Zombie Picnic Interview: “A big departure from what we’ve done before.”

Zombie Picnic

New album Rise of a New Ideology out March 9th.

What would a Zombie Picnic look like? Not very pleasant I imagine. However, a Zombie Picnic certainly sounds good. It’s the name of a prog/experimental rock group from Limerick in Ireland. After laying a solid foundation of sci fi tinged exploration on their debut album, they have returned with album number two. Titled Rise of a New Ideology it is an adventurous and exploratory entity that somehow manages to pile in some hooks too.

We had a chat with Brendan Miller (drums) about the record, Ganymede (that’s a moon of Jupiter), and the Irish music scene.

Overblown: It seems to me that the band are heading in a more direct and heavier direction with ‘Anger in Storage’. Why is that? What inspired the song musically?

Zombie Picnic: We started playing around with the intro riff for ‘Anger in Storage’ and it started to grow and become grittier, darker and heavier. It was a lot of fun to play and was a great piece to warm up with. It has the elements of a song that we have a shared love of in that it’s a bit all over the shop on the surface, but you can feel it gelling underneath. I took some inspiration from The Desert Sessions tune ‘Covered in Punk’s Blood’, I’ve always liked the energy of the drums in that song and when we started writing ‘Anger in Storage’ I knew the type of aggressive piece I needed to add to it.

‘Anger in Storage’ is a big departure from what we’ve done before and is our way of challenging ourselves and not trying to redo anything. It’s a short and snappy song at 3:19 long, which for us is a big change!

Overblown: What about thematically? What inspired the lyrics? Why have a spoken word section?

Zombie Picnic: The music is always what gets done first and we make sure we’re happy with that as much as possible before any form of theme is layered on top of it. Spoken word sections are there to give a bit of humanity to what we’re doing and to add an extra layer that can help us set the scene and give the album a mood.

The lyrics over ‘Anger in Storage’ is something Jim and his wife wrote and recorded at home, I think it works so well to have this calming voice to counteract how aggressive that song starts and finishes. Jim leads the way when it comes to forming the themes we end up using on our albums.

This album is very much structurally themed around the idea of a vinyl album. On side A we look at what the future of the planet is, and we’ve placed our 2 more expansive compositions to fill that side. Side B continues as our own brand of a self-help tape with our shorter and snappier songs to help you get through our predicted dark future!

Overblown: The title of the new record is ‘Rise of a New Ideology’. What does the title refer to?

Zombie Picnic: I think you could ask all four of us that and get four different answers! For me, It’s a nod to how drastically society is changing for both good and bad and the uncertainty involved in all of that. It also just sounds good as a title, we met for a lot of coffees before agreeing that’s what the album should be called!

Overblown: In my opinion, your new music sounds more confident and together. Is that fair to say?

Zombie Picnic: I think we’d all agree with that, there’s definitely a cohesiveness about our sound for this new album. We pushed ourselves to make a very different album to our debut and to give it a bit more polish and focus on what each song was going to be. From the initial writing/jam sessions right through to recording/mixing we knew we wanted everything to be a step up from what we had done before. Hopefully, we managed to do that!

Zombie Picnic
Artwork by Sylvain Tohad Sarrailh.

Overblown: The artwork for the album is called ‘Summer on Ganymede’. Ganymede is a moon of Jupiter and the setting for a lot of the TV show/novel The Expanse. Do you watch that show? Is science fiction an influence on the music of the band.

Zombie Picnic: Sounds like a show one of the lads might watch but I’ve never seen it! Sylvain Tohad Sarrailh is the graphic artist who kindly agreed to let us use his ‘Summer on Ganymede’ piece for the cover, it was an image that stood out for us immediately and the fact that it happened to have strong sci-fi roots was kind of a happy coincidence I think!

We’re all sci-fi heads to different degrees and love to use sci-fi themes in our music by giving layers to songs with excerpts from science fiction writing or by giving a sci-fi vibe to a track through effects.

Overblown: What Irish bands are you enjoying at the moment?

Zombie Picnic: It’s a great time to be in a band and to be a fan of music in Ireland right now. There’s so much stuff out there. Limerick has a very strong scene with bands like Casavettes who are a great band and are supporting us for our album launch, PowPig who have an excellent EP out right now, Slow Riot just released a savage double A-side single and We Come In Pieces just released their new album that I picked up last week.

I’ve been listening to Bitch Falcon and Bicurious lately and the new Pillow Queens single is class. There are Irish acts that will always be on or near any pile of albums, like Fox Jaw, Windings and RSAG. Bands like God Is an Astronaut and The Redneck Manifesto are also bringing out new albums soon so I’m really looking forward to that.

Overblown: What is the plan for the rest of the year?

Zombie Picnic: The plan is to release the album on March 9th in The Kasbah and then get out there and gig as much as possible. We’ve a gig in May with Alpha Male Tea Party in Limerick which we’re really looking forward to and lots of stuff in the works to be announced in the next couple of months. The plan later in the year is to do some gigs over in the UK.

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