Pickwick on the Edge

The Seattle band’s new album, “LoveJoys,” emerged as a creative purging of personal anxiety.

Galen Disston, lead singer for the soulful Seattle rock band Pickwick, trades in two creative escapes: his music, a lifelong ambition and an art form with infinite possibilities; and the intricate craft of watch building, an endeavor Disston–whose band’s new record, LoveJoys, is out June 10—began only recently.

“My obsession with watches started about a year and a half ago,” says Disston, seated at a garage bench cluttered with watch parts, tweezers, and bent screwdrivers. “I think that getting into watches is an escape into a different kind of world.” But what is he escaping from, or toward? “I’ve been recording this podcast lately about my fears around the Seattle music scene and the state of it and my anxieties with it,” says the reflective, big-voiced singer. “I learned through the process of making this record that a lot of my subconscious fears were manifesting as singing nonsense.” So he sang, purging internal gibberish, until LoveJoys’ lyrics materialized.

For Disston, life is almost always on some edge. For a husband, father of two, and front man for a band not short on local attention but not yet a money machine, there are a lot of anxieties around finances, being able to follow creative muses and keeping a family intact. But in Pickwick’s new record—the first since 2013’s Can’t Talk Medicine—the singer found some sanctuary, some salvation. “Once we figured out where we want to go and what that escape looks like, we allowed for that,” he says. “We fostered it, gave into it. And the record wrote itself very fast.”

LoveJoys imbues itself with a sense of searching, a feeling that each song will lead down a dark, cold brick corridor to some secret cigar-fueled poker table where everything is at stake—like on the heartbroken “Thought It Was You,” where the singer laments, “I thought I had something when I had you/Now I don’t know what to do.” Other times, the album can feel like a drug-fueled party where people with disco heels and deep mascara wonder if flight is really possible—like on the dire “Ammonia.” The record positions itself well into the mire and the barrage of life and, in the face of it, offers a barrage of sound right back.

“Music has always been cathartic for me, especially onstage,” says Disston, who has performed as Pickwick since about 2005, before expanding the project with another handful of members, including lead guitarist/songwriter Michael Parker. “I can’t bullshit people. It’s hard for me to go on autopilot. I have to get in touch with whatever’s inside. We’re dreamers trying to orient our life.” That orientation, for Disston, can come through song or through the simple pleasure of putting a wristwatch back together in synergistic completion. The two acts may not be that different: “With these watches, there’s no battery—it’s just stored-up kinetic energy,” says Disston, who works as a high-rise window washer during the day. “It fascinates me, to see all this work happening in harmony. It’s like magic.”

Neumos, 925 E Pike St., 709-9442, neumos.com. $15. All ages. 8 p.m. Sat., June 10.

More in Music

Angel Olsen: Always worth a closer inspection. Photo by Taylor Boylston
The Bare Bones of Angel Olsen

Seattle Weekly chats with the reflective singer-songwriter ahead of her Seattle solo show.

Album Premiere: Lizzie Weber – ‘You’

The Seattle folk singer-songwriter pens potent and poetic breakup songs on her new EP.

Labor Day weekend, Bumbershoot style.
A Look Back at Bumbershoot 2018

Thoughts and photos to recap the annual extravaganza.

Knife Knights emerges from the woods to play its first public live set at Bumbershoot. Photo by Justin Henning
Bumbershoot 2018 Picks

Music headliners, comedians, and local favorites: These are the acts to seek out at this weekend’s festivities.

Best of Seattle 2018: Arts & Entertainment

Best Musical Act Thunderpussy After years, 2018 finally (finally!) saw Thunderpussy put… Continue reading

Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino get a touch melodramatic about not needing a script for Off Book: The Improvised Musical podcast. Photo by Robyn Von Swank
‘Off Book’: Silly Story Singing Sans Script

The Broadway-worthy hijinks of ‘Off Book: The Improvised Musical’ podcast come to Bumbershoot.

Whitney Ballen Is a ‘Shooting Star’

The destinctive-voiced Isaquah singer-songwriter comes into her own on her new album ‘You’re a Shooting Star, I’m a Sinking Ship.’

Death Cab for Cutie Doesn’t Connect on ‘Thank You For Today’

While it’d be a fine record for most bands, the group’s new album falls short of its own standard thanks to questionable production and sequencing decisions.

Eddie Vedder at an earlier 2018 Pearl Jam show. Photo by Raph_PH/Flickr
Pearl Jam As Rock Archivists

The Home Shows at Safeco Field weren’t about the band’s legacy, but that of the genre as a whole.

Photo by Josh Kelety
City Council Passes Temporary Historic Protection for The Showbox

With a lively crowd on hand, the Council unanimously voted to delay any demolition of the venue by 10 months.

The 10 Best Moments From SPF30

A look back at the high points of Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary blowout.

30 For (Sub Pop’s) 30

To celebrate the record label’s 30th anniversary, we attempt to pick the best song from every year of its existance.