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A few questions for Patrick Watson

INTERVIEW. Californian army brat Patrick Watson on his cinematic singer-songwriting and the true-ish life stories behind some of them.

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Brigitte Henry

California-born army brat Patrick Watson has spent most of his life as a Canadian, taking the nation’s top music prize in 2007 with Close to Paradise (Universal/Vertigo). His latest, Adventures in Your Own Backyard (Domino), delivers the same spine-chilling, cinematic singer-songwriting, and his live shows boast early 19th-century porn and depression-era cartoons, which you can witness for yourself on Friday, April 20 at the atmospheric Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche.

With song titles such as “Lighthouse”, “Strange Crooked Road” and “Swimming Pools”, were you thinking of a specific place while writing Adventures in Your Own Backyard?

No, it is definitely not about a specific place; I know the title sort of makes that assumption. One thing that inspired me while making this record was the David Lynch Interview Project, where he hired two girls to go around America and, if they saw a really strange character, stop the car and ask “What do you think about life?”

When you are travelling through America, you feel like you are in the strangest film that you never thought could be possible in real life. You meet strange characters everywhere in life, but I always wondered what these people were thinking, and the film created these documentary-esque life stories.

Everyone mentions David Lynch these days.

I guess in all the other albums I created very fictional kinds of stories, but for this one I was inspired by stories that were very grounded. And if they weren’t grounded, then stories that were true.

In the film, while the girls are on the road, they meet this woman, and her husband was mean to her for her whole life. And one day he got really drunk and fell asleep in the bed and she sewed him to the bed through the blanket, and she said to him: “I am not going to let you go until you promise that you will never, ever hit me again.”

And it’s kind of strange, the image of a woman sewing her husband to the bed. It’s kind of fun to think of that. Obviously it’s a dark fun, but just that she sews him to the bed thinking, “Now you are going to learn your lesson.” I thought that was kind of a beautiful true story.

So, you’re thinking of character types, and are not so concerned with environment.

No, well, not really: have you ever heard the saying, “a quiet crowd”? I picture all of these people piled into an office elevator, and everyone is dead quiet but you can hear people thinking in the back of their heads so loudly. Most people right now are caught in a position where they can’t find a place to put their ideas: there are a few really loud people talking, quieting the general public in the middle. That was something I really envisioned with this record, the quiet crowd.

Patrick Watson, Fri, Apr 20, 20:00 | Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche, Zossenerstr. 65, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Hallesches Tor