After relentlessly touring their last two albums worldwide with over 350 shows in the last three years THE PICTUREBOOKS went back to their very own recording studio, boosting with inspiration and self-confidence. The goal was to add a new vibe to their music while still keeping true to THE PICTUREBOOKS sound aesthetic. They used their new-found inspiration to work harder on the production of “The Hands of Time” and to experiment with their signature sound and even introduced new instruments such as piano or tubular bells. They handcrafted some of their own percussion instruments as well, which they will be taking on the road with them to further spice up their energetic live shows.
Years earlier, before the release of "Imaginary Horse", the duo had gone into a painful but necessary hiatus away from music, where duo Fynn Claus Grabke [vocals/guitars] and Philipp Mirtschink [drums] spent time as gearheads saving motorcycles from the scrapheap. Together, Grabke and Mirtschink put their creativity to steel, grease, and carburetors building heavily customized Harley Davidsons while everything from classic rock and punk rock to garage rock and classic country blasted from the boombox. In fact, THE PICTUREBOOKS’ albums are always partly recorded in their very own garage, right next to the actual studio.
“Motorcycles saved our lives back then!” says Grabke. “They brought us back to music to be honest. After being a band for a long time—going through all kinds of stages career-wise—we reached a point where it didn’t feel right, and we felt the need to separate from it for a while. We kinda got lost in the desert, building and riding bikes. At home, we built a motorcycle garage next to our studio and we had a lot of time to think about music and the band and what we really wanna get out of it. It paved our way to where we are now.”
Grabke and Mirtschink put “The Hands of Time” to proverbial tape by leveraging the orthodox (their own studio) and the unorthodox (the group’s motorcycle garage). Between weekend gigs close and afar, skate sessions on THE PICTUREBOOKS’ own mini ramp, and new motorcycle builds, the combo tracked the album in their own studio in Gütersloh, Germany assisted by Grabke’s father Claus. Eventually the album was mastered by Brian Lucey at Magic Garden Mastering who already refined the sounds of albums from the likes of Biffy Clyro, Marilyn Manson, The Black Keys, Ghost or Royal Blood.
“With ‘The Hands of Time’, we learned to utilize the studio as a third instrument,” says Grabke. “We learned how to translate the power and energy that we have on stage into our recording in ways we had never done before. We were still recording stuff in our chopper garage like on the previous albums, but this time we got a lot more into producing and songwriting. We had always wanted to incorporate more instruments than just drums and guitar, so you will hear piano, tubular bells, harp, mandolin, timpani drums, and a lot of self-made percussion instruments. Whenever we used something new, the main target was to keep our vibe and stay true to our sound aesthetic.”
Indeed THE PICTUREBOOKS stayed true to their signature sound which they crafted over the last five years, starting with 2014’s celebrated “Imaginary Horse”. However, they mixed a couple of uptempo songs such as “Electric Nights” with trademark midtempo burners like “The Day The Thunder Arrives” or “Tell Me Lies”. For the first time in the band’s history they have a guest-vocalist on one of their songs: you can hear Chrissie Hynde from Pretenders on the track "You Can’t Let Go". They met her while the twosome were soundchecking at a gig they had together in picturesque Saint-Tropez.
“She heard us play and was blown away, we talked a lot that day and she gave us her number and told us to call if we ever need help in any way. When we wrote ‘You Can’t Let Go’ we knew we wanted to try something new, like having a guest appearance,” Grabke says. “Chrissie was our first choice, of course. We recorded it, sent her the song, and a few days later she recorded her part in London. We feel so honored and blessed to have Chrissie on board. She is our favorite singer and Pretenders are one of our most favorite bands of all time.”
Thematically “The Hands of Time” is about accepting and celebrating nothing but the truth, the ups and downs of life, the tears and laughter and the deep friendship between the two band members Fynn Grabke and Philipp Mirtschink. The 1st single “Howling Wolf” is basically the story of their lives: two stray dogs from a small town on their way to conquer the world - pretty soon they will be howling in your town!