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Interview | Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson frontman discusses influences, writing lyrics and touring

Published: Friday, December 7, 2012

Updated: Friday, December 7, 2012 00:12


Patrick Watson, a Canadian group known for its experimental sounds and cabaret pop style, has been lauded by many music publications as a new band to watch. Originally just the work of front man/singer-songwriter Patrick Watson, a full eponymous group formed in 2007. The group has toured with artists like James Brown and Feist, and its most recent album, “Adventures in Your Own Backyard” (2012), has received rave reviews. Watson, the group’s down-to-earth front man, spoke with the Daily about his expectations for this album and his band’s past.

The Tufts Daily: Who are your musical influences?

Patrick Watson: I come from so many different types of music. We are people who listen to different pieces of the puzzle. We never listen to one thing and stay on that. We try to fuse many different types of music; you can go from Simon & Garfunkel to some modern bands. We see ourselves as musical thieves, being inspired by different aspects of many bands and groups.

TD: Patrick Watson has made a name as a group that is consistently experimental. How do you keep creating new musical sounds and feelings in your work?

PW: At the end of the day, I think that a song should be able to be played in its simplest form, with a guitar and a few voices. After that, I think it’s a question of what kind of story you’re trying to tell; we tailor our arrangement to the specific story we want our listener to feel. We want our music to be recognizable, different than anything ever made. We really don’t like repeating ourselves.

TD: Patrick Watson has been called a band to watch by many publications. Does this inspire pressure?

PW: We are a band who has been together long enough to know that we’ve worked out our nuts and bolts. I think the one thing that sets us apart is the live aspect of our music. We work hard to make sure that the live experience is unique and intense. There has been so much love put into creating our live shows, and after touring the country and seeing a lot of shows, I think we still manage to have a live experience that is singular. When it comes to a band to watch, it’s so obscure. I don’t really care about that. I can say that I am really proud of what we did with this album and what we offer to audiences in the live experience. People who walk away from our concerts without knowing us are kind of amazed because it was not what they were expecting and they’ve never seen something like it.

TD: It seemed like your earlier albums focused on more instrumental and score-like compositions, whereas your new album, “Adventures In Your Own Backyard,” seemed to be more song-oriented. What prompted this shift?

PW: We are not your typical radio pop band. Our music is a little more crazy and experimental, but I think with this you get some really touching moments. It’s not snobby music; we think it’s very accessible. I didn’t really study songs when I was younger, so I’m just learning how to write songs in earnest. I’m a little late. I hate writing words; it’s like pulling your hair out. Instrumental music is much more natural for me. For me, this album is part of my musical development and education.

TD: Your music is constantly called “dream-like” and “ethereal.” Is this a conscious effort?

PW: I want music to take me somewhere else, take me out of my body. That’s what I want out of music. There’s no trying. It is something that happens very naturally. It would be hard for me to try to make this sound consciously.

TD: Do you have any expectations about how your newest record will be received? 

PW: Expectation is poison in music. I wanted to work harder in the States, so we have done that. But I think expectation is a little dangerous. There are only so many things that we can control; so much of it is luck, and hard work and coincidence. But, I think people will like the record. We feel good about that. We think there will be some really nice moments for listeners. But, you know, you get your song on a TV show and your record is suddenly huge. So, I have no expectations; it’s outside of your hands. To be a buzz band or a big band is something you just can’t expect.

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