It's always a great privilege, for our website, to be able to talk to some inspiring artists coming from all around the world, showcasing not only their own musical talent at any possible level but also their life stories.
One of those highly gifted artists is, most certainly, South-African Blues/Rock guitarists and singer/songwriter Dan Patlansky, somebody that has always loved to tinge his well-crafted songs with snippets of personal life experiences through his tried-and-true playing style that has made Patlansky one of the most acclaimed artists of the genre in many different parts of the world.
Following the success of his latest record release in 2022, called Shelter Of Bones, Patlansky is now due to embark a new European Tour that will start in a few days time that will touch several venues in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe. Furthermore, for this May 2023 European Tour, Patlansky is proudly supporting, for the UK part of his Tour, Nordoff And Robbins, the UK's largest music therapy charity, with a unique approach shaped by more than 60 years of practice across all UK eight dates of Patlansky's UK leg of the Tour by fundraising and increasing awareness of their vital work.
Bluebird Reviews has had the pleasure to discuss with the South-African guitarist and singer/songwriter his latest album, the forthcoming tour and further details concerning a new studio album in the making for Dan Patlansky.
BR - Hi Dan, so good to talk to you again. The past 12 months have been incredibly rewarding for you, with a new album, Shelter Of Bones, which has seen unanimous consensus from the press and from your many fans. How pleased are you of the reception that followed the release of Shelter Of Bones?
DP - Very pleased. This has been the longest I have been seating on an album for, you know, two and a half, almost three years since it was conceived, because of what happened with COVID. You get to listen to the whole album time and time again, during that length of time and because you cannot release it, something inside of you starts to make you feel doubtful, about the album. Some days you listen to it and you think "Well, this is really a good album" and the next day you listen to it again and it's like "That sounds terrible, I think we should start it all over again from the scratch!". But when the album got released and was so well received by the fans and the critics, I suppose it was a relief for me, more than anything and I felt overjoyed by the way everyone reacted while listening to it.
BR - Does your new album, in your opinion, constitute a natural musical progression from your 2018's album Perfection Kills and did some of the songs changed their initial shape, after the initial writing in 2019?
DP - For what concerns Shelter Of Bones, the answer is Yes, some songs have got a different shape, in comparison to when they written initially. Sometimes we almost went around in circle, with the band, thinking to change a chord here, a chord there and then we found ourselves back to where we have intended to do, on a specific song. Again, I guess it's all about that self-doubting I was telling you of. If I am not mistaken, we also dropped one or two songs off what it then became Shelter Of Bones. I'd say that, overall, we changed perhaps just a ten percent of the whole of the album and I guess that was a sort of blessing in disguise, finding myself with all that forced time of inactivity during COVID and having the chance to refine some little aspects of the album, like arrangements and so forth. But, having said that, I don't wish to have all that time at my disposal ever again, to be honest, because it impacts so much the life of a music artist. For what concerned Shelter Of Bones being the next step on my artistic journey after Perfection Kills, I agree with you, although it was very different from Perfection Kills in many ways. The main difference, for me, it was having more people writing the songs of Shelter Of Bones and it felt great to have other minds writing with me. It was amazing to see how another person brings different things to the songwritng table that you don't often think of, when writing a song. I learned a lot, as a songwriter, during the process of making Shelter Of Bones and going forward, for my next albums, I don't think I am going to write songs exclusively on my own, because I enjoyed so much the experience of working with other writers and having their views too, during the songwriting process. Don't get me wrong, I am still the one that writes the basic idea and concept, behind a song but working with different people that inspire you to move the songwriting aspect into ways you couldn't initially perceive, it feels like a fantastic feeling. I guess it's what some may call Team Working! (smiles).
Photo by Tobias Coetsee
BR - 2020 and 2021 have been years where millions of people, including music artists, have been heavily affected by it. How much do you feel that this dramatic pandemic has, perhaps, changed you from a songwriting perspective?
DP - To be honest with you, COVID, as bad as it was, for millions of people around the world and music artists of course, it kind of made me realize not only the beauty of co-writing songs with different writers but also spending time to listen to music in general, not only my music but others' too. In some respects, it felt like falling in love with music again, you know. Not that I have ever fallen out of love with music in any ways but, as you can imagine, when you keep on touring, night after night for a long length of time, you don't have that much time to concentrate on working on how to get better and better as a guitarist and as a singer, because duty calls and you have to do the task in hand every night, which is being on stage playing my music. COVID, as strange as it may sound, gave me time, the opportunity of improving myself as an artist at 360 degrees, during that forced period of inactivity, on a musical level. And going back to the co-writing side of my music, that forced time off allowed me to find the best writing team that really understand the direction I want to go towards, when writing a song. Often, you can work with skilled writers but they may be not necessarily be the people that can feel your music and where you are going with it. I can openly say now that I am working with the best writing team I could dream of, right now.
BR - A new European Tour is due to start and you must be feeling incredibly excited, about it. How overwhelming has been for you these last 6-7 years of your career, to feel that incredible love that your fans have been showing for you everywhere you have been in Europe?
DP - Man, what can I say? To me, it's really a dream come true. Don't get me wrong, I've got still a long way to go, in my career, because I am not selling out places like Royal Albert Hall in London or anything like that, because I am still playing in relatively small venues but that doesn't matter to me much. What really matters to me, it is the fact that I can jump on a plane with my band, I can come to places like the United Kingdom or any other place in Europe, get invited to play at Festivals and, most importantly, to be allowed to share what I love and what I do with fans all over the world. That fact alone constitutes a real dream coming true to me. It has always been a dream of mine, since I was a kid, the idea of being able to travel the world and play my music to all different music lovers and fans all around the globe. It has been a while, since I toured Europe and, honest to God, I can't wait to be there again with my band.
BR - Do you feel that the worldwide success achieved by an album like Dear Silence Thieves (2014) was a key game changer for your career, in terms of allowing you to reach the right visibility to music masses that an artist like yourself truly deserves?
DP - That album, in particular was a key album for sure, for me, in that respect. It was a record that opened certain doors to which I had been knocking for few years in vain, at that time. A record that allowed me also finally to hit the right touring circuit, like we were discussing before, in UK, Europe and to many music festivals around the world, something that felt unreachable, before Dear Silence Thieves got released. It is to me, most certainly, a pivotal album in my career to date and I am just grateful that Dear Silence Thieves turned up to be the album that it was and a record that, to these days, I know still resonates with my fans.
BR - We understand that, during your European Tour, you will be playing new tunes from your forthcoming album. At what stage your new album is and when can we expect it to be released?
DP - Well, myself and the band we are now at the stage that most of the songs of the new album are already written but not yet arranged in their final form. The reason why I am playing some of the new songs live, on my forthcoming tour, it is because we would like to test them while we are On The Road with the fans. I know that this gets against the stereotypical process of recording and releasing a new studio album, like, you write the songs, record an album, you then release it and then you tour that record. Yes, of course we will still do that but the thing is, I remember when I was much younger, listening to those Old School bands and that was the way they used to deal with their new songs, meaning testing them while touring and getting the best feedback possible before returning to the studio and complete the album. Also, for me, because I know, after many years spent touring, that songs always evolve, musically, when you are touring, there is always a side of me telling to myself "Damn, I wish I had recorded that song with that particular arrangement, rather than the one that got released". We are planing to get into the studio and record the new album around July this year and by that point, most of the new album's songs will be already played live while we are touring. In that way, we will have a very good understanding of how the song should sound, which direction should go in terms of arrangement and so on. I am hoping that the release date of the new album will be early 2024, if all goes according to plan. We are playing a couple of shows here in South Africa, before embarking the European Tour and man, the new songs really sound great and I am incredibly excited to the idea of playing them for the European fans too very soon. There are songs involving three part harmonies and they feel really great. We have been testing these songs with my band here in South Africa and all works so incredibly well and that is one of the many reasons why I am taking my band from South Africa over with me to Europe for this Tour. Again, I am super excited about the new songs and I cannot wait for everyone to hear them.
BR - Will the setlist of the European Tour concentrate majorly on Shelter Of Bones or is there any chance for the fans to hear, together with your major hits from albums like Introvertigo or Dear Silence Thieves also material from older albums like Move My Soul, for example?
DP - Definitely. Besides the new songs, we have got quite a wide array of songs that we are planning to play live, on this Tour, like one or two tunes from records like Move My Soul, as you said, or even material from my very first album (2004's True Blues) together with songs from various albums, including those you mentioned before. There will be enough material for everyone coming to the shows, which will included new songs, some hits, some songs from early recordings in my career, all sorts.
BR - Will your American fans have any chance to see you touring over there too anytime soon, Dan?
DP - Man, it has been so long since I last played in the States, I believe that the last time I played there was around the sad events that followed Hurricane Katrina (2005), at the time I was living in New Orleans. It is definitely on the cards to return to the States, for sure. You know, it is, in some ways, a bit daunting touring the States. It is such a big place and you cannot do, like you would do in a much smaller country like, say, the United Kingdom, 8 shows in a Tour and you have pretty much covered the whole of the country, while if you go in an American state like Texas, for example, to do 20 shows won't be probably enough to cover just one county! (smiles). As daunting the prospective is to tour such an enormous country like the United States, it would be an absolute dream to get back there and play my music to the American crowds.
BR - Dan, Shelter Of Bones showed, in its lyrics, an artist, a father, a husband with an enormous appreciation to everyday's life and, particularly, the importance of family and immense love for it. What version of Dan Patlansky, man and artist, will your new album gift us with?
DP - That is a very easy question to answer. The version of me you will see is the one of me getting back to what I love the most in life. That doesn't mean that I am going back to play traditional 12-bars Blues, which I love, don't get me wrong but it is about going back and taking control, in a sense, of what I love the most. In music, what I love the most, it is the songwriting and writing songs with the idea of making an album that, if it wasn't mine, I want still to buy and listen to it, if it wasn't me doing it. The album will be a journey for me of self-discovering or, to better describe it, re-discovering, perhaps. Re-discovering myself, who I am and who I wanna be. Funnily enough, this was something that, again, the COVID period brought up. Having all that time, sitting around the house, thinking what is really really important in my life overall... That really is the main bullet point of my forthcoming album and most of the songs are tied into that idea. I really hope that the fans will love it as much as I loved writing it.