Recently I had the opportunity to interview Patrick Walker of 40 Watt Sun. Due to circumstances beyond my control (Central London on a Friday night is a busy place), the interview ended up taking place across the road from a pub. Underneath a garage roof. Don't ask. What you read here is a little dysfunctional (a beer or two might have been involved), but don't let that put you off. Patrick Walker is a terribly private man, who isn't much a fan of talking about himself, yet he was most accommodating of my questions and answered everything he possibly could. For which I am extremely grateful.
40 Watt Sun released The Inside Room on Cyclone Empire earlier this year.
SPB: People will obviously know you as a part of Warning, was there any reason that the group disbanded ?
Patrick Walker: Yes.
SPB: Yes? Do you want to talk about it ?
Patrick: No. I'll tell you why. Because I've spoken about it in every interview I've done.
SPB: Hahaha. That's fine.
Patrick: Your readers can do their homework.
SPB: I can not talk about it ?
Patrick: You can talk about it, put it in there. Let me think about it.
(Some things happened involving an Audi.)
SPB:So, there was a reason, but you don't want to talk about it ?
Patrick: It's not....when you've been in a band since you were sixteen years old...and you're now thirty two years old. No, I'm thirty three
SPB: Are you sure ?
Patrick: Yes, I'm thirty three, and you grow beyond things. I mean, come on, Warning's a good name for a band when you're sixteen and you're copying Count Raven riffs...
SPB: Did you do that a lot ?
Patrick: Oh yes, I copied everything when we first started.
SPB: I guess when you're young, and you're not sure who you are, you just have to pick up on things that you like?
Patrick: I mean, of course there are exceptions to the rule....but when you're...
SPB: Who know's who they are at sixteen ?!
Patrick: I don't know who I was five years ago; when I look at five years ago, I feel like I'm somebody else. Another five years from now I'll look back at this interview and think "Oh god, why were you sitting outside a pub under a garage roof doing this shit?" I'm starting to think that now actually. The bottom line is, I don't want to be in the same band I was in then. The name Warning has nothing to do with the music I'm writing now.
(Some more cars use the garage).
SPB:How did 40 Watt Sun come about, and did you intend to start something so soon after Warning split up? It didn't seem like there was that much time ?
Patrick: No, there was no gap.
(A man asks for directions, no one knows where the place is - we talk about Resident Evil 4 for some reason and the question never gets answered).
SPB: The songs seem quite personal; do you write from experience or is it just, you decide to write a song and that's what you're writing about ?
Patrick: What do you mean by that? Are you asking if it's real life or not, if I make it up?
SPB: Well, is what you talk about something you know - things that have happened to you, to people you know ? Things from a long time ago ?
Patrick: ...I just write about things I think about.
SPB: Do you have any major influences ? At the last show you played you did a cover of a Codeine song, are they an influence ?
Patrick: Do you like Codeine?
SPB: I haven't heard a lot of them, but I listened to Frigid Stars a bit, and then after the show I went back and revisited them. It's a really good album.
Patrick: Yes, it is. There's an unbridged gap between a lot of music. I think that a lot of people tend to think that...they find in certain bands qualities that they don't find in other music. And it's there, but they don't look for it.
SPB: I agree with that, I know a lot of people who will only listen to one style of music.
Patrick: Yeah, but it's a style that they invent. They don't step outside their invented boundaries. There's not really an awful lot of difference between listening to, I don't know, say Saint Vitus, and listening to...Waylon Jennings or something.
SPB: Who ? (Disclaimer - I know who Waylon Jennings is, the crowd across the street drowned out the end of the sentence).
Patrick: It doesn't matter. I'm just giving an example.
(Another car goes into the garage - model not identified).
SPB: You were saying that Codeine were a bridge to other types of music - they're kind of lo fi...
Patrick: I don't know what the hell that is. I've heard that thrown around - lo fi, slowcore, sadcore, post rock. All these fucking terms thrown around. It's just nonsense, it's all music. It's Western Popular Music at the end of the day, isn't it? There's no point in getting hung up on things. There's no difference between that [Codeine] and anything else that people are gonna hear. It's sub-genres within sub-genres.
SPB: Not a fan of labels ?
SPB: Obviously you guys get classed as doom...
Patrick: Yes, but that's because I was in Warning. You can't escape it can you?
SPB: No. I guess if you were in a band, and they were fairly well known within that circle...then you start another band - all people are gonna do is compare you to what came before. I don't think people are ever not gonna do that. It must be quite annoying as an artist, because you've left that part of your life behind and started something new. And it's different. I don't think that's a question, just a general statement !
Patrick: That's fine, put it in there.
(Discussion about the time).
SPB: You've been playing a few shows recently, as a band and as solo artist, do you prefer one over the other ?
Patrick: Hahahaha. I like both. I like playing on my own because....last week I would have said I like playing on my own because I come off stage...it's an easier concert and I'm not all sweaty and hoarse. I prefer playing as a band because...I can't say it.
SPB: Do you not want me to ask the question ?
Patrick: No...I just...I lack... If I was being honest, I would say I like hiding behind a band. I can't answer it. It's a good question, but I can't answer it. I like playing with everything turned up too though, you know?
SPB: How has the crowd reaction been, to both set ups ? I've seen you play a very small acoustic solo show, and as 40 Watt Sun...
Patrick: That solo show was the first time I've done 40 Watt Sun stuff on my own.
SPB: Oh really ? In the UK?
Patrick: No, anywhere.
SPB: What was the cover you did at that show ?
Patrick: Red House Painters.
SPB: Oh cool, I've got a friend who really likes Red House Painters, he's always telling me to listen to them.
Patrick: Well you should listen to them.
SPB: I keep meaning to investigate them properly.... What's the future for the band ? I read you were recording an EP/new material ?
Patrick: We were recording an EP, but it hadn't turned out how I wanted it to... So we threw it away and started again.
(End of interview).
After I spent some time transcribing the interview, I received an invitation from Patrick to send him some follow up questions. So here they are !
SPB: You said the EP didn't turn out how you wanted, why was that ? Have you gone back to try again?
Patrick: Oh, I can't go in to it all now. Some of it we found didn't realize what we set out to achieve... so we put it aside and yes, we're going back to... not so much try again as to keep working at it. We've been using a home studio for these recordings.
SPB: Recently you announced an American tour, is that something you're looking forward to ? How did it come about ?
Patrick: A US tour promoter got in touch and asked me if we'd consider going to the US. I replied of course, if someone put up the money. So he did. Metal Blade just licensed our album over there so they've gotten behind the tour in a big way too. I guess it'll be an experience.
SPB: I've seen a lot of people calling for Warning tracks, both at shows I've personally attended and also for upcoming gigs; in the past you've played some Warning songs in a live environment with 40 Watt Sun (I think?), but not recently. Is that a conscious decision on your part or is there just no place for those songs now ? I guess I might have just answered that myself, haha.
Patrick: Well firstly I don't believe that material sits well alongside the songs I've written for 40 Watt Sun. But mainly I guess I just don't feel a need to play most of those songs any more. To be fair, it's generally Footprints that people are calling for, and sure we've played it from time to time; it's a good song... But I feel a little strange about the fact that that song's become almost "anthemic" if that's the correct word. Something there doesn't sit quite comfortably with me...
SPB: Many thanks Patrick !
Catch 40 Watt Sun on their Stateside tour in September, live, they are are force to be reckoned with.