Interview

The Grates

The Grates

Tuesday 23rd August, 2011 9:23AM

The Grates have just released their third full length album - and their first as a two piece - Secret Rituals. They also recently came to New Zealand and played two sold out shows at The Powerstation in support of Modest Mouse. We caught up with Patience Hodgson and John Patterson to discuss losing a member, touring with one of the bigger bands in the world and coming from Brisbane.

Hey guys, how's it going?

We're really really good, weíre chowing down on New Zealand flat whites.

You've got flat whites in Australia though right?

Yeah we do but New Zealand is the home of them so weíre embracing them. You invented them here so we feel they're special.

How's the tour with Modest Mouse going?

The venue Ė Powerstation Ė is a brilliant venue and getting the opportunity to play with Modest Mouse is amazing.

Have you been learning from them while on tour with them?

We havenít actually met them but itís been pretty great watching Isaac play guitar and watching how the rest of them play their instruments. I know the parts and everything but seeing them playing is pretty cool.

It must be exciting to tour their new album too, right?

It feels good to be able to give them this new life. Itís like a totally different energy when you play the songs live as opposed to when they're in the studio.

Tell me a little bit about the writing and recording process of the latest album.

We started writing the album in our home town of Brisbane but we werenít really doing much that we were happy with. We relocated to New York for about a year and nine months to write and record the album over there and do a little bit or touring. When we first left we didnít have any recording prospects or anything we were just taking it in six month chunks. We were only meant to go over there for six months and we just kept extending our stay.

So you wrote and recorded the whole album in New York?

Yeah we hired a band room that weíd go round to. For the first six months we didnít come up with much in New York either. We went back home to Australia for three weeks and had this holiday and that really re-set us and got us in the right mindset to start properly working on the album. We got back to New York and there was a ginormous blizzard. On the first day we went into the band room and while there was a lot of snow already we decided to go in there anyway, and when we got in there it was a total white out. We couldnít leave Ė we were trapped in there by this blizzard that was going on outside, that was blowing our minds as well as people from Brisbane who had never really seen snow. Itís not very often that weather gets in the way of anyone doing anything in Brisbane, I mean we did have the floods but that only happens once every 27 years. We were just shocked that this city that we thought never sleeps is still at the mercy of Mother Nature.

We were in the band room and it was that first week that we came back from the Australia that we came up with half of the album. In those first few days we wrote ĎTurn Me Oní as well. Lyrically for me that came from the fact that I thought New York was going to be inspiring; that the second I got to New York I would be flooded with inspiration and would have all these things to write about and I got over there and nothing really happened for six months so 'Turn Me On' was just kind of a plea with wanting to be stimulated and wanting to be turned on enough to write an album that I was happy with, which was pretty hard work in the end.

If you had to describe the other themes or inspirations that are on the album what would you say?

Itís probably our most honest record to date. I think a lot of it is weirdly like a coming-to-grips album if you can understand. In a really subtle way itís an album which is talking about being dislocated and in a different place and trying to understand who you are. I think for a lot of people who they are does come from where they are and what people are around them. And going over to New York we got rid of a whole bunch of stuff; we went over there with a suitcase of clothing, no friends or family. I think the whole album is being who you are when you really are just by yourself and completely alone.

I guess that makes sense as well, because you guys have changed line-up since the last record?

Yeah our drummer left the band when we were in New York.

So you went over to New York as a three piece and then decided to become a two-piece right?

Yeah I think it was an opportunity to do actually what they want to do. Thatís the most important thing in life - youíve just got to be doing what you want to do otherwise youíre not actually living life to the fullest. Whatever that may be, whether that is working a 9-to-5 job where you come home to your family and thatís how you get the most out of your life and you work a job during the day that you can forget about because the time you have with your family can really mean something to you, or whether you work a job that is your life in a way, which is like being in a band. I think it was just over there sheíd sort of realized that being in the band wasnít making her happy. In her realizing that made us realize that us being in a band is what makes ourselves the happiest, so everybody won, it was hard but everyone is doing what makes them happiest.

And your sound has definitely changed from the last album until now. Was that purposeful?

It was pretty purposeful. I think we really wanted to do something new and also do something that was honest.

Where does your sonic inspiration come from?

My favourite band is the Breeders, Iím a massive Kim Deal fan. Iíve been listening to a lot of Breeders with Jon, and Jon in return was introducing me to a lot of his favourite artists which are Sparklehorse and Butthole Surfers and old Weezer demos. Then of course Modest Mouse as well. We were trying to take things from all the bands that we loved and building on a legacy rather than trying to do something that was not original. We wanted to create music that we wanted to listen to when were at home.




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