Rats with lonely hearts aren’t that lonely after all! – Interview with Paddy
Hungary’s most popular Irish-style punk band Paddy and the Rats opened up new chapters in their life this autumn, and not just musically. Where to go from here and how – that’s what we asked from frontman Paddy.
Tell us what happened after the release of the last album. What kind of changes have PatR gone through?
Paddy: We could say that the previous album was kind of a breakthrough for the band. We could show ourselves on the main stages of festivals, we did sold-out gigs throughout the country, and even the European press spoke quite highly of our record, so we got invited to a lot of new places to perform. When we began writing the new material our priority was not to repeat ourselves, so we dove into song writing without any constraints, and later embellished the tracks with folk instruments. The thing that remained unchanged is of course the signature Paddy sound with its rockin’ punk tunes, catchy melodic vocals and bouncy folk elements.
Your fanbase has almost doubled in the last 3 years. This is quite a feat, since your fans are known to be very committed and active. Looking from the stage and various social media, do you see any changes in the audience?
P: Now that some of our songs are a bit more pop and the radios have begun playing our music, our audience has expanded, both in numbers and in variety. Of course, there are lots of people at our concerts who we already know personally, being long-time loyal Paddy fans. On the other hand, there are more and more young new faces in the crowd, which is probably due to the fact that, other than our more varied style, the band is 7 years old. I guess there might be some people who have had kids since our first gig in 2008, so they can’t really go to our concerts that often anymore. However, there are quite a few 18-20 year-olds at our gigs recently, who didn’t have much of a chance to be at our early shows because they would’ve been like 10 years old. I think this kind of healthy fluctuation is totally normal and unavoidable.
Why are lonely hearts the main theme of the new album? You mentioned before that the lyrics are full of pain, loneliness and struggle – so where has the drinking and partying Pub’n’Roll vibe gone?
P: There’s still some of that! (laughs) If you listen to the whole album you can find quite a few cheerful and rambunctious lyrics too. Besides, we had some more profound and introverted lyrics before, such as Pilgrim on the Road, Farewell to Jenny, or Never Walk Alone. I like to discover what’s deep inside when I’m writing my lyrics, because I never know what I can find. I think one of the main tasks of an artist is to venture into the depths of their soul and write about the things they find there. You can’t always have sunshine and cold beer on your mind, because that’s not what life is all about. (laughs) There are bad moments and tough situations that you have to solve and survive. Everyone knows that from experience. I pour my experiences into writing, because that’s what makes me process a certain situation. Afterwards, I feel much better, and I hope others can find solace in my work too. Back in high school I was always browsing through volumes of poetry, because there were questions in my mind only Ady, Attila József or Rimbaud could answer.
You’ve been performing more and more abroad, which has always been one of your goals. Recently, even the biggest Hungarian clubs don’t seem to be enough for you guys. Where can you go from here?
P: Always onward! (laughs) Naturally, our main goal is growth. We want to get our music out there for as many people as possible, to show different cultures around the world what we’re capable of. We love to write songs, to play music, to see the world, getting to know people and cultures, so we really enjoy playing in other countries. It’s even more fun when we see the crowd enjoys it too. We’re in the middle of a Europe tour right now, actually. We already have plans for an American tour in March and another, all-encompassing Europe tour in April next year. Needless to say, we don’t want to leave our Hungarian fans behind either. We’ll be showcasing our new album in a bunch of Hungarian cities this year.
Paddy, you’re going to be a father soon. Does this have any influence on your musical activities?
P: It’s a very strange but heart-warming feeling. I still haven’t quite grasped what’s going on, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll have to be more responsible from now on, that’s for sure! (laughs) In fact, I’ve already written lyrics for little Patrik. The song What We Are is sort of a guide for him on how to live life. I think it’s crucial that every person is an independent and unique individual. The most important thing for him will be to find his own path and place in the world. He should be able to stand by himself, his thoughts and feelings, and to be proud, because these are the things that will determine who he is. I think it’s the worst when people blindly follow the masses, only because they’re scared of sticking out, of being cast out and humiliated just because they’re different. The message of this song is that he should have the courage to define himself no matter what, and stick to that. Of course he can only listen to it after his 18th birthday because of the “we fuck and we drink” part. (laughs)
If I remember correctly, Clown was your favourite song from the previous album. Which of the tracks from LHB is closest to your heart, and why?
P: I’m really fond of Sleeping With The Winter and Blue Eyes. That’s not a coincidence, by the way, since both of these songs started out as solo works, so they’re quite personal. Two other favourites of mine are My Sharona and Rogue.
There were news of you making a solo record in the past, and now it turned out that those tracks became part of LHB. What made you decide on this?
P: I started writing different kinds of songs. I made lots of acoustic and new folk tunes, which are quite different from usual Paddy And The Rats songs. I just wanted to show a different side of me. Because of all the gigs, however, we didn’t have as much time in the studio as before the Tales album. That’s one of the reasons why it took almost 3 years for the new record to be released. The problem didn’t stem from writing the actual songs – you can do that anywhere –, but from recording them, which is a bit more work. Since I’m the producer of the Paddy albums as well, I have to sit there at every recording session to help figure out the various elements and parts of the tracks. A lot of times I’m the one doing the recording too. It’s pretty time-consuming, so I didn’t have time to make two records simultaneously. The guys in the band liked some of my acoustic songs though (Sleeping With The Winter, Blue Eyes, Without You), so they ended up on the album.
Do you still have plans for a separate solo release?
P: Of course I do, but that won’t clash with Paddy’s activities. Seamus and I have a studio where we work on other projects too. I try to support other artists and bands as a producer, because I just love music so much, and I need variety and new challenges. Right now I’m working with a Nigerian guy. His music has pop-disco and rnb elements, it’s very exciting. Writing and arranging this kind of music is a whole other world. His mentality and attitude towards music is also different from that of people around here, so doing projects like this can be really inspiring for me. Since his approach to music is totally different, I adapt to that too. I can bring out amazing things from him, and he in return opens up new musical horizons before me. All in all, I really cherish these experiences, because I’m able to develop myself further.
What was the reaction like for your new, different style?
P: Basically, the overall reaction to the new album was quite good. We released two songs in advance, songs that sound quite different from our past works, so some people got a bit scared. As soon as the album was released, however, it was all good. After all, the classic Irish pub-punk tunes are still present, along with an assortment of new tricks, which we incorporated into our sound quite well, in my opinion.
Are there any plans for new music videos? Will you continue your ‘pirate tales’?
P: We’re shooting one for My Sharona in October, and we plan on doing one for Sleeping With The Winter around Christmas time. Next spring, we’ll make a video for the title track, Lonely Hearts’ Boulevard too. The concept for My Sharona’s music video is already complete, by the way. All I can say is that it’s going to be pretty wild and shocking.
You’ll have a big concert at Barba Negra Music Club where you will showcase the material from your new album. Do you plan on having anything extra, besides the regular show?
P: We’ve prepared a whole new setlist, whipping out some songs we haven’t played for a long while. There will be all sorts of special extras to boot, like projection screens, light shows, and new stage props.