Gretchen and the Pickpockets announce an April 25 release date for their new full-length album, Falling Rising, on their Pickpocket Records imprint. The new disc, which showcases 10 all-original songs, was recorded in Boston at Dimension Sounds Studio, with engineering by Dan Cardinal (Darlingside, Ballroom Thieves), mixing by Nick Nagurka (Vulfpeck) and mastering by Grammy-nominated Emily Lazar (Foo Fighters).
Gretchen and the Pickpockets is a six-piece soul/jazz/rock band featuring heavy horn lines and improvisation that started with siblings Gretchen and Mike Klempa. Besides Gretchen on vocals and Mike on bass, the rest of the band consists of Ryan O’Connell on trumpet and guitar; Tom O’Connell on drums and percussion; Richie Smith on guitar; and Diego Tunjano on saxophone. Named after a hometown road with a history for larceny, the group has become known for their unique blend of genres and their energetic live shows.
“Working with Dan Cardinal at Dimension Sounds Studios was truly a dream,” says lead singer Gretchen Klempa about the recording sessions. “Being able to take ideas for sounds and textures we’ve had in our heads and give them life through recording is an incredibly difficult yet rewarding endeavor,” adds her brother Mike. “We decided as a group to track as much of the music as we could live, together, and in full takes so that the listener can hear the communication emotion, and exchange of ideas that happens between us. So much of our music is based on jazz — we love incorporating improvisation and flexibility of interpretation. We even recorded some upright bass on this album on songs like ‘Back and Forth’ and ‘Devil’s Due’ for a warm, booming, and intimate feel.”
Watch a video about the making of Falling Rising here:
Based out of Boston, Gretchen and the Pickpockets have been active in the New England area since 2013, and recognitions include multiple Iguana Music Fund grants from Club Passim, Best in State: New Hampshire 2015 from the New England Music Awards and Best Rock Band 2015 from the Seacoast NH Spotlight Awards. They have supported bands such as Houndmouth, Marco Benevento, Haley Jane & The Primates, Kat Wright and Will Dailey.
“We won a grant to help fund this album, from the iconic Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts,” states Gretchen, “furthering our gratitude that the Boston community is behind this project.”
“We also had the awesome opportunity to track some live horns as well,” recalls Ryan O’Connell. “We are very thankful to Converse (the shoe brand), who let us track our horn section for free at their Rubber Tracks Studio in Boston.”
Past Gretchen & the Pickpockets live shows thus far have included dates in New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, Raleigh, Nashville, Asheville, Durham, Portland, Maine, and Portsmouth New Hampshire. The band will tour in support of Falling Rising with shows planned for New York City and Western New York in late April; and a July tour that includes Nashville, Raleigh, Washington, DC, Philadelphia and several other markets.
“This album was a really unique experience for us in a number of ways,” adds Richie Smith, “and I think for the first time the title of the album finally fits the story behind it. ‘Falling Rising’ is actually the name of a song we used to play and recorded for the album, but didn’t make the cut. We spent such a long time discussing that tune and trying to figure out where it could go, but in the end we decided to leave it off. And from there, Falling and Rising seemed to become more and more pertinent.”
“Over the two-year process of releasing this album, we always felt like we took a step forwards and a step back,” says Mike Klempa. “Some collaborations we hoped for didn’t come through; some that we always dreamed of ended up happening. However, I think the most subversive example of “falling and rising” was actually our session at Converse Rubber Tracks. The day we went in to the studio was the day right after the 2016 presidential election. It was a day that began with such excitement, but was met with such caution and tension. The air was thick with unease. And yet, as soon as we got our headphones on, the click track came in, and I raised my hands to conduct the horn section, we put all our thoughts and fears aside and just made something happen. And from that fear came something that we were really proud of; it ended up being such a beautiful experience. I don’t think the horns would have sounded as good under any other circumstances. We gave all we had in that studio that day. It was all we could do, and I think that is what’s really behind this album and our experiences here. Things happen. Life pushes onward forever. We fall. We rise.”