By Tim Spencer Patrick Wolf is young, queer, and talented. The past ten years has seen him hit the big time with his versatile style which mixes electronic sampling with classical instruments and even the odd ukulele, but before he moves on to create the music for the next ten years, Wolf is spending some time to reflect and celebrate the past. In preparation for his upcoming Australian tour, Mr Wolf spoke with QNews Music Editor Tim Spencer over the phone – the conversation went a little something like this: QNews: How are you going Patrick? Patrick Wolf will perform at The Tivoli on Friday 7 Sept. Tickets via www.ticketek.com.au or call 132849
Patrick Wolf: I’m great thank you, just well, just very fine thank you.
Where have we got you today?
P: In my kitchen
T: Are you already in Oz, or are you in your hometown?
P: I am in London, yeah I have got a lot of preparing and working on artwork and videos before I can get on the plane to Australia
T: Would this be your second time here in Oz, what anniversary does this make this?
P: I think it is my third tour…no no fourth time back
T: And this will be the first time hitting Australia since the release of Lupercalia?
P: Yeah I tried to make it happen so much, but the ten year anniversary was coming up and I always said to myself when I was younger I would make an album when I started song writing.
I have read that it is just going to be you and one other person as the band, what inspired that?
Well it is something that I haven’t really extensively toured, and Australia gets the first blast of this new album. This album is really looking back on the ten years and choosing the songs that really mean the most to me. I am doing one show in London then off to Australia, I am going back to before my first EP came out when I used to bask and play in folk clubs without microphones and back then I would play songs for my supper. I really think you have to look back before you can go forward.
Is this new album more of an instrumental? Is there a band backing, or is there going to be the sound effect of you and another person on stage?
There is a little bit of embellishment on the idea but basically I was listening to a lot of Johnny Cash and a lot of albums that are just one voice and one instrument, and I thought it was time that I really strip down to those base instruments. I think it’s a chance as well to recreate songs that were a little lost in the production and lost with the pompousness and theatre which I’ve become allergic to as I have gotten older.
What sort of songs do you think of when you say that? It’s not ‘The City’ at all or is it early stuff?
No, not at all. I think I really hit my stride on the last album and I am really proud of how it sounds, I don’t think I would really change anything on that. I am doing a cover of ‘House’ on the new record because I always felt there was a little Latin heartbeat to it than the production that was there. I am not really one to have regrets, so this isn’t a way to raise the regrets of production over the years. I love it for its time but maybe not in 5 years and the other thing is that my voice has changed tons since the early albums. My sister studied opera at school and they always made the boys wait till they were 27 or 29 to start their degrees because that is when their voices were fully developed.
I had read in press releases that you had met a boy and you were very much in love, and I think themes like that were very noticeable in Lupercalia; with this new album what are your themes and messages?
I think that if we go to the LGBT world, Bermondsey Street became very important over the last two years of touring for me and my audience as a kind of statement. It is a protest song that I never thought would really turn into one. Touring in Russia and having a lot of fans turn up from the Ukraine and kind of seeing the crumbling of civil rights in Russia and I kind of came out of that feeling that if I ever readdress that song that is was for Russia.
Well I think we could use that support here if you’re inspired by what is going on here with Queensland Government?
Well exactly, and the thing is a song like ‘The City,’ I think it was by accident that my relationship went public. I am not really used to people prying into my private life too much. At first I felt very over exposed and wondered where that privacy that any couple straight or gay would have was. It was like I would pick up the paper and read about my civil union and there would be one line about the music. Then I would think ‘as long as it makes someone out there happy and less exposed’ then I am fine with it.
Just on the LGBT topic whenever you do google Patrick Wolf or search you on wikipedia they do like to talk about your private life, they do like to label you. We recently had a band here called Operator Please and the bass guitarist was labelled as coming out but as he put it he was just always that way he never actually came out, was that the case for you, do you think we have come a long way?
I don’t think we have come anywhere. I think we have gone backwards, the reason is when I was a teenager and everyone would say ‘what are you going to do’ and at that time I was already sleeping around and I was comfortable in my sexuality, I was dreaming of falling in love and meeting the right boy and experimenting with girls. I loved rock and roll and the freedom and escapism that came from it. The rock and roll era that died with the influx of RnB and this influx of Machoism and the music industry has become very heterosexual. It used have this idea of peace and it would be hip and cool to be androgynous or gay. It’s good to promote these things, but now there is no rock and roll spirit. It’s all about fucking women and get your boobs out - it's very hetro. I will continue to stand on my own two feet and be who I am whether I sell 2 records or 2 billion records.
What is your following like in the UK and Australia given you have the alterative music followers and other communities?
I think with the last album the way that it was presented, despite me complaining about the whole civil union thing here, the music was amazing. I played on Radio 2 over here which is a very family orientated mainstream radio station. I really kind of broke through into this amazing new audience which I always wanted. I wanted all the undergrounds and the freaks to be in the audience as the mums, dads and grandmas.
T: Now do you already have a plan on what you are going to look like when we see you at the Tivoli in September?
P: To be honest this album is really about touching base with the energy of how I started, at the beginning of the year I shaved my head and when I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognise myself. When I was 12 I went into the city and bleached my hair blond like Debbie Harry and that started the trend of never seeing my hair colour. I thought I might have great hair or something but I didn’t and now I look how my mum and dad made me and it is kind of quite enjoy it at the moment. I am also making two special outfits just for Australia out of tablecloths.
By Tim Spencer
Patrick Wolf is young, queer, and talented. The past ten years has seen him hit the big time with his versatile style which mixes electronic sampling with classical instruments and even the odd ukulele, but before he moves on to create the music for the next ten years, Wolf is spending some time to reflect and celebrate the past. In preparation for his upcoming Australian tour, Mr Wolf spoke with QNews Music Editor Tim Spencer over the phone – the conversation went a little something like this:
QNews: How are you going Patrick?
Patrick Wolf will perform at The Tivoli on Friday 7 Sept. Tickets via www.ticketek.com.au or call 132849