Picture credit: Bakkes Images
Dan Patlansky calls them the blues police. Men of a certain age who consider only traditional blues the real deal.
“As soon as you start changing your style to something with a slightly more modern edge, those guys just don’t believe in it,” explains the singer and guitarist. “All my music comes from the blues but it’s got a lot of other influences in there – be it classic rock, funk, soul, or jazz – because for me the most important thing is to follow your gut. Then the music is most honest, and as soon as the music’s honest and you’re passionate about that music, you’ve got the best chance at some sort of success with it.”
Success is exactly what he’s achieved with ‘Introvertigo’. Patlansky’s seventh album, and first since breaking into the UK with ‘Dear Silence Thieves’ last year, is his best yet. And not just because the songs, again produced by Theo Crous, are so musically accomplished, capturing the light and shade dynamics of his live performances; they’re also his most personal.
“In the old days I was a more traditional kind of blues guy and I wrote those traditional clichéd blues lyrics which meant absolutely nothing in my life because I didn’t grow up on cotton plantations and playing juke joints in Mississippi,” the South African chuckles.
“It didn’t feel real to me. So on the last couple of albums, which are modern blues albums, I’ve written about modern things – either social commentary on issues that I believe in or disagree with, or personal life happenings.”
So there are songs about mob mentality (the menacing ‘Run’), organised religion (punchy ‘Sonova Faith’), our changing world (the rose-tinted ‘Western Decay’), and homelessness (gritty ‘Heartbeat’). And there are reflections on balancing marriage with a life on the road (the tender ‘Still Wanna Be Your Man’), overcoming lifelong insecurities (hopeful ‘Loosen Up The Grip’), beating self-doubt (future classic ‘Bet On Me’), and even his daughter (the take-no-prisoners ‘Queen Puree’).
“She really is a take-no-prisoners kid,” he laughs. “She is as arrogant as all hell and she’s brash and in your face, but I suppose most two year olds are like that. And I guess because she’s my first child, I’m not used to a child dominating your life and who you are as a human being.”
Who we are as human beings is clearly something that’s been on Patlansky’s mind. It’s all over the album, from the title (the discomfort felt by an introvert after spending time with an extrovert) to the cover art.
“The fire on the guy’s back symbolises the self-destructive thread we all have,” he explains. “And him sticking his head in the sand symbolises the introvert side, and an ostrich mentality to get away from society,” elaborates the self-confessed introvert.
“An introvert isn’t necessarily somebody who never leaves his house or never sees the sunlight,” he continues. “An introvert draws energy from being by himself, whereas an extrovert draws energy from being around people.
“I certainly draw the most energy being alone but I think being on stage and playing is a very different experience. You’re interacting with the audience, but you’re expressing yourself through your music, so I don’t find that I feel drained, in that sense, after a show or even doing meet and greets.”
Upcoming meet and greets are bound to be busy, following his crowd-winning performances on Joe Satriani’s recent European tour.
“It was one of those big milestone moments for me. You get a guitar-loving audience into those shows, so you’re broadening your audience so much more,” he explains. “I really gained the most incredible mileage out of that tour.”
And that includes the time he got to spend with Satriani himself, including watching the guitar legend perform at all 26 shows.
“You can’t be a guitar player and ignore Joe Satriani – I grew up listening to him and it was just a real honour to be there. I picked up a lot playing wise, and from how he performs. That was inspirational.
“And he genuinely was the nicest guy I’ve ever met – so down to earth, so humble. I literally hung out with him every night for a small amount of time, and we warmed up together on some nights, which was a huge honour. We chatted tons about guitar playing and guitars and amps, so he was a really inspirational guy on so many different levels.”
Just don’t tell the blues police. They probably wouldn’t approve.
Dan Patlansky as special guest on King King UK tour
(all tickets at www.thegigcartel.com)
12 May: Academy, Manchester
13 May: Sage, Gateshead
14 May: O2 ABC, Glasgow
15 May: City Hall, Sheffield
18 May: Guildhall, Gloucester
19 May: Hawth, Crowley
20 May: City Hall, Salisbury
21 May: Town Hall, Birmingham
Dan Patlansky headline concerts
22 May: Mr Kyps, Poole
6 June: Ropetackle, Shoreham
7 June: Globe, Cardiff
9 June: Jazz Cafe, London
10 June: Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek
11 June: Real Time Live, Chesterfield
12 June: Live Rooms, Chester