Patrick Wolf - The cub grown to a wolf
Added on 15th January 2006
Patrick Wolf is this country's finest 21st century minstrel.
It's October 16th, 2005 and Patrick Wolf strides onstage in Nottingham wearing a black, hooded cape you see Satanist cult members wear in films. It's a rainy Sunday, and the first night of a nationwide tour in which Wolf is opening for the massively popular Bloc Party. Two weeks later, on Halloween itself, he'll be releasing 'Tristan', the third single from his sophomore album, and playing a solo show at the London Scala. This will mark the end of a hectic month for the young singer/songwriter. Releasing his first album at the tender age of 19, 'Lycanthropy' was his electronica-meets-the-violin collection of songs that told of a young man's coming of age. Following this in 2004 with a real display of power, his sophomore album, 'Wind in the Wires', showed that Patrick Wolf is a songwriter of the same calibre as Bob Dylan and Conor Oberst. Favouring the ukulele and viola to spin his melancholic tales of beauty, Patrick Wolf is quickly becoming the best minstrel in the land. Now with the tour, the single and a forthcoming third album, this wolf looks ready to go far.
The cub grown to a wolf
"I feel like I'm getting near to perfecting the language I was born to communicate in', Patrick Wolf says, talking about the progression of his third album. This, as yet unnamed, record is looking to be released in the beginning of 2006. The album will feature confidence, happiness, domesticity, love, magic, bravery, and will probably be the first ever album to feature "harpsichords and disco" on the same long-player. Citing personal growth and learning how to "steer this sometimes turbulent titanic ship of mine" as the keys to his progression, Wolf says that this has been a good year for him. "Every day this year, since the first of January, has been filled with music," he says. However, Patrick Wolf's music has a tendency to feature gruesome themes, exposing the nasty side of humanity. Take for example his song, "The Childcatcher", a song about an abusive partner, or previous single "The Libertine" which in gleeful cynical humour tell of people falling off horses and having their hands cut off. Whilst Wolf's third album is looking to be a happy affair, he lets on that he is already working on his fourth effort. And it looks to be as bleak an experience as he has ever offered the listener. "If this third record is to be total ecstasy, expect to be dragged through the darkest corners of the underworld next. It will be a brave departure to just get as black and ugly as possible without any remorse."
Playing concerts is an important part of any minstrel's life, and Wolf is no exception. Having spent most of the last three years on the road, Patrick admits to being a bit reluctant to going back on the road in support of his forthcoming album. "After this year of touring, I can feel a little Kate Bush behaviour growing, but hopefully I can overcome this," he says. "Although I am drawn to the stage like a blind moth to burning flame, my home is in front of the piano, walking free through the city or the forest, in front of the recording equipment, stirring the magic potions in my cauldron."
"I am drawn to the stage like a blind moth to burning flame"
Magic and mystery is a recurring theme in Wolf's songs, and also his videos. Upcoming single 'Tristan' will be accompanied by a video directed by Paul Gore, a man who has previously worked with such names as Placebo, Starsailor and DJ Shadow. Patrick's earlier video for previous single 'Wind in the Wires' found the singer running naked through a council estate sixteen times. "I was naked to recreate the vulnerability of the emotion in the song. I'm quite a brave person these days so getting me to be bare and pale and showing all my nakedness was a good trick to show up some good old insecurity on camera", he explains. In that respect, 'Tristan' is the opposite. The video features Wolf in full armour, walking through the woods and being attacked by 'evil spirits'. "Tristan is a very immortal and invincible character. Tristan the medieval knight has been around since the time of King Arthur, and is constantly reborn through literature, opera and sometimes through people," Wolf explains. The video demanded that he pushed himself to the edge of his physical capabilities, and in the end he went home at seven in the morning, "...soaking to the bone in my pants and a wolf skin fur coat in a taxi with my legs and arms cut open with a bruised rib."
Occult imagery, armour and bruised ribs aside, Patrick Wolf is set to reach the mainstream pretty soon. With his soft croon, songwriting ability and violin, it wouldn't be surprising to see Wolf placed alongside other modern bards. "My main focus in life will always be to make and give music," he says. Patrick Wolf is keen to mark that he writes songs for everyone, and that he encourages others to find their voice through them. "I can think of no higher compliment to your song than other people singing it. My songs are for everyone, once you release them into the public domain, they are public property for anyone to do what they want with. My secret fantasy is to see someone in a karaoke bar or on "stars in their eyes" doing a song of mine." The way Patrick Wolf's career seems to be going, it shouldn't be long until he can see this particular fantasy come true.
Pictures from tomlab.com.
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