I had the, well for lack of a better word - great - opportunity to speak with Patience Hodgson of The Grates ahead of their upcoming ‘Team Work Makes The Dream Work’ tour. The Brisbane 3 piece consisting of Patience, her husband John Patterson and new drummer Ritchie Daniell are hitting the east coast with their vibrant, must see, ‘WTAF - how is she still singing throughout all that physical activity?’ gigs this August, as well as returning to the Splendour stage in July. Despite the whole shitting myself and trying to stay cool while conversing with possibly the maddest chick in rock situation, I managed to string some words together that she was able to respond to. We spoke about their hectic schedule, the recording process for ‘Dream Team’, the sexy film-clip for their new single ‘Call Me’ and spiteful neighbours with their revenge tactics.
*Spoiler – she is really sweet and hilarious.
Kate: Hey Patience, how are you?
P: Excellent, how are you?
K: A bit nervous but what can you do?
P: Oh don’t even worry, I’ll be your easiest interview, I just talk.
K: (Laughs) Awesome, that’s good to hear.
Well first of all, there are quite a few congrats to send your way: including the success of your latest album Dream Team which you managed to smash out in a matter of days, winning Best Rock Artist for your song Holiday Home in the Queensland Music Awards & of course the arrival of little Soda into your family. So congrats on all of that, you’ve had quite a year!
P: Thank you! Yeah it’s just been huge! You know what? So much has happened but at least with doing the record stuff we tried to plan it so that every part of it was really enjoyable and completely in our comfort zone, because when we did all the stuff in the States the last time, for the last album, it was completely out of our comfort zone. We had a new drummer and also, you know we come from scorched Earth Brisbane winter, like, I’m sitting here in bike shorts; but when we were over there, there were snow storms and the Snowpocalypse! One time, we knew it was going to snow heaps and would be really bad but we still rode to the band room and then while we were in the band room, like, looking out the window was just white. That was it. And we were just trapped in the band room and we were like, “Ok, cool, well that’s fine, what else were we going to do anyway, this is why we’re here” but it was just totally different, everything was just so different. We were also working with producers that we didn’t really have a relationship with, but this time we did everything the opposite. We were like, “We’re doing it in Australia! We’re working with Owen (Penglis)!” We already knew him; I had heaps of faith in him and also just wanted to do it quickly! And it was rad because I feel like we didn’t go into a normal studio situation; it like, takes 3 days before you’re even able to record anything! The first thing is normally drums but you’ve gotta set up the microphones, get sound. We go down there and we were just recording drums within 2 hours! He had already set everything up and he knew how to use the mics and had already sort of worked out the sound of the room and there was no like, de-motivating first 3 days that always feels like a huge waste of time to the artists. It was just great, you know, it was all in the pocket, nice and warm in the comfort zone. So even though there was a lot of stuff to do, it was good to be able to make it really enjoyable.
K: It certainly comes out in the album, which I’m loving by the way.
I’m just wondering, with so much going on, how are you able to simultaneously run your business South Side Tea Room, manage a record label, create an album, tour the album, create videos, give birth and then raise a human? My comparatively simple life still makes me tired; I don’t know how you’re doing it?
P: We’re just surrounded by good people currently, which is awesome. There are just so many good people in our lives. Like Ritchie is great, Ritchie does heaps to do with the record label with John, and then we’ve got really good management and the people that work at our shop we’ve just got and that’s so, like, team work makes the dream work (both laugh – nice, I see what you did there). It’s how it’s all like, getting done, because there’s not just like, one sole person doing it all, because there’s just too much to do. Realistically, from behind the scenes, I wish I could be doing more. I know there are areas that I feel are being neglected but you just do what you do and that’s just it and as long as you’ve tried and worked hard, generally you don’t have to have any regrets because you know you’ve done your best. I also feel like this other thing, you just have to get really organised after you have a kid because it’s like all of a sudden it is like day and night – I feel like my pre baby life and my post baby life have been completely different. I feel like I’m lucky that I had all those times to relax and sit around while we were writing albums and be like, “You know what, today just doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen. I think today I’ve just gotta, like, go fill my gas tank up and chill”. I’m glad I had those times because I’m not going to have those times, realistically, easily ever again. So I do feel, I am happy that I did take full advantage of my pre-human raising life. It was good.
K: Well as I said before, I’m loving your new album Dream Team; I can actually picture it being played live already. Do you guys write and record with the live show in mind?
P: No. Not really. There are bits and pieces that I’ll fantasise when we’re writing about how we’ll do it live, like the start of Holiday Home, I always felt like just that really long intro with the just the bass and the bass drum and I was always like, that is going to be fun in a set, like, just to bring the set down again but while it’s still really motivated it’s just really restrained. I always felt that’s a really cool part in the set too if I really need a drink of water or need to talk to the crowd or do something it’s fun because you’ve just got that ‘err err err err’ (does the instantly familiar sound of bass playing in the break of a set - surprisingly well) where it’s not just silence and there’s little things like that where you do have moments where you’re like, “This is going to be really fun live” or, “This is really going to add to the current set”. But when it comes to recording in the studio, for the most part, it’s always just like a ‘cross that bridge when we get to it’, sort of situation if you want to stick keyboards in. But realistically we’re not touring with keyboards this time, it’s a lot to take on the road and they’re not in every song so it kind of seems excessive to take keyboards. We know that there’s always that possibility (of not having the keyboards for a live set) when we’re putting keyboards and crap on songs that we’re like, “We’re going to have to figure out how to give this song justice live!” because it is probably going to have these keys on it but we’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it because right now, in this moment, for the recorded version, these keys sound great. And they are two different things at the end of the day. I’m of the mindset that it’s a recording and you’ve got to give justice to that medium and then you’ve got to give justice to the live medium as well and they are just two totally different things.One’s like this weirdly non-physical, physical product and the other one’s like this weirdly non physical but physically emotional thing/experience. So yeah I think they’re so separate in my head that it doesn’t ever clash.
K: You’ve actually just answered a question that I’ve wondered about artists for years. That’s interesting so thanks for that.
The video for your new single Call Me is an interesting one, I mean you on that red velvet chair with the roses, wine and cheese is pretty much the dream of my friend Riley and I’d say most guys everywhere, can you explain what is happening there?
P: (Laughs) That was actually a really fun film clip to film. It was actually filmed by a 16 year old, which was really rad. She was just doing dishwashing on the weekends at our shop and she quit school and she was like, “You know what? School sucks” and John and I have always had the mindset that we’re like, “Yeah, school sucks!” She was going to this special artist school and we were like, “What did you do there?” and she was like, “I was doing film” and we were like, “Hey, you know what, we need a clip. You don’t have any projects to do anymore, how about you come and do this project for us?” She was great, we just gave her complete creative control and she said, “I just want to have a really romantic but like, low budget clip.” We were like, “Whatever you want, that’s cool.” She found this love heart couch on Gumtree for 120 bucks and we were like, “Great, get it!” and then it was fun because we have this band room under our house and we just moved it to the band room and then she came over and brought all of this red satin material that she just got at the material shop and flowers and then that huuuuge champagne glass. The baby goes to sleep at about 7 o’clock every night, so she came over at 7 and we just went under the house for an hour and a half and filmed it, it was so easy and fun. She’s also vegetarian and has never eaten blue cheese so she was very happy for us to take all of the cheeses at the end of the night and I was really enjoying that as my post film-clip treat. I was like, “Aaah cheese party! Upstairs!” ‘Cause I’m breastfeeding so I can’t drink and you can’t have soft cheeses when you’re pregnant so um… I’m thrilled! It was also my fantasy come to life too!
K: You guys are playing Splendour again this year, you’re no stranger to the Splendour stage but I wanted to ask about the Bob Dylan tribute you took part in a few years back. I believe we missed the Smashing Pumpkins to check it out and I must say it ended up being a highlight of the festival for my friends and I. What was that like to perform and how did it come about?
P: It was amazing! It was really fun!! It actually came about I think because of Josh Pyke. I think it was basically just going to be him and Kav Temperley and then Josh was like, “Let’s just build a set around it, let’s get paid a little bit less money, but take more people on the road and just make it a bigger deal”. He felt that it seemed a little bit similar to ‘The White Album’ Beatles Concerts he had done with Phil Jamieson (along with Tim Rogers and Chris Cheney) but then there’s that, oh that bullshit, ‘errr women can’t sing Beatles songs’ which don’t even get me started on. I love how it’s like they can just make it sexist by pretending it’s superstitious it just blows my mind. So he was like, “Let’s get chicks involved!” finally. So that was really fun and I was very excited to do it. And I love brushing up on all of the Bob Dylan lyrics and it is so fun now for me, sort of just knowing like 80% of the lyrics to Bob Dylan songs. I kill it. So when I hear a Bob Dylan song, I can’t help but sing along with every single word and feel like a total boss. Afterwards I’m like, “Did ya hear that? Yeah I know every lyric, I got it!”
He’s very lyric heavy. I almost feel like you’ll win a full trophy if you can sing a Bob Dylan song and get every lyric. It’s like yeah, you get the award. It was just really, really fun and I think about that all the time as well.
K: Well it was definitely a highlight, I must say for my friends and I. Also I’m looking forward to seeing your Peter Alexander tour jackets – will they make an appearance at Splendour?
P: Yes! Absolutely! The most outrageous of them will make an appearance at Splendour. That’s gonna be the one. It’s really fun. I have been wanting to do it for ages and then I was just really cheeky and I was like, “Man I don’t want to go and buy these fur jackets and then I was like Peter Alexander is an Australian label so I was like, surely I could just email them and ask really nicely if they’ll do it, considering it’s Splendour In The Grass. And then that was really rad, they were just like, “Oh yeah, ok, well if you’re gonna do it for big shows, ok we’ll give you some jackets and you can put whatever crap on them just tag us on Instagram”. I thought that was a fair trade, it’s like a weird position though when you’re in a band because you want to maintain credibility and all of that, but realistically at the end of the day I don’t want to be one of those people that is like, “Hey can you give me something for free?” but because it’s slightly uncool to admit that you had something given to you, I’m just never gonna say thanks. I was like, you know, just be honest and thankful. And I was pumped. And they are sick coats! I'm sad that I'm probably going to, I don’t know, cover them. I have covered them in so much memorabilia it’s out of control. Pom poms from our wedding that fans sent in that I still have left over from making an actual pom-pom jacket with my mate years ago. Just things from all around the house like there’s this plastic dinosaur that we found on the ground in LA years ago and I’ve just been carrying it around and moving it house to house and finally I was like, I think you’ve got a place on this jacket now. Sometimes I feel a little bit sad as I glue things on because I'm like there you are, you’re gone; like flowers that my neighbour crocheted before she went into a nursing home which I’ve kept, but then her son brought around heaps of these flowers that he found and didn’t know what to do with & I was like, “Put it on the jacket!” My mate’s grandmother made all of these circle things out of material that I cant even describe but they’re some craft thing – “Put it on the Jacket!” It’s weirdly intimate, and amazing.
K: Well they look awesome so far (laughs).
P: They. Are. Fucking. Cool.
K: Hey I also follow you on Twitter & I’m curious, did you end up getting back at your spite filled neighbour who hates you enough to drag your garbage bin in at night and then re-kerb it in the morning, ensuring that you miss the collection?
P: Nup! I haven’t got them back! I don’t want to engage. I just can’t believe it! This is what makes me feel weird, every time someone says something in their life, like someone is doing something mean to them, I always have that thing where I’m like, “There’s always two sides to every story, I’m sure you’re doing something that pisses them off”. And then when it happened to me I was like, “I’m a good person! I don’t understand!” I’m not engaging anymore because I almost feel like, the only way that I can justify it in my head, is I’m like, they’ve got a mental problem. Like you have to have a mental problem. I don’t think I’m a bad person. I'm one of the good guys! I can’t understand it! But it blows my mind. It still blows my mind. I am too scared. I am like really scared about sticking the rubbish out at the moment. I’ve got other systems where I’m getting rid of rubbish but it’s made me feel like if I put the rubbish out, I’m going to have to pay close attention to it to make sure it’s actually getting emptied! There was like 3 weeks where it wasn’t getting emptied. And then finally we caught them in the act! And it was really awkward because then they were like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” even though we were standing there all like, you just came and pulled our rubbish out from around the corner and they’re like, “Nup! Don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t talk to me.” So it’s this weird position! I’m like, what do you do? And this is what makes this even juicier: we got dobbed into the council for having our bin out on the kerb for too long. Then we were talking to the council like, “Our bin is getting stolen and put behind a corner so it can’t get emptied and it’s been really confusing for us!”
And the lady from the council was like, “That’s got nothing to do with me, if your bin is getting tampered with, that isn’t my problem but I need to make sure that it’s not staying out for longer than two days”. I was like; I can’t believe that I’m getting in trouble again! That’s just like, one of those things.
K: Yeah, crazy!
P: Crazy times, but you know, maybe, almost, if someone is giving you heaps of grief, perhaps that’s the mode of revenge that you’d like to take, because I can tell you now that it works a treat. Being the recipient of it. I’m done.
K: I’ll keep that in mind! That’s hilarious!
I think we’ve gone over the allocated time.
P: Yeah that’s awesome! Well thank you so much & hopefully we see you at one of the shows!
K: Yeah definitely, I’ll try and make the Oxford Art Factory one as well.
P: Yeah just tell them to send you along; tell the publicist.
K: (laughs) Yeah come on guys!
P: Alright, thanks Kate, see you soon!
K: Thanks Patience.