Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Myglobalmind: You have a new album about to come out on Frontiers Records
Pat”I have and its called”Can Do”I am very happy with this one.”
Myglobalmind: Frontiers is generally a label associated with a genre of melodic rock,why did you choose to go with them for this release?
Pat”Well I wasn’t all that familiar with their roster but I knew that they have signed some classic rock bands like Journey and a few other people. I was also aware of the fact that when they released an album that they did some promotion and support. That is something that is really hard to come by in the past few years.Unless you have a major record deal nobody really does anything and you are just on your own. They wanted to do an album with me and they asked if I could do an album reminiscent of the first four or five albums that I did in the UK and Florida in the late seventies-early eighties. I said yeah,but I really had no idea how I would do that. I just set about to write the best songs that I could and to record things the way I liked them.My co producer was Sean Shannon(another fine Italian!), his technique just worked out really well.I think we got an album that is a rock album, with that late seventies/early eighties sensibility.It also has a really modern sounding production to it. I have been getting some of the best reviews that I have ever had in my career on this album. That makes me very happy,and makes it easier to talk to people like yourself because they genuinely seem to enjoy the material.”
Myglobalmind: You played at the Reading Festival in the early eighties and also had a UK tour supporting Rainbow.Why do you think that success in the UK has always eluded you as an artist?I do feel that you deserved that .
Pat”I agree with you whole heartily,in 1980 we had the biggest selling album yet which was”Crash+Burn”,and we did tons of dates.We did a massive tour with Rainbow and it just seemed that the next leap up the ladder was right there.Everybody seemed to lose their minds all at the same time myself included.Things just went side ways.It was like smoke in a bottle,once it got out there was just no way to get it back in.So I missed a bunch of opportunities that would have furthered my career at the time.Now it seems that I am trying to pick up where I left off there.”
Myglobalmind: How was it musically when you were growing up in Canada, did it have a great music scene at that time?
Pat “When I first got to London?, I was so naive. My interests at the time were to make some cash and to meet people to hear me play where I was coming from.
Pat”When I played in Canada,I mostly just played in bar bands. We would play in the same club or venue maybe six nights a week,doing five sets a night.We played all kinds of music, whatever was popular on the radio at the time. Also playing stuff that we liked like Hendrix,Santana or whatever…and we had these long jams.We had a lot of time to kill, but I felt that it was weird playing other peoples music for a living. Ultimately I wanted to play my own music, so that’s why I left Canada in seventy five when I was 21 and moved to London,England.
Myglobalmind: The music scene in London must have been vibrant and very exciting at that particular time. What gigs did you attend back then?
Pat”Well i was so naive. My interests at the time were to make some connections and meet people and get people to hear me play. Where I was coming from you could just show up at one of these clubs and you could have a jam.The bands didn’t mind because they had so much time to kill that it was OK to bring somebody up that you possibly knew nothing about. When I got to London the venues were much smaller,and the bands only got to play for a little while. The fans were not interested in having some Canadian guy come up and play guitar with them. It was very strange,I would go to places like the Marquee,and the Red Lion in Fulham but the bands that played were not that great.I didn’t get to see any of my heroes, play live but got to meet a lot of them at the Speakeasy club in London.I didn’t really see anybody play that much. I did like Thin Lizzy a lot when I got to see them. The Jailbreak album had just come out, and they were smoking. I actually ended up talking to their managers,and meeting the guys.We were pretty friendly for a while,especially with Brian Robertson ,Scott Gorham and myself. We hung out quite a bit, I am a huge Lizzy fan.”
Myglobalmind: You then went on to work with several musical legends over your career,eg Pat Thrall,Nicko Mc Brain and Tommy Aldridge. Any funny or interesting stories from those experiences?
Pat”Yeah I actually just did some work with Nicko recently,back in February. He also lives in Florida,and was involved with a charity event.We played with our old bassist Maurice Cowling and we did a set together which was awesome. Nicko is always such a fun guy,we have nothing but fun when we play and work together.I haven’t seen Tommy Aldridge in four or five years now because we just don’t bump into each other.Pat Thrall is in Last Vegas, hes like a producer and studio engineer at the Palms Hotel studios.He has a pretty prestigious job there. I am actually going to see him next week, hopefully we will come up with a funny story at the time and I will have to get back to you.”
Myglobalmind: Pat your musical style has changed , seemingly in each decade. Seventies, eighties then you had a nineties blues period.Do you make a conscious effort to stay current and relevant, or just do your own thing irrespective and independent of musical trends.
Pat”What I think that it is. I’m categorized as classic rock. When i first started it was just rock,after a while trends changed and musical styles changed. I found it easier to be able to do blues stuff. To record this album that we have out now,the “Can Do”album which is kind of a throwback album in a way, it required some time. I spent about 8 months on it to get it right. The problem is that in the last 10-15 years that recording budgets have just become so small. You just don’t have any money to make an album. In the old days you only had to record 8 songs, now you have to do 12 or 13 and in a shorter period of time.Something has to suffer at some point. I felt that doing the blues stuff would be a better way to go because it didn’t require as much arrangement or production. On the “Can Do”record the label at Frontiers definitely wanted me to come up with a record that could have been released at the same time as some of my older albums. Like “Heat in the Street”,”Putting it straight or “Crash and Burn”I’m not sure how much that I kept that in mind when I was working on the album. I think it was just because I was able to work in a way that I hadn’t been able to do before. When I have the time to do things then this is the way that they come out.”
Myglobalmind: One thing that surprised me on the album was the Eurythmics cover version.Why did you come to choose that particular track?
Pat”I love it”
Myglobalmind: It’s a unique version, and definitely a surprise to listeners.
Pat”Well I was driving in the car and it came on the radio,it was the original version and I was singing along with it. I was surprised to find out that we sing in the same range. My vocal range is about the same as Annie Lennox. I had always loved that tune. A friend had made this beautiful nylon stringed classical guitar ,and I went into the studio one afternoon and put down some acoustic and bass guitar. Added some drum machine and had a quick pass of singing it once.I kind of forgot about it for a couple of weeks and I was looking for something else on a CD and that popped up. I listened and went”wow”this sounds good.My wife Monica is an amazing vocalist and she has sang on my records before. I knew that if she also sang on it that I would be really happy with it. I think that it sounds great!
Myglobalmind: Yes as I say it sounds fresh and a totally different version to the original.
Pat”At first I didn’t think that it was that much different from the original because as I said I heard the original on the radio and got the lyrics off the Internet.I just played it and didn’t really listen to it again.I thought that after I recorded it that it still sounded too much like the original.Then I heard the original again on the radio the other day, and you are right it doesn’t. Its a lot different(laughs)
Myglobalmind: Can you tell me who makes up the band that play on the “Can Do”record?
Pat”This is probably without a doubt the best band that I have ever had. We have been playing together now for quite some time. Kirk Mc Kinn my other guitar player has contributed so much to this album.He has played so much cool guitar. We have been playing together now for nine years. My drummer Sandy Gennaro has been with me for about three years. Though we played together in 81,and 83 and recorded a couple of albums together,and did a bunch of tours. We have known each other for a long time.Then my bassist Rodney O Quinn has been playing with me now for five years. The band have been around,and we are battle-hardened and blooded.I feel really confident with these guys,the energy is great and they just play the right stuff.”
Myglobalmind: Would you be able to single out a couple of tracks from the album, and give me a little guide to what you were feeling when you did them?
Pat”A lot of it the lyrics and even the music just came and popped into my head when I didn’t have an instrument or anything.I would just be walking around the house or doing whatever.There is a song called “Wanted”which is a sort of a ballady thing on there.I actually came up with most of the guitar chords, for the song as it just popped into my head. Then I went to the studio and recorded them. The next day I was listening to them back and for some reason the word”Wanted”just popped into my head. I started thinking about it and the image of an old heavyweight boxer past his prime entered my head. I started to think about that. I think if you start to look and listen to the song that it could be about anybody. That was how that track came about.”
Myglobalmind: There’s another track on the album”Dust&Bone”is that another cover version? I noticed a different writing credit on that one.
Pat”That song was sent to me by,a guy named John Lappin from Cleopatra Records. I do quite a bit of work for them. They sent me that song and I think that they wanted me to record it for something they were doing. I said no,I think this is a song like I would have written myself. I don’t know the people that wrote it or anything about it. I just got as a demo and thought it was a great song.”
Myglobalmind: Any songs in particular from”Can Do” that you are really looking forward to going out and playing in the live set?
Pat”As a matter of fact we have already been doing the title track and that one just rocks live. It is so exciting because we play some of my older material which has that same kind of big feel to it. The audience respond in a really great way even though they have probably never heard it. We have also been playing”Diamond Girl”which is my favorite”
Myglobalmind: Whats your touring schedule for the rest of the year,and does it include UK dates?
Pat”We have a UK tour but nothing in N.Ireland which disappoints me and I would really like to fix that. We are going to be in the UK the first couple of weeks in October for about fourteen shows.England and Wales, I don’t even think that we have any shows in Scotland.That really kind of sucks, but we are playing fourteen shows and maybe we will add some more. We do have a little time at the end and we could do that.”
Myglobalmind: Thanks so much for chatting to me this evening for Myglobalmind.
Webzine review for Pat Traver’s Band – Can Do