Yesterday afternoon, I had the chance to talk to the legendary singer/songwriter Patrick Park. Just fresh from releasing his newest record, Come What Will (Badman), and in between a few show dates, Park, residing in his California home, was nice enough to answer some questions that have been in my mind for a few years. Since his release of Loneliness Knows My Name (Hollywood), I’ve been intrigued by his amazing voice and even more brilliant songs.
Modern Mystery: What inspires you to write a song? What do you love the most about the songwriting process?
Patrick Park: What inspires me changes you know? But I guess a lot of my songs end up being just about, kind of, basically, a lot about diversity that everyone is kind of facing as a part of life. Just getting through that and dealing with that. I guess about writing songs, I don’t know, it’s just something I’m always doing. I love it all. The best part of the process is when I’m finished with the song. There are the songs that are around for months and it takes me a while to finish and there are other songs that happen really fast. I tend to like those better. The ones that take longer, lead the most.
MM: You just released your new record, Come What Will (Badman). How do you think it differs from your previous records?
Park: It differs in tone a bit, to me. It sounds a lot more organic and natural. The songs were recorded when they were much fresher on this record. A lot of times you end up recording songs and some time after you have them done, it’s years or something. Any time you have it away from that initial genesis. So for this record the songs are brand new. The songs that were recorded were in some cases written the same day.
MM: You have worked with Dave Trumfio as a producer on a few of your records, as well as the new one. What kind of artist-producer relationship do you have. How well do you work with each other?
Park: We’ve worked together a lot over the years and he’s become a really good friend. He never feels the need to exploit himself as the producer. It’s just a good partnership. On this record there is definetly times where he was like “here’s the keys to the studio, I’m going away for a week.” Which is great because I’m used to recording things at home at my own. It’s nice to have that trust and mutual respect. Some people butt heads and insert themselves in the project different ways but it’s not about that.
MM:What made you decide to release the new record on Badman Recordings, the label that released the Under the Undermining Skies EP in 2003?
Park: That was such a positive experience working with Dylan from Badman. He’s a great guy and someone easy to work with. I wanted to work with him again and this record was the perfect opportunity. He’s a genuine guy and easy to work with.
MM:You grew up in Colorado. How did you get interested in music? Was there a music scene there growing up?
Park: In a little town called Morrison, an hour West of Denver. We had foothills, but they’re called mountains everywhere else. We spent a lot of time outside. We weren’t allowed in the house until after dark in the summer. The scene has gotten a lot better since I left. When I was growing up there was definetly a scene but it wasn’t super cohesive, and there wasn’t a ton of places to play. There was a lot of warehouse sort of shows and stuff like that. Since I left it’s really blown up. There’s some really great places for music. I missed all of that. I was always interested in music. My dad played growing up, and being able to pick up a guitar and bang away, I started to learn and figure stuff out when I was at 7. I was immediately attracted to it. I was also listening to music constantly and absorbing what I could. As long as I could think back it’s where I wanted to be. It’s always been an obsession.
MM: How long did it take you to write and record the new record?
Park: You know, I don’t really know. I kind of recorded it off and on. I would write a song, and record it, and write a song and then record it. I tend to work quickly in the studio and stay there all times of the day and night and record. Things usually come together in a day or two for each song. It took about 2 or 3 weeks for recording in different chunks.
MM: You have a very unique, very beautiful voice. Is singing something that has always come natural to you?
Park: I think that it’s something I’ve gotten better at throughout the years. Growing up and playing in band I usually played guitars. At 14 or 15 I started singing. I found that I could sing but I had to figure out what my voice really is and how to use it just like any instrument. It takes a while to tweak it a little bit. It was a trial and error sort of thing. I’m no screamer. Singing in a punk rock band wouldn’t happen too often.
MM: What is your favorite part about being on tour?
Park: Touring for me…I’ve done a lot of touring by myself. Which is really great and really hard. When you’re by yourself for 6 weeks you start to get a little stir crazy. It’s weird. I start to feel like I’ve been gone long enough when relationships back home become miscommunications all of a sudden. On the upside, it’s sort of like a retreat in a weird sort of way because I’m by myself. Seeing how my own mind works when I’m just left to my own devices completely. You get to see how your mind works. You meet a lot of amazing people, and hear interesting stories and situations that arise. I like touring but it’s the weeks before the tour I have all this anxiety about it. Then I get on the road and everything’s fine. Then when I get back I get the same anxiety.
MM: What musicians inspired you to start playing music?
Park: I don’t know. It’s hard to pinpoint anyone. I grew up listening to a lot of old folk and blues stuff that my dad was listening to around the house. Mississippi John Hurt, Sonny Terry and Brownie Maggie, Mississippi Fred McDowell, stuff like that. Then punk rock and shoegazer things. It’s hard for me to pinpoint anything in particular, I was fascinated by all music and how one song can go so many different directions and so many different places. All the possibilities in that.
MM: What is your favorite track off the new album and why?
Park: I like them all for different reasons. I’m really happy with “The Lucky Ones,” but if you ask me tomorrow it will probably be different. I like how they came out lyrically and musically on the record.
MM: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing for a living?
Park: I don’t know! I would probably be a trapeze artist :laughs: I have no idea. Hopefully I’ll never have to figure that out in my life!