The Pretorian talks to Dan Patlansky about being blue but not as blue as Picasso, creating honest music, being yourself when writing, and only doing things you’re passionate about.
So Dan, are you quite well these days?
Very well. Thanks.
You have a new record on the horizon. Tell us a bit about that?
Well this is my 7th album, and 3rd in 3 years. It’s called “Dear Silence Thieves”, and I’m very excited to get this album out there and start playing it live!
How does this album differ from previous ones?
Well I think it’s the best album we’ve done to date. The songs are with out a doubt the strongest, as well as the playing, singing and everything else. Song writing was the primary focus to begin with. I wanted great songs and still be able to play a lot of guitar on this record. And I think we achieved that very well. “Dear Silence Thieves” shares many aspects of previous albums, but also had added elements previous records lacked.
Where did the title “Dear Silence Thieves” come from?
While on tour with Everlast, one of the first shows, 2 guys were talking while he was playing, and basically refused to play until the “Silence Thieves” shut up. I thought that was very cool as I’ve felt I like doing that a good few times myself.
Is there a personal narrative arc going across all your albums?
Not so much on earlier albums, those were more classic blues covers and such with the odd original thrown in. But over the last 3 albums I def think more life experience writing came into play in a big way. Thats the way of modern blues rock I think.
What moment in your life brought about your pursuit of music?
There wasn’t a moment really, but I grew up with parents that were both music crazy. And I grew up listening to what I play today. So music has and always will be a part of my life.
Which album changed your life?
A few changed my life. Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas Flood, Led Zeppelin IV, Pink Floyd Dark side of the moon.
A lot of times I listen to an album that is musically great but it doesn’t make me feel anything. Such an album won’t get a second listen. What do you think is the key to capturing people’s hearts when you are writing a song?
Being yourself when writing, and only doing something you’re passionate about. It’s not possible to create something everyone will like, but if your honest you have a better chance.
Did you know that “I Got the Blues” was the first published song to use the word blues?
I did not
Picasso went through a blue period when all his paintings were blue and they also featured subjects like prostitutes and beggars. Have you ever had a truly blue period?
Quite a few in my life, as its goes life is up and down , more so if your a touring musician. Never quite as bad as Picasso though.
It is said that the blues originated from slavery and a general feeling of despondency. Can you relate to that element of the blues?
Not really if I’m honest. That was a very different time for the blues, and it was played for very different reasons. I can relate to playing music when feeling down , but not to that point. I play what I play for one reason, its my first love
You know the legend of Robert Johnson and how he apparently traded his soul to become a master of the blues. The story goes that he met a tall black man (the devil) at a disputed crossroad in Memphis. The devil tuned his guitar, played a few songs, gave it back and Johnson’s been a legend ever since. How do you feel about attaching urban legends to music and the effect it has on the way it’s consumed?
I think its awesome. Stories like that def draw people closer to the blues out of complete curiosity, which can’t be a bad thing. I’m sure there are a few people out there that might take it the wrong way and think it was some kind of evil. But for the most part myths are great!!
Blue notes are said to be authentically African. Do you have a special affection for them?
I think their roots are African , but they were developed in the States by African slaves, I think:). They are very cool to play, but I don’t really favor them in anyway despite the name.
Who’s the bluest person you’ve ever met?
What’s the bluest you’ve ever been?
When in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina
Which do you feel closer to? The electric or the acoustic guitar?
I love both but Electric is my game.
How do you know when you are creating something really important?
You don’t. In fact often the stuff you think will be important never is and the stuff you thought was crap turn out being important.
Which of your own songs are closest to your heart?
Hold on, and Your War off Dear Silence Thieves.
What do you care about most of all?
Happiness (music ), Health, Family
Would you say the blues is in good shape right now?
Fantastic shape at the moment. It’s really booming world wide currently, and it will always be there in some degree.
I am feeling blue right now. Any advice?
Come down to the album launch , buy the new record, and tell everyone about it. Always makes one feel better.
QUESTIONS and PHOTOS|Ivan Serfontein