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Meet The Artist: Palo Sopraño

Updated: May 19


May 13th, 2024


It was a beautiful and sunny day in Bend, Oregon when Ryan Pickard, the creative force behind Palo Sopraño, sat down with me to discuss his music. I was lucky enough to get to see his electric set opening for Peach Pit the week before, and I knew immediately that I had to have him on The Music Box. He has mastered the art of feel-good, surfy indie music and he told me a bit about his process, favorite songs to play live, and even his experience meeting Mac DeMarco.


Cece Faulkner: I saw you open for Peach Pit, I was blown away. I thought, “I can’t believe I didn’t know about these people and I live in Bend!” So how do you and your band, or the people you perform with, make music?


Ryan Pickard: 99% of the music is just me recording, I’ll occasionally make a song with my bassist Lloyd. My brother plays keyboard and drums in the band. Yeah, Lloyd and Trent. 


CF: When did music become a part of your life?


RP: Probably before I was even born. My mom was putting headphones on me, and I grew up in a really musical family. My mom plays piano, my dad plays guitar, my brother plays the drums, my sister plays the cello. Guitar and bass were the first things I learned. 


CF: So music has been in your system.


RP: It's part of my DNA. But yeah, I’d say like 10 or 11 was when I picked up the guitar and bass. 


CF: When did you formally start releasing music?


RP: Palo Sopraño was 2016, I think it was Valentine’s Day 2016. I put out my first album called “Blue Honey” on Bandcamp and the following year I started releasing on Spotify. 


CF: Would you say that living in Bend has influenced your music at all?


RP: Um, I don’t know. I feel like not really. I feel like you might associate Bend with folk music.


CF: That’s why I can’t believe I didn’t know about you, because a lot of the local music isn’t really my taste, but you guys are totally up my alley. 


RP: I started with a kind of a surfy-jazz vibe.


CF: See, and I love that kind of stuff. 


RP: Definitely inspired by music more than location. 


CF: What kind of music, what artists, influence you?


RP: So much stuff! When I saw Mac DeMarco doing everything himself made me think that I could do something like that, and I did. Obviously The Beatles, I like soul music, but yeah I listen to a lot of genres. I got really inspired to do everything by myself by Mac. I like 70s music and music that makes you feel good and has good melodies and chord progressions. 


CF: I think my favorite song you played, and again I didn’t know any of your music before this but now I’m a superfan! But I loved hearing “I wish I had a friend named tom” live. How did that song come to be? It’s so fun!


RP: I fuckin’ love that song! It was the first time Bella (Chiggi Momo) and I had ever hung out, and she came over, and I pulled up Logic and we made a little instrumental. Then we had to write lyrics and the first thing I said was “I wish I had a friend named Tom”, and then we thought that was funny and kept writing. We ended up thinking “That was actually a good concept, let’s build on that”, we just got weird with it. We wrote that together and I’m super happy with how that one came out. We probably made that whole song in three hours.


CF: Songs that come together like that are always so fun. And now you actually have a friend named Tom, right? The photographer?


RP: Tom is here! We’re at Tom’s bar!


CF: Oh that was the same Tom! I didn’t make that connection, that’s so funny. 


RP: It’s legitimately crazy, it manifested in the wildest way (laughter).


CF: Your most recent single is called “Rock and Roll”, and you like 70s music, so how does rock and roll play a role in your life or how has it in the past?


RP: “Rock and Roll”, I mean, it’s interesting because in that song I’m saying it’s rock and roll to love. 


CF: Yeah, the relationship part of it.


RP: It’s kind of badass to live your life after a fling, but rock and roll in general, it’s everything. I don’t know how rock and roll I am, but I’ve been leaning more towards it being a rock show. 


CF: It definitely felt like that live, the energy was awesome.


RP: Rock and roll brings people together, I love the community vibe of a rock show. Since I went to my first rock show, you know. It’s kind of hard to talk about. It’s a genre but it’s also a whole community and way of life. 


CF: You ended up closing with a cover of a song by The Strokes, I’m curious if they’re an influence. Are they one of your favorite bands?


RP: I mean, “Someday” is one of my favorite songs for sure. It’s one of the most nostalgic songs ever for me, from the second it starts I’m like transported back in time to seventh grade and being on MySpace and having it be my song on my wall or whatever. 


CF: I never got to experience that, it makes me so jealous. 


RP: Oh my god, MySpace was the shit. Imagine you go to someone’s, like, Facebook page and it plays a song. You have a whole playlist. 


CF: Why did they ever stop doing that! But anyway, that cover was awesome, it was a perfect way to end the set. I’m sure you left with so many new fans.


RP: It’s been amazing, this last week, so many people followed me after the show and were being super nice. 


CF: The whole show, everyone, the openers, Peach Pit, how did that come to be? I loved the story about you winning Peach Pit’s van, it cracked me up!


RP: Yeah I won their van from a contest.


CF: What year was that? 


RP: It was like 2018 or 2019, but yeah I moved to LA to pursue music and the second day I was there, I was down in the dumps, and staying at my friends house. I was very lost in the world, and I didn’t really even know who Peach Pit was and I got a ticket to see them in the Moroccan Lounge. I went and saw them and thought, “Holy shit, this is exactly what I want to do.” They really inspired me from that show. Down the line, maybe 6 months or a year later, they made a video giving away their van and asking people to submit music and they’d pick a winner. Being able to play with them now and hang out with them was super crazy.


CF: And you won but you didn’t even end up getting the van!


RP: No I didn’t get the van! (Laughter) I didn’t read the terms and conditions on that one.


CF: It’s honestly funnier how the whole thing worked out since it broke down.


RP: Yeah they were like, “It’s going to cost $600 in repairs to get it from Canada to LA” and I had just moved there and had, like, $100. There’s no way! They ended up putting me on the guest list for a show at the Troubadour and I got to meet them and stuff.


CF: So how did you go from meeting them at the Troubadour to opening for them in Bend?


RP: I saw they were coming to Bend and that it had sold out, and I messaged them and told them that if there were any more tickets released or needed an opener to hit me up. Like a month later I got a response saying, “How many people are in your band?” and then another month later they asked, “Do you guys want to open the Bend show?” and I was like “More than anything!” 


CF: I didn’t know you were on the lineup which was a bummer. 


RP: I know, we weren’t advertised at all.


CF: I thought it was sad that they didn’t advertise you because I would’ve loved to learn a couple songs beforehand so I could sing along. I’m so happy that I do know your music now! When you’re going to make music, what does that process look like for you?


RP: Sitting down at my computer, plugging in a guitar and pedals, and just immediately trying to make a song. I usually don't have anything down beforehand, it’s just kind of spur of the moment, try to find some chords, something that sounds cool. Make a melody, and write stuff over it. Definitely just going into the studio room in my house and plugging away at it. 


CF: Okay, and I have some rapid fire questions for you. Easy ones. What’s your favorite season?


RP: Right now.


CF: Really? Like in between Spring and Summer?


RP: Yeah, my birthday is the 24th so I feel like it’s my favorite. Not too hot, but still sunny.


CF: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? You can pick a few if you want.


RP: When I was 10 years old I saw Bowling For Soup, they were my favorite band ever. My dad took me to the Wow Hall in Eugene. We were outside after the show and Jared, the lead singer, came up to us and invited us on the tour bus, and that immediately changed my life! I was 10 years old, I met everyone in Bowling For Soup, my favorite band at the time. Still love them. They had candy machines and PS2s, yeah, my mind was blown. A more recent show, I saw IDLES at the Teragram in 2019 or 2020, they had so much energy. Watching the lead singer Joe scream and punch himself and stomp his foot, it was mind blowing. The show that we played the other night, I mean, I was playing it, but as far as a concert goes, it was one of my favorites. Annie Dirusso, Peach Pit, everyone was amazing. 


CF: All three acts were great, and I’d never seen Peach Pit before, and they were completely different live than what I’d expected them to be, very much more rock feeling than a lot of their music is. When Neil came out and crowd surfed in the first thirty seconds of their show, I was mind blown. 


RP: Yeah, they rocked the fuck out. 


CF: What’s your favorite venue to play at in Bend?


RP: Um, I’d say Volcanic Theatre Pub. I like playing there, I’m playing there a couple more times this year. They recently remodeled and it fits more people now, but I have so many good memories of playing there. 


CF: Do you prefer cats or dogs? Or neither?


RP: I have a cat, I love her, but I’m more of a dog person! (Laughter)


CF: Betrayal! Poor cat. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live? That’s not Bend or LA, places you’ve already lived.


RP: I don’t know, maybe like upstate New York in like a cabin or house with a big yard, and I’d get a dog. Or somewhere kind of tropical and beachy. Malibu would be cool. 


CF: What’s your favorite color?


RP: Blue. Or like a turquoise, baby blue vibe.


CF: If you could have coffee with any artist, dead or alive, who would you choose? Or beer in your case.

 

RP: Hmm. I’ve met Mac DeMarco once, we embraced each other in the street, it was like two in the morning after his show in Portland, and I was probably 19. I ran up to him, he was about to go into the afterparty. I was just like, “I love you!” and he said “Hey man! What’s up!” and we just hugged in the street for a minute or two. There was no one else on the street. It was one of the mst pure moments in my life. So, I think Mac DeMarco because he’s a very genuine, nice, interesting guy. A dead artist, maybe Mac Miller. The two Macs. 


CF: What is a song that you love to perform live?


RP: We recently started doing “WWE (Alone, Okay)”, I feel like that’s been fun to play because I get to do a little crazy guitar solo and go wild. Also “Someday” though, I like doing covers. 


CF: Awesome. That’s all I have for you!


RP: Thanks for going to the show and catching my set!


CF: See you around.


Palo Sopraño's music is on all streaming platforms and you can keep up with him on

Instagram (@palosoprano).


Pictures from Sopraño's show on 5/18/24 at Silver Moon Brewing.


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