The founder and songwriter of Donerail, an indie/alt country outfit from Portland that released a few albums over a 10-year span now brings us his solo project. Producing his latest record in a home studio, the adaptable Josh Patrice cites the influence of Pavement, Wilco, Mission of Burma, David Berman/Silver Jews, Neil Young in the latest page of his musical career.
YMX: Hey Josh, how is it going? some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would describe yourself, in a few words?
Josh Patrice: It’s going really well, I’m very excited to be talking to you. I suppose I’d describe myself as a singer-songwriter of sorts… though I’m not that great a singer! I’ve put out some twangy songs and alt-rock songs over the years, but I always tried to have interesting lyrics behind everything I was doing. Maybe it’s what my friends call “nostalgia-rock“
YMX: Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?
Josh Patrice: I played music growing up, starting on violin and moving to guitar, but it never really grabbed me until I started writing my own songs after college. At the time, I was listening to folk-rock and alt-country bands like Uncle Tupelo and early Wilco and was inspired by how raw and simple the songs were. It was a few chords, some desperate lyrics, and a bunch of energy. When you mixed that with my already deep knowledge of Neil Young and my burgeoning interest in noise-rock like Mission of Burma or Sonic Youth — out came something interesting… at least to me.
YMX: What would be your dream collaboration?
Josh Patrice: I always wanted to see the dog from Frasier ride the dolphin from SeaQuest…
YMX: You recently released ‘The Elders‘. Can you tell us how that project came about?
Josh Patrice: Yes, I released “The Elders” a few weeks back, it’s the single from my upcoming album “Clever Titles” Which, in retrospect isn’t all that clever. Like most people’s art in 2020, it was the output of me having a lot of time on my hands and being trapped in my home studio thanks to Covid-19. Everything was done there, entirely by myself. Michael Wiegand of Washes helped mix the album, and Gus Elg at Sky Onion Mastering mastered it. It comes out February 26th.
A few of these songs have been knocking around in my head for years. One was an old song from my first band, Donerail, that we could never get right. Another couple were from a project that never got off the ground with Brian Biggs of Shouter. The rest were written last year in an attempt to have calmer more polished songs. I’ve always been known to have a nervous energy to my songs. I tried to get away from that with some of the slower ballads, but wound-up filling most of the first side of the album with nervous energy. I guess you are who you are.
YMX: What inspires your songwriting work?
Josh Patrice: I suppose I get a lot of inspiration listening to music. I know I’m guilty of copping a riff here or there without realizing it. Case in point, I’d written this really beautiful tune last summer that I was sure was going to be a keystone of the album. As I was working out how the lead guitar might sound, I tried to take inspiration from David Rawlings’ style. After playing the tune back with the lead line, I went and pulled Time (The Revelator) off my shelf and sure enough I’d accidentally ‘written’ “Everything is Free” by Gillian Welch. So there went that song. Lyrically, I’d say I’m inspired by my own experiences. I reflected a lot on my past while writing this album. I wouldn’t say I’m a great storyteller, but I try to have a point or a plot to most of my songs. Even the simple love songs have an underlying story.
YMX: We are all missing live music at the moment. Once on the other side, which music venue would you choose for your first gig?
Josh Patrice: Man, I’d love to play The Tractor, here in Seattle. But for my first gig, I’d pick The Skylark. It’s a club my old band visited a few times. It was always so inviting for us when we were coming up from Portland.
YMX: What’s your band strategy in terms of music promotion? Direct-2-fans or via the “big dogs”?
Josh Patrice: I’m not sure I understand the question, but I’m just hoping to get things heard any way I can. I share songs with friends, do interviews like this, ask to be included on playlists, etc. I guess that’s “direct to fans;” I don’t have any delusions of grandeur here.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
Josh Patrice: Who knows! Honestly, I’m just happy to have done this and I’m eager to get back to writing. I’ve written and recorded dozens of songs over the years, but this is the first time I’ve enjoyed listening to them. I’m really happy with this album and I hope others will be when it comes out February 26th.