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Sky Picnic interview Chris Sherman



Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview! Would you guys mind introducing yourselves?

Of course- we love to do these!  I'm Chris Sherman, lead guitar and vocals, and, along with Leah Cinnamon on bass guitar and vocals, we're Sky Picnic, based out of Brooklyn, New York.  Our first LP was just released on Nasoni, the release show is next week and things are going well!

So, how did you guys get together to create Sky Picnic? The name of the band is really awesome.

Leah and I initially began playing together in 2005, jamming together on some solo stuff I had been writing just post-college.  From there, we formed our first band, a rather mid-60's Byrds style band called the Universal Mind Decoder, which ended in 2007, and Sky Picnic grew out of that.  We wanted to venture into psychedelia full-on, since our biggest influences are in that style, and this project became the springboard for that.  We've been through our share of drummers over our time together, and as of now, are just officially a duo, with live drummers for gigging.

The Sky Picnic name actually came about from a friend of mine who had these word magnets on his door that were just haphazardly spelling out "sky picnic", which I absolutely loved the imagery of and wrote in my lyric book.  Then when it came time to name the band, there was the winner.

What are some of your influences? Since you play psychedelic music, you must have love for many psychedelic bands from the late 60's. I know you are a huge Pink Floyd fan.

Without a doubt, the Syd-era of the Floyd is our biggest influence.  There was something so special about that period of the band that is impossible not to love.  From the lyrics, to the effects and the song structures, it can't be topped.  Right along with that, there is the rest of the British psychedelic scene of the late 60's: the Beatles from "Revolver" through "Magical Mystery Tour", Tomorrow, the Pretty Things, Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Odyessey & Oracle" by the Zombies (a masterpiece!)...then you have the early prog stuff, like early King Crimson, Nektar, Gabriel's Genesis...and of course, everything that George Harrison brought to the West from India.  We are influenced by some current music, such as Sonic Youth, Dungen, and the Flaming Lips, but mainly, we are very much students of the classics.  That stream of amazing music- from 1966 through 1972- is what this band is founded upon.  

Synesthesia is your first EP released in 2008. What can you tell me about this EP? How and where did you record it? I really enjoy the song on this album called "Half the Queen's Face". I can hear many Pink Floyd influences on this song.  "Moons of Jupiter" is another great song. I can hear again Floydish sound and also sound of the late 60's garage bands like The Chocolate Watchband. "Sequence IV" is another great track from this album. I would really like, if you could tell us more about this songs from your first album?

It was recorded under interesting circumstances.  Our then-drummer and us parted ways a few months before we were set to record, and we weren't really sure what was happening with the band around then.

As far as the songs, we had done some demos in 2007 and early 2008 and were working on a giant concept album (part of which developed into "Farther in This Fairy Tale"). When these sessions came around, we decided it would be best to not do anything too crazy (seeing as it was our first release and since we weren't a "full" band), so we recorded the songs we had that weren't part of said concept, and called it an EP.  I'm glad you dig "Half the Queen's Face", as that was one we never got positive response on, then you have "the Wise Man Lost His Head", which was intended to be a sort of mini rock opera.  "Moons of Jupiter" was a jam Leah and I built around that repeating riff, which conjures up images of outer space for me.  It's the only one from the EP we still play live. "Sequence IV", looking back at it now, feels a little too ambitious for us.  Not sure if I would do it over again if I had the chance, as the song could easily be cut in half, but I do love that opening riff, and then the choir in the outro.

The sessions were done with me as producer (and drummer by default) in our personal studio in Connecticut.  I believe it was done over the course of 2 days in July 2008, and then there was a solid month of mixing.  Things just sort of happened, in the sense that there was no real plan.  It was just get the songs down and hope for the best.

In 2010 you released Farther in This Fairy Tale album. It's quiet different album, then the first one, isnt it? It's more conceptual, right? I like the fact, that you are not making just regular songs, but  you also like to improvise. I would also like if you could share your thoughts about your latest release?

You are correct; "Farther In This Fairy Tale" was meant to be a conceptual piece of art.  A lot of care went into the lyrics as far as the story went, and musically, the songs flow rather nicely, and certain themes reoccur throughout (particularly the main riff to "White Plane").  Essentially, the lyrics deal with the end of innocence and a journey to find oneself, although people can draw their own meanings from there, as I like to leave it sort of open ended.  "The Universal Mind Decoder" was a 4 minute song initially, but it turned into the giant improvisational piece that it currently is, recorded as a full band in one take.  The fade-out to the "Reprise" is also an improv, but mostly, and perhaps I don't want to ruin the illusion, but everything else is mostly scripted.

We recorded that one in the summer of 2009, same studio and everything as the EP.  This time around though, there was definitely a clear vision of how the final product should sound, and things were very mapped out.  We got very effects heavy, and fell in love with the phaser and mellotron this time around.  An initial self-released pressing on CD came out January 1, 2010.  We gigged behind it and such, and then we sent it around to some labels last fall.  Nasoni caught wind of it around November 2010, and once it was decided it would be released by them, I went back and completely remixed the entire record, fixed the track listing to fit the storyline as I had wished was done initially, and had it remastered.  So it was just re-released on March 16, 2011 on vinyl. I think it's a great record that sounds better than I ever envisioned and I'm happy it's finally out on a label.

How is touring going for you? Are you satisfied with it? Share an interesting experience you had from concerts...

We honestly haven't done much touring, and have mostly stuck to New York City and the surrounding states.  Hopefully if any bookers across the U.S. are reading this, they can help change that!  But setting it up has been rather difficult thus far.

One story off the top of my head though was when we were playing in Boston and the club owner wouldn't let us leave until he bought us a pizza for dinner!  He was rather adamant about it...a really nice guy.  Most owners wouldn't do that.

How about some future plans for the band? By that I mean do you have an idea for new album in the future? Where will you go touring? I hope you come to Europe ( It would be very groovy to see you on avenue for alternative culture called Metelkova in Ljubljana, Slovenia)

We're itching to record again! There is a general idea how the next record is going to sound in our heads, and we have 3 or 4 new songs being introduced into the live shows to sort of develop them.  I think the plan this time is to do the record in stages over a few months, as opposed to diving head in like we have in the past.  We've learned our lesson and just want to take our time.

As far as touring, yes, that is the plan, to just get out of the city, and hit the road. Ultimately, touring Europe, where we seem to have a rather large following as compared to here, is the big goal.  Playing spots like you mention, where there is a scene, and then getting on some festivals would be ideal!

What is your opinion about psychedelic scene these days?

Interesting question, and something I think about a lot.  There seem to be tons of pockets throughout the world rife with psych bands.  I think the scene is still rather vibrant, and it's great to have so many bands at it. Obviously over time, the scene has taken on many influences, and different meanings.  Currently, it seems as if the prevalent type in America is drone or psych-tinged folk, and it has moved rather far from it's "pure form."  As long as it keeps opening new ears to the weird sounds out there, it's all good.  For us, though, the scene will never top what it once was.

Thank you very much for your time and effort. Do you have anything else to say about the band or yourself, that I didn't ask?

Well we'd like to thank you as well for allowing us to do this.  Any help along the way goes very far.  We're glad our music is touching people and fans are interested in reading about us.  I hope people dig the record and can take something from it.  For those curious, it's streaming on our bandcamp site (  And for all the latest news, you can check out our facebook (      

I hope we see you soon in Slovenia!

Trust me, when we make it over there, you will be the first to know!

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright 2011

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