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Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms

Interview von: arne mit Patrick Watson, am: 15.05.2009 ]

In Kanada sind Patrick Watson und seine Wooden Arms längst etablierte und beliebte Indie-Stars. Mit dem zweiten Album „Wooden Arms“ steht für die Montrealer nun auch die Eroberung der „alten Welt“ auf dem Programm, die das Outfit mit gleichsam bodenständigen, intensiven und gefühlvollen Songs angeht, die schlichtweg gefallen müssen. Zwischen fragilen Singer/Songwriter-Sounds, etwas Elektronik und orchestral-ausladender Epik bieten die Nordamerikaner ein denkbar breites Spektrum.


Musicscan: First of all: How big is the interest in Patrick Watson coming back with a new studio record? Do you get lots of requests to do interviews and stuff? Any changes to your previous record? What are people asking this time – something different or unexpected?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: Well, to be honest, interview questions have a tendency to be quite straight forward and dare i say boring (although this is a good question in itself!) We have been getting many requests, so we try to do them all in one day whenever possible. As far as the record goes, it was very important to all of us to evolve. We are the sort of musicians that dont dwell on things for to long. Always moving forward towards something. What that thing is is actually not the point, but it is more about the ride there. Musically, we tried to steer away from the piano driven floatiness of CTP, and to strip down a bit. Also, we experimented with unconventional sound making devices (I am reticent to say music instrument, as things varied from broken strings to tree branches to drawers to old film foley devices)

Musicscan: Especially for Europe Patrick Watson has always seemed to me to be an underdog act: Always maintaining a high level of respect from critics and your peers, though never quite attaining the commercial success that you and the band was due. Would you agree?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: Hmmm, not necesseraly. Take Holland for example. The first time we played there as headliners, at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, there were maybe 20 people there. Then we went back, then went back again, and again, and again......(you get it). We built up a nice following there through good ol-fashioned grit and hard work. There is no easy way around it. Its simple like that.

Musicscan: Right now, the music scene seems to go even more strange than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and creativity are concerned. What are your thoughts on this development?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: Its a very important evolution. And quite a natural one as well. We humans have been evolving since the beginning of man, in all facets of life. I know this all sounds ethereal and vague and thats because the tiny context of music this day and age is such a nano-slice of all things. I could get into the rise of downloading and pirating and the fall of the recording buisness as we know it, but I think that would turn into a full blown thesis!!

Musicscan: Patrick Watson has been around for some time now. What fuels the fire and keeps you interested in the music you create? How do you stay so prolific musically?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: $$$$$$ dolla dolla bills yo!!! JUST KIDDING!!!

Musicscan: Your music is very passionate and spirited. What would you have done with your passion and spirit when you couldn't put this in music?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: In the words of Viv Savage (keyboard player in Spinal Tap) Id probably go stark raving mad and run around in the streets yelling at random passers by.

Musicscan: With the direction of Patrick Watson heading a certain way and fans growing with you over the years, do you feel the fans can now relate to what you are feeling or at least understand what you are trying to tell them with your music?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: I couldn’t answer that as we are not the fans! I never want to assume what people get out of life, let alone what they get out of our music. We are simply storytellers, sound being our means to tell those stories. Each person will interpret and be affected by these stories in different ways. And none of those feelings/interpretations are wrong. We just want to make people feel something!

Musicscan: What ideas and “strategies” went into the process of setting apart Wooden Arms from the highly successful Close to Paradise? Did you do something differently by choice that you hadn't done previously to keep things progressing?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: Highly Succesful? Why thank you for those kind words! We did indeed do somethings differently. But as before, we approach each individual piece completely differently from the last. That evolution thing again! We kept the approach of recording in different places on the globe. This time around, the recording of this record brought us to Iceland, France and of course Montreal. All of these places brought something special to the record. Also, as I said before, we recorded a lot of non-conventionally sounds.

Musicscan: How important is to Patrick Watson to create something original every time you are writing a song?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: We like to let the story and the music go where it wants to go. We are just conductors for these stories. We have a wide range of influences and musical preferences between the four of us, so those stories always end up going somewhere interesting, in my opinion (at least the stories that make it to the public!)

Musicscan: Have you been able to surprise yourself with the new record? And have there been certain issues you specifically wanted to address with Wooden Arms?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: I have to say yes. Im repeating myself, but its a natural evolution from CTP. I really feel were all still getting better and better at playing and storytelling and communicating (with each other and others around us, and we still have a lot to learn (and will continue to learn for the rest of our lives hopefully). As far as addressing issues, I feel it important to say that this is a band effort, not a singer-songwritter record. The four of us have been playing and creating together for close to 10 years now. I heard the average life span of a band is 5 years, so we have passed that hump long ago!

Musicscan: Would you agree that your music sometimes seem rather melancholic and dark, or what is your perspective on your own music? Beside all those dark and sobering music and lyrics I like to think that there’s a positive outlook, too…

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: Not at all. I think people interpret our music as melancholic and dark simply because the brain hears something slower in tempo (not that all the songs are slow at all), and automatically think it has to be sad. Im not saying what we write is overly happy, but yes, there is a positive outlook to it. Were all quite content people. Id go so far as saying happy (but not in that overly religious hippy dippy way!), but like every person on the planet, we have our down days. Life aint black and white and art tends to imitate life, so I hope we achieve something in that.

Musicscan: I know a strong part of the Patrick Watson sound is about experimentation. What borders, musically speaking, do you wanna knock down in the future?

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: All of them!

Musicscan: Where do you see the line drawn between progressing on what you do well, and completely offering a new direction or sound? Especially in the context of Patrick Watson.

Patrick Watson And The Wooden Arms: I think we all have tendancies to follow a certain path in life. Sometimes that path twists and turns like a snake in a labyrinth. And our job is to follow that path. Actually, theres no real choice to, unless you just stand still. Whats the fun in that???!!

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