Hi Patrick great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hello I am a writer living in South Wales. I write plays poetry and film scripts. I have hadd and left or lost 20 jobs before finally going full time writing in 1998. I have three beautiful sons Ethan, Evan and Elian who are my guiding lights. My work includes the plays Everything Must Go, Unprotected Sex and Before I Leave which I am currently adapting into a feature film.
My books include Fuse, Darkness is Where The Stars Are and just published by Rough Trade Books My Bright Shadow and spoken word albums Tongues for A Stammering Time, Commemoration, Amnesia and new work Renegade Psalms in collaboration with John Robb released in September on Louder Than War Records.
I am currently writer in residence with The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales and take words to neglected sections of the community. I live small. I think skies.
Music has always played an important part in my life and writing. I obsessively collect albums, still listen to my vinyl collection and create a playlist for every play I create. Music was always playing in our house as kids from Abba to Demis Rossous to Neil Diamond. It gives me happy thoughts to think of those summer evenings with Sweet Caroline blasting through the 6 ft long grampophone player in our living room! I play guitar badly but throw in a fuzz box and a flange pedal and no one knows the difference.
My favourite lyrics would be ;
“All that rugby puts hairs on your chest. What chance have you got against a tie and a crest.’
Eton Rifles The Jam
likes to believe
In the freedom of music
But glittering prizes
And endless compromises
Shatter the illusion
The Spirit of Radio Rush
This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to?
The Membranes ‘What Nature Gives Nature Takes Away”
Godspeed you Black Emperor “ Luciferian Towers”
Hole ‘ Live Through This’
We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?
1 A Farewell To Kings by Rush – bought from a friend in school when I was 15, as needed to find my band and wanted to fit in! It was £2.50 which was a lot then. Started my journey into heavier music and to follow the band themselves. Opening track A Farewell to Kings just burst through my speakers and I was lost and found. When I saw it was recorded in Rockfield in Wales I talked my Dad into driving out there to see if we could find the studio. We didn’t! I just wanted to be Alex Lifeson! The guitar sound, lyrics to Closer to The Heart, the epicness of Xanadu and the gatefold photo just connected with me somehow. I still listen to it now.
2 The Indigo Girls The Indigo Girls Certain albums have a strange quality that makes them timeless yet acutely of the moment. I first heard this when I lived in Chicago in 1989. I had left Wales to write the great American novel, was madly in love and spent days wandering the Windy City streets in search of Kerouacian inspiration. Didn’t last forever as such wonder never can but it was a beautifully exciting visceral time. My American wife (though no one knew we were married as we had tied the knot in secret so I could stay in the country ( sorry U.S Immigration) and we carve a life together) liked the Indigo Girls and this had just come out. So it reminds me of another life another place- happy in my neon loneliness, my little apartment by the train tracks, coffee shops, cats, minus 20 Winters, huge pizzas and slam poetry nights in downtown Chicago. I loved their acoustic sound and the lyrics were so personal and human.
Then, fast forward to 2017 and a complicated love affair which was destined to fail and I turned to these songs to give me hope and to help to salve the sadness. Driving along the M4 listening to Blood and Fire which seemed to be written for the situation –
“I am looking for someone, who can take as much as I give,
Give back as much as I need,
And still have the will to live.
I am intense, I am in need,
I am in pain, I am in love.
I feel forsaken, like to things I gave away.”
I get shivers just thinking about that song. So, 32 years apart but those songs timeless yet indelibly etched upon my mind.
3 U2 ‘War’ Special on many levels. 1983. I was 18 just finished my A Levels and had surprisingly passed with 3 ‘B’s” and about to go to Swansea University. My Mother and Father had promised to buy me a guitar if I passed so me and my Dad drove to Cardiff ( quite a rare thing in those days – big shopping trip and my Dad never liked shops!) I will always remember it was a cloudy overcast Summer day. The Fender acoustic was £75 ( bloody fortune when I think of it now) and my parents had saved £80 so there was a fiver left over and my Dad said if I wanted anything for University. I had been taping songs from the radio off the album so got the real thing. Oh that stark black white and red cover. The lyrics inside. Gatefold sleeve. A work of art in itself. Before memes, hashtags, likes and trolls just four people in a room making music.
New Year’s Day. Sunday Bloody Sunday. Drowning Man.
It got me thinking about politics, about loss, about how we treat each other and about how can I get my hair cut like Bono! And of course The Edge’s shimmering guitar sound.
Still have it and still listen to the full album no skipping on CD. ‘A world in white gets underway”,
An album that resonates on the personal level as it reminds me of parental love and struggle and on a more political societal level it awoke my interest in writing about how the world works and fails.
4 Setting Sons The Jam Had always loved The Jam. Always remember Going Underground straight into at number 1 double A side in 1979 as I was in hospital with a shattered elbow feeling low and that song lifted me.
The cover, again pulled me in. It looked epic. Sad but strong. Those faces. There was a little record shop in Blackwood, Martin Luther’s- it was where the cool people would hang out on a Saturday, flipping through the racks and then walking down the high street with the plastic bag that signified you had been there AND bought something! Then talk about it in school on Monday. This album reminds me of those days. Saving up for weeks to buy an album after taping the single from the Charts on Sunday. School discos on a Saturday night that would invariably end up with the hard kids who didn’t go to the school but would find a way in and cause a massive fight and the night would finish early because of blood and smashed glass. So Eton Rifles reminds of not so much class war but tribal gangs rucking against each other on a Saturday night when alI I wanted was to slow dance with a girl I had been fancying but too scared to ask out, for 3 months! Little Boy Soldiers, Burning Sky and of course Eton Rifles painted this battered landscape of late 70’s Britain. Wasteland and Saturday’s Kids connected to my own working class childhood. 10 songs that educated and entertained me for many a lonely rainy night in Blackwood. I recently bought the deluxe edition which has Going Underground on it. The missing piece finding its home on one of the most perfect albums ever made.
5 Lou Reed ‘Magic and Loss’ I came to Lou Reed late in life. So this 1992 offering didn’t reach me till a few years ago. Again something about the cover spoke to me. It features the musician dressed in black upon what could be a road or a coffin with the text in Red. Looks like Winter. With a stripped back sound and many lyrics spoken it is a monument to two of Reed’s friends who had recently died. Personal yet easily accessible and universal in tone the 14 tracks act as a sort of concept album- linked by the magic and the loss. I would just put it on and drive the A470 that links North and South Wales during a period of my life where I was confused, angry and experiencing my own searching for magic in losing. His voice reaches in and pulls out your stomach. No hit singles on there just brutal truth. ‘Sword of Damocles’ which opens with spine tingling cello, tells of cancer treatment-
‘to cure you they must kill you’
and ‘Cremation’, one of the most beautiful tracks, tells of the sea as keeper of souls
Well the coal black sea waits for me me me
The coal black sea waits forever
The waves hit the shore
Crying more more more
A bleak yet beautiful work of sonic art. It helped me feel unalone at a very difficult time and gave me strength to carry on and look to the future out of the detritus of the present.
As Shelley said ;
“Our sweetest songs are those of saddest thought.”
Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?
I think it would be ‘Eton Rifles’ by The Jam. Still so relevant now. A perfect fusion of melody anger and hope.
Plus I can play it on guitar!