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LAist Interview: Patrick Park
Los Angeles’ favorite troubadour, "Patrick Park, is playing at Tangiers tonight with Charlie Wadhams and the Shivers, which will be undoubtedly a stellar show. With brutally intelligent lyrics about the nuances of love, loss, and starting over, Park’s songs force the listener to pay attention to the details of our lives instead of just muddling through. If the devil is in the details, Park’s music has no problems inviting him in and buying him a drink. For what is life, if not trying to understand the particulars of what just happened? Park was kind enough to talk to us and elaborate the particulars of his own story last week.
So what was it that made you pick up a guitar?
Patrick: I don't know. I’ve been playing the guitar ever since I've been able to pick them up. I started at seven or eight, I think. My dad played guitar and they were always around the house.
When did you pick up the harmonica?
Patrick: I just picked it up when I started playing shows alone. I just wanted something else besides the guitar, and it’s hard to add other instruments when it’s just you.
So drums were out?
Patrick: Yes, that would have been difficult.
Which is harder for you writing music or writing lyrics?
Patrick: Um, probably spend more time writing lyrics. It depends on the song really. Sometimes takes a lot of time and, you know, sometimes it takes no time at all. The music usually comes quite easily, though. The right words usually take much longer.
What is your writing process like? Do you have a special spot that you go to? Or a writing jacket?
Patrick: Yes, I have a smoking jacket that I like to write in. Oh, you know what would be better…a writing hat. I would like one of those.
Wouldn’t that get hot in LA?
Patrick: It could be one of those giant straw hats. A writing straw hat.
What made you move to LA?
Patrick: I moved here from Denver because the girl I was with moved here. I had never visualized myself living in Los Angeles. When I got here I had a real love/hate thing with the city. I mean, I fought against the notion for a really long time, but at this point I’ve been here so long LA is home.
Do you miss Colorado?
Patrick: I miss walking out the door and seeing nature. I mean people say that in LA there is nature all over. You’re an hour from the beach or the mountains or the desert, but in Los Angeles an hour is a lot.
Do you like recording or performing better?
Patrick: You know I like them both. I think probably I'm more apt to say I like recording and writing a little more than performing. It's more creative for me than performing. Other people get really inventive when they perform, but at least for me it's not a creative thing. Performing for me is just being as present as possible. I’m trying to relay the experience of what I was feeling when I was writing these songs to the audience. That’s not to say I don’t like it! I just think I may prefer recording more.
So what’s the story with this latest record?
Patrick: I’m about half way done with it. I’m really excited about it! But I’m probably not the best person to ask. You can’t really be objective about your own work. So much of what you do is based on other people’s perceptions anyway. That being said I think it’s the best record so far. Or at least it feels most correct. It feels the most natural.
Do you have any strange stories about promoters or club owners that have done you wrong?
Patrick: Not so much any more, but when I was growing up and playing in different bands we pretty much get hosed every time we played. But I think that’s true everywhere. It happens in Europe a lot as well with the huge packaged tours.
Take it Back is one of the best political songs I've heard in a while. What inspired that song?
Patrick: Well, I think right now there is a tendency for people to react to what’s happening politically one of two ways. Either they get really mad and get involved very heavily in politics or on the flipside of that coin are the people who just tune out. They go into their own little worlds and pretend that these things don't affect them. Which I think is nuts. I wrote this song because I am so frustrated with the media in this country. Nobody is very reliable. I mean, even the so-called alternative media’s information is not always that good.
Where did you write Something Pretty? It's a gorgeous song.
Patrick: I wrote that in the bathroom.
In the bathroom?
Patrick: Yeah, the apartment I was living in at the time had really thin walls and I thought that if I wrote songs in my bathroom no one would be able to hear me, which in retrospect probably wasn’t true.
What is a friend that "you need, but can't be trusted?"
Patrick: (laughs) I don't want to get too much into specifics. Basically, the person who wanted to be with me wanted me to be a certain way and I couldn't be that.
You’re songs were featured on the OC a lot. Does the specter of that show still follow you?
Patrick: Yeah well, it was cool to have your songs on a hit show in one respect. A lot of people who wouldn't have heard me otherwise got to hear my music and I’m really thankful for that opportunity. I've never actually seen the show. I haven't had a TV in ten years. So it’s strange to have people associate me with that show. But you know, I take it with a grain of salt. The show does not define my music and people who listen to it will know that.
Go see Patrick Park at Tangiers tonight! Show starts at 8:00pm.