, for now, they keep busy as independent artists. In addition to a Safeco concert, a coast-to-coast tour, and magazine interviews, they’re headlining Capitol Hill Block Party in late July—and doing what twenty- and thirtysomething guys in Seattle are wont to do: Dissecting Game of Thrones. Maybe Pickwick is a hipster band after all. —Laura Dannen
Who they are
Kory Kruckenberg (percussion, vibraphone, producer/engineer),
Alex Westcoat (drummer), Galen Disston (vocals), Michael Parker (guitar), Cassady Lillstrom (keyboard), Garrett Parker (bass).
Who came before them
Hippie with soul Allen Stone
Their self-released debut Can’t Talk Medicine came out in March.
See them at
Capitol Hill Block Party on July 27
First Seattle concert “The first Pickwick show was at Studio Seven,” said Galen. “It was pay
for play. It was awful. It was a Wednesday night, very cold.”
Dream venue Showbox at the Market on New Year’s Eve was a big deal. So was Safeco. Maybe “Seahawks Stadium” is next, joked Alex.
Songs we wish we’d written The consensus says: lots of Bob Dylan. “To Ramona,” “Visions of Johanna,” “Fourth Time Around,” “Ballad of a Thin Man.”
Can we please make an album with Shabazz Palaces, but “we have nothing to offer them,” kidded Garrett.
Pickwick performs “Blackout” a capella in the UW Suzzallo Reading Room (2011):
Pickwick performs “Window Sill” live at KEXP’s Concerts at the Mural (2011):
Pickwick’s official video for “Lady Luck,” featuring Sharon Van Etten (2013):