Picture This: We want to be the biggest band in the world – it's as simple as that
Kildare lads Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy are making waves in the pop world with their band Picture This. Jenny Lee meets the ambitious duo ahead of their debut Belfast arena gig
"WE WANT to be successful, not famous.” This is just one of the many statements of intent that 21-year-old Ryan Hennessy, one half of the band Picture This, makes about their future.
Ryan and fellow Kildare musician Jimmy Rainsford hail from the same town, Athy, and attended the same school; they joined forces just under two years ago.
Drummer Jimmy, who is more into the production side of the band, had previously played for other musicians and bands including Monaghan singer-songwriter Ryan Sheridan, while singer-songwriter and guitarist Ryan decided to put his own music out to the world, recording Take My Hand on his iPhone.
Having seen the raw version of the song, which talks about falling in love with a girl and promising to treat her like her father treats your mother, Jimmy invited Ryan to join him in his studio to record some tracks. They quickly hit it off, decided to make the partnership more permanent and Picture This was born.
Their debut release of Take My Hand went viral, generating more than two million Spotify streams and the duo say the reaction from fans on social media "forced them into being a band".
Such was the demand for tickets for their first gig that they moved venue and became the first act to sell out their debut appearance at The Academy in Dublin.
Having gained comparison to Snowpatrol, Ryan sums up their sound as "uplifting, anthemic love songs", while Jimmy believes Picture This engages all the senses.
"Listening to our songs is like watching a movie. We want to paint 3D pictures you can feel and smell. With Take My Hand you can see the evening sun setting and smell the cut grass," he says.
Proving their ambitions aren't all talk and no action, in the past few year Picture This have sold out gigs in Dublin's 3Arena in three minutes, watched their self-titled debut album reach number-one on the Irish album chart and number four in the alternative charts in the US, played South by Southwest music festival in Texas, sung on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, supported Niall Horan on his European Tour and made their television debut live on prime time breakfast programme TODAY on NBC.
Signed to American record label Republic Records, whose artists include the likes of Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Drake, the boys describe their label as "the perfect fit" for their vision and sound.
Rather unusually for the music industry, the lads still have a huge say in the direction of their music.
"We let them know that from the outset we wanted creative control and they had no problem with that as they just wanted to enhance what we are doing. We still shoot our own music videos and write our music. Every lyric, every note, every social media post and video is still us," says Ryan.
"Bands gets into a lot of trouble when the label comes in and tries to change them and it’s not authentic anymore. Yes they put us in touch with producers, but we choose the producer and work together to enhance what we were doing," adds Jimmy, who was thrilled to record their album in Nashville's Blackbird Studio.
After playing a showcase in their label's office, the guys received an invite to play live on US breakfast television last month. It was an excellent start to their broadcast career, sharing the line-up with Hilary Clinton and actresses Julie-Ann Moore and Ellen Paige, although not ideal timing as the band played to a sold-out crowd in The Bowery in New York the night before.
"It was a 4am call and we had gone to bed at 2 after playing a gig and getting back to the hotel about 1am. We were so shattered, we didn’t care how we looked," Jimmy laughs.
Image, however, is important to Ryan, who when we chat in Belfast's Europa hotel is looking rather like One Direction Harry Styles with his floppy hair and leather jacket.
"After music, clothes is what I’m most interested in," says Ryan, who jokes that he's educating Jimmy on wardrobe decisions.
So is a future Picture This clothing range on the cards?
"Picture This, no, but I can see the name Ryan Hennessy," says Jimmy.
Ryan adds: "Paul Galvin was a big hero of mine when he played GAA, but now we’ve become great mates. We work together and he gives us clothes and we plan to collaborate in the future."
Picture This are looking forward to playing Belfast's SSE Arena later this month. It's their fourth gig in Belfast this year – having previously played the Mandela Hall, Waterfront Hall and Belsonic.
“It’s going to be amazing playing in an arena. We genuinely love Belfast audiences, they are extra crazy. We came up here playing our first gig in the Mandela Hall not knowing what to expect and they just blew the roof off the place."
Although their album and concert success haven't translated into the singles charts, the band have their sights on on global music success.
"We want to be the biggest band in the world. It’s as simple as that really. People are afraid to say and think that, but we are not afraid. It’s just our personalities. If I was a plumber, I would want to be the best plumber in the world," says Ryan.
While confident in their ability, the boys aren't letting fame go to their heads and admit that they even still live at home with their "mammies".
"Obviously we are going to have some fame related to it but we don’t care too much about that. We’re interested in the creative side of it. I like to think that Picture This is the famous thing and that me and Ryan are just in it.
:: Due to demand extra tickets have been released for Picture This' gig at the SSE Arena, Belfast on Friday October 27. Book online at Ticketmaster.ie