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Patrick Watson: On his new album and playing with Andrew Bird

article by John Powell

“I have all these memories of going to Vermont as a kid, but never played there,” Patrick Watson offers, checking in from Montreal, where he calls home. The songwriter recently released Adventures in Your Own Backyard, an album he recorded in his home. He said that while he’s finished albums under deadline before, he’s happy that with this one it came together over time, “to make sure we had the 12 right songs.”

Patrick Watson

The album’s arrangements are grand and flourishing, and it’s clear Patrick enjoys the recording process, even though “You have to tour!” he laughs, talking about riding in a van across the States with the seven others that travel with him, including five musicians, managers, and techs. “The longer you’re in a van,” he jokes, “the maturity and intellectual levels go down. It’s like a van of eight-year-olds.”

Going on tour with Andrew Bird befits the Montreal musician. Their sweeping songs sound similar in many ways, and of Andrew Patrick says, “He’s a sound master.” He met Andrew in Australia, playing ultimate Frisbee together, and they hit it off. The two touring together comes naturally, and Patrick believes that when two acts get along “it makes for a nice evening, watching each other from the sidelines.”

While Patrick's music is often slow and building from components into grandiose arrangements, he’s a fast-talking, quick thinker that raves about Montreal. “We’re very spoiled,” he says of his city. He recalls a few years ago when Montreal’s bands were hitting it big, from Godspeed You Black Emperor to Arcade Fire. They used to have these improvised parties. Patrick laughs. “At one point, no one was around because they all went on tour at the same time.” And since, Montreal has made quite a musical niche in the alternative world.

When asked about his favorite places to play, Patrick replies, “Iceland, for sure. I fell in love.” He also notes Portugal, Holland, and Nashville as great places to play. “It’s funny when you play a city more than once, you get to know it.”

Patrick Watson

Again, Patrick returns to Vermont, where he used to come shopping often with his family as a kid. Born in California, his dad was in the Air Force, so they moved and lived on a base. He has great memories of Vermont, and despite having traveled all over the world, he’s excited to head south two hours and play with Andrew in the Green Mountain State.

His beautiful arrangements and delicate voice make Patrick fit in with the movement of beautiful, large sound bands, but Patrick is quite down to Earth, genuine, and fun-loving, and it’s clear he’s grateful to be able to make music. His show is not to be missed.


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