More than 10 years ago, Picture Atlantic crafted a sound of its own. Since then the band has released two albums, four EPs, and have a third full-length on the way. While it’s been four years since the band’s last record Digital Tension, Picture Atlantic expects to drop another album in the second half of October.
With the Release of “Billy Banker,” a single of Picture Atlantic’s upcoming third album and a release show at Bottom of the Hill last weekend, the Bay Area indie rockers are back and ready for action. The group is equipped with a new lineup and a long list of fresh songs. Though the first single is different from what the band has done in the past, singer and guitarist Nikolaus Bartunek said “Billy Banker” still remains true to the band’s sound.
“It certainly is more aggressive sounding or punk rock compared to some of our other stuff,” says Bartunek. “We thought it might be kind of nice to do something that’s a little bit more cut, dry, and kind of tangible for people. It doesn’t take a ton of time for the song to really launch and sort of find its feet.”
Bartunek enjoys that the song is upbeat, catchy, and to the point. It became one of the band’s favorite songs on the new album, and the members chose it as a single because they thought it showcased their best work. “We felt pretty strongly about the song,” Bartunek said.
Recording is a process the members of Picture Atlantic try not to rush. Part of the reason it took so long to release the third album is because each member spent time producing songs that met their standards. “You can do a lot of music quickly and that’s OK, but I think in some cases the quality can kinda suffer,” Bartunek said. “Not everything that we write as a band we necessarily even want to put out. We’d rather spend a little bit of extra time to put out music that we feel really good about and feel is our strongest, instead of putting out whatever comes across our plate.”
Another reason the album took a while to complete was because it was around the time the band decided to part ways with the original keyboard player Brian Graves. “The band has been around for close to 11 years now, and the lineup changes have been pretty immense and drastic over the years,” Bartunek said. “How we met was in school a long time ago, but none of those people are really in the band anymore. It’s really just people joined us as we continued the band.”
The band now consist of bass player Ryan Blair, who grew up playing music and going to school in Santa Clara with Bartunek and drummer Daniel Martinez.
“The band as it is now formed really because we needed a new drummer and our live guitar player at the time introduced us to Daniel. We had him as a fill in and he was really great so we just sort of worked towards having him join officially,” Bartunek said.
From there, the trio met their live keyboardist Symeon Tzvetkov who used to tour with the group as extra help. “He was a fan of our music and expressed interest,” Bartunek said. “He’d come and be on long road trips with us and play magic together with us and kind of hang out and just kind of became a friend.”
Since then, the group has grown closer and reached a great sense of teamwork and camaraderie. This is in part due to humility and because the members of the band push each other to improve according to Bartunek.
“I think we’re at a much better and much more mature stage in terms of our musicianship,” he said. “There’s a lot of humility across the board about how we approach songwriting and our instruments.”
With a strong team and a new passion for writing songs, Picture Atlantic is ready to enter a new phase of the band. “Once the album actually releases we’ll be a lot more active. We really want to start recording again. We’ve got something like 30 songs kind of just sitting that need to be worked on and prepared for recording another release,” Bartunek said.
The band’s next Bay Area date is in Napa at the end of the month, with some other California dates planned for the rest of the fall.