Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Patrick Wolf could not have been himself on the day that he recorded here with us, and he said as much. You see, he was here in Rock Island, Illinois, the morning following a gig in Minneapolis that ended just seven hours prior. It was nine in the morning here, a time that Wolf considers ungodly and disgusting. He was stirred from a very short amount of slumber just before recording and he was struggling with his decision to agree to such a thing, to do this to his body. He told us at the conclusion of the session all about his classically trained voice and how it's really not meant to operate appropriately or well before four in the afternoon at the minimum. All the same, he pulled it off and during the brief session - with his Nylon Magazine wrapped bus out front and tourmates The Plastiscines sleeping away their morning like people with their heads screwed on right would be, dealt the same situation - he showed himself and his raw as red meat concerns even more bluntly, in a way that was shockingly human and nothing like the glamorous vamping and swelling that he normally does. On his latest album, "The Bachelor," Wolf is a seeker, someone jumbled up and contemplative about all of the seriousness and gravity that levels him from every side. He takes on the hard times - which they all seem to be these days - and he makes them seem impossibly bitchy, as if there will always be something or another weighing down on him, causing those sleepless nights full of tossing and turning and bloated eyes. There are relationship issues smirking at him, daring him to act, to be a man, to just look them in the face and do something. These are issues with his father, with lovers, with any of the many conventional ways that people show their care for one another, particularly the silver rings that some wear on their fingers as signs of faith. He's got a whole cocktail of issues to deal with on a daily basis and who can tell if he ever gets any closer to resolutions with any of them. It doesn't sound like he's closer to the kind of twisted and abstract Peter Pan happiness that he ma be searching for - anything to diminish the amount of affect real troubles have on him. He's a guy, who on this day arrived at the studio in a saggy V-neck, plain white tee-shirt and jeans, still with the sticky stage glitter stuck in clumps around his ear openings and his eyes, but comes across as someone who might prefer wearing expensive bed clothes and never leaving his house for the scariness outside those walls may be too much to handle. Or, it could be that he'd rather never come home because that's when all of the demons prance and simmer the most. He seems to refer to such an emotion on "The Bachelor" when he sings about his travels and how he's turned into such a pale and deathly figure. The streams of feelings and ideas in his latest songs are full of suffering and wildly depressive and worrisome concerns that overwhelm him. There are hits to self-confidence and general mental health riddling his thoughts in a continuous romp and he seems like someone who needs fixing, who needs open arms and a good tight embrace. This session was taped at the other end of a week that started with his arrest in San Francisco for allegedly showing a security guard at a club and subsequently being allegedly threatened to be shot if he stepped one foot out of the bus. It was all a huge mess and the reports sounded preposterous, but something weird happened out there in the Bay Area. He didn't come across as the kind of guy who would attract such attention, just a guy who cares about when his voice wakes up and forgets to wash the sparkly grime off around his face sometimes.