Dan Patlansky Interview
Words and live photos: Anthony Firmin
Portrait exclusive to Manchester Rocks
Back in the autumn Dan Patlansky toured with Joanne Shaw Taylor on her first tour of larger venues here in the UK and we managed to catch a few moments with the South African guitar maestro before his performance, a meeting that didn’t nearly happen due to a sound-check overrunning requiring extra PA needing to be brought in.
Patlansky is fairly relaxed even though he has only just returned to the dressing room. The rest of his band have their headphones on, getting in the zone before the curtain call. I place my phone on the table and it immediately becomes a conversation piece due to the almost indestructible case that protects it.
Although living in Pretoria, South Africa, Dan Patlansky is a regular visitor to Europe, his backing band here is all European and his love for performing here is heart warming.
With such a short tour, this one is about two weeks, things have settled down nicely as he explains “we have only done two shows, Cambridge and Gateshead, and so far it has gone fantastic, the Corn Exchange is an incredible venue, absolutely beautiful. I love playing venues like this, in fact when I toured with Joe Satriani a couple of years ago we played similar places and I just loved it.
The South African guitar slinger is set to the release his new studio album on Friday 2nd February 2018. Entitled Perfection Kills the album is the follow up to 2016’s widely acclaimed Introvertigo “the biggest difference between this album and the previous two is that I have produced the album myself. I used to produce albums when I was much younger and more into the traditional blues scene” he explains.
“I previously worked with Theo Crous and I learned so much from him, he was like a mentor on the production side of things but I had a particular kind of sound that I wanted to achieve with this album that we didn’t get previously. Maybe the last couple of albums were a little too polished, and that’s where the title comes in, Perfection Kills! If you try to make any art form perfect you end up killing it. Anyway, there is no such thing as perfection. What is perfection in art? It doesn’t exist, it is futile. I wanted more of a raw edge on the album, have more magic left inside, something that was missing from the last album, lost due to too much over production.”
Having watched Dan at the Deaf Institute earlier in 2017, one of the things that struck me was the visual element to his show, especially when he digs the guitar into his belt, faces the neck and gently taps away “for me it really is very much a visual thing, and in todays world going to watch shows is about the music but you are going to watch a show and not just listen to it so there have to be those visual elements and it is a lot to do with the energy and the vibe.”
The vibe was quite incredible, it was so quiet at some points you could hear a pin drop “that’s amazing to hear, I am so glad it comes out so well out front.”
I ask Dan about the music scene down in South Africa “it’s an emerging market but it’s got a long way to go. You know how niche blues and blues rock is here, then you can imagine how niche it is back home, but I have a fair following down there and I have had that for a couple of years now. It is a big country but a small place, there is a lot of nothing between the big cities so you kind of limited in a way as to where you can play and tour so it is tough in that sense which is why we have been trying to build up the profile over in the UK and the rest of Europe.”
This then begs the question of how did he get into blues music? “My parents listen to the blues a lot but also rock’n’roll and jazz, quite a broad spectrum. I wasn’t into the blues scene when I started, it was more rock, I got into Pink Floyd first and loved David Gilmour’s guitar playing so much. And although he was not a blues guy there were quite a few licks that were bluesy and I liked them, and I got into Clapton from there, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hendrix, Zeppelin and Deep Purple and all that sort of stuff. I still love Pink Floyd though – they are my favourite band.”
We start talking about the inspiration for his work both musically and lyrically “musically, other artists I am inspired by. I am a blues rocker but I will try to add a Floyd-esque chord or vibe that they had in one of their songs and get it into a blues rock piece and that helps move it into a very unique direction because Floyd were not a blues band, so I like to mix stuff together and try and make sense of it. I like to capture a feel and bring it across into my music. The music usually comes first but lyrically I like to keep it real, not singing about picking cotton or whiskey and women, and that’s fine for the guys who do sing about that. For me it’s about my life so touring, kids, my wife, social commentary, keeping it real.”
To link in with the release of the new album, Dan Patlansky will embark on a UK tour in March 2018 with special guest Mollie Marriott, “it’s a long time to wait having songs in the bag and I can’t wait to play them” and we can’t wait to hear them either.
The tour starts in Manchester at The Deaf Institute on Thursday 15th March and continues with dates in Newcastle (Mar 16), Leek (Mar 17), Bristol (Mar 18), Sheffield (Mar 20) and London (Mar 21). It won’t be long before Dan Patlansky is playing much larger venues, catch him while you can!