Introducing Patch William: Young Hearts Shooting For The Sun

Patch William have everything going for them: they’ve made a fantastic debut album with great feeling and impeccable songs.

Posted on Feb 25th, 2010 in Features and Interviews, Patch William / By Charlie Elwess
Patch William It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that there are, these days, MILLIONS of bands all vying for your attention, your precious time and money. Thanks to MySpace, the ubiquity of the internet, the affordability of modern musical equipment and the ease with which music can be recorded, there are probably more bands out there than have ever existed before. Here at Bearded HQ we are literally bombarded daily by bands, labels and PR companies trying to tout us “The Next Big Thing” and, to be frank, it’s impossible to give them all the time of day. You can have the biggest advertising budget in the world, spam the whole of Facebook, push emails to as many movers and shakers as you wish but you just can’t beat good old-fashioned word-of-mouth discovery. The feeling of discovering a band you love through a trusted friend is, unequivocally, priceless.

Every once in a while a little band comes along that gives you that feeling, that je ne sais quoi, the feeling that means you instantly have to own everything they’ve ever produced and tell all your mates the next day. It was The Strokes in 2001, Arctic Monkeys in 2005 and in 2010? Well, there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be Patch William. The very week that Bearded unearthed their album we knew we just had to let you all know, so we caught up with them at their gig in London’s Borderline on the 17th of February.

The London-based band consists of brothers Will and Ed Adlard on vocals/guitar and drums respectively, George Eddy on guitar and the girl of the group, Ali Digby on bass and vocals. They released their first album independently and somewhat quietly on their manager’s record label, Hubris Records at the end of last year and are gathering more and more momentum. Bearded interviewed them before the show in their diminutive dressing room. Here’s how it went down:

Bearded: How did the band start?

Will: Well, me and Ed are brothers and we started playing together about five years ago, no more, about six or seven years ago in our house. My dad’s a guitar fanatic and had lots of stuff everywhere so I learned how to play the guitar. I started writing songs at school and then eventually we started playing songs with my dad on bass and got something together. Then George joined in and Ali joined in when we signed the deal with Steve.

Bearded: So were you going for long as a 3-piece before Ali and George joined?

Will: No we pretty much started playing gigs when George joined the band and my dad was on bass for a while, then Ali eventually filled the slot.

Ali: I’m glad you didn’t use the word “replaced” your dad, because he couldn’t be replaced. He’s irreplaceable.

Bearded: So why did you decide to “drop” your dad from the band, as it were?

Will: It was always gonna be that we were gonna get someone else.

Ed: He was always filling a space as opposed to actually being a part [of the band].

George: And also Ali came because we were recording the album and we needed…have you heard “The Last Bus?”

Bearded: Yeah.

George: We were talking about putting cello on it and stuff, and we were just like, “Who can we get to play cello?” and Ali’s a really old friend of mine so I phoned her up and she came down. After she did the cello we were like, “Oh can you do some vocals?”

Bearded: So was that for Introducing session with Tom Robinson?

Will: No, it was for our album which was before that.

So we got Ali, yeah, and she did vocals on it and it was really good so we were like, “Let’s get her to join the band if she can learn bass.” So she had to learn bass in like a month…

Ali: Two weeks, for the first showcase. But lucklily, well hopefully, some of the skills from cello were a bit transferable.

Will: Yeah well as you said, turn the cello round and (adopting a Jack Black a-la-School of Rock lilt) “chello!”

Ali: Yeah! (laughing) I said that in an interview once on Radio 2 and it was so cringe!

Bearded: On your band biography it says you guys all went to university, is that right? How did that work?

George: Yeah I was at Leeds, Ed was at Bristol and…

Will: Ali was at Manchester.

George: … so we were kinda of all juggling between coming back every weekend and rehearsing.

Will: I’m three years younger than all of them so I just left school, well I was still at school actually…I left like, a year ago. Now I’m free.

Bearded: Were any of you studying anything music related?

Ed: No, ridiculous subjects!

Ali: Economics

Ed: Yeah I was doing maths and economics, [Ali] was doing economics and [George] was…

George: History. But in our gap years me and Ed went to…well he wen to L.A. Music Academy, I went to Guitar Institute so like, we’d always sort been into music, y’know?

Bearded: Had you been in bands before Patch William?

George: Me and Ed, before we were in this band, were in a band together.

Will: It was like a blues, y’know Beatles and stuff, covers band. I was actually in the band for one gig when I was like fourteen.

Ed and George: (laughing) Yeah!

Bearded: That background, especially Jimi Hendrix style blues guitar tones, really seems to stand out on your album.

Will: Yeah we’re all very influenced by that guitar sound.

Ed: We do whip out the occasional “Watch Tower” as a cover!

Bearded: The debut, self-titled album, came out last November on Hubris Records, your manager’s label, and is currently an iTunes only release. Why did you make the decision to release it exclusively there?

Will: Well it’s all very much self-contained, our whole thing at the moment. We’re doing everything ourselves and self-funding…and obviously it’s really expensive to print CD’s. So we’re already out on a limb recording that album. Basically we’re doing this all under our own steam at the moment and we’re hopefully gonna sign a deal sometime soon with a publisher. We did actually print a thousand copies to sell at gigs and stuff.

Bearded: You’ve got a new EP coming out soon haven’t you?

George: Yeah it’s coming out on the 22nd of February.

Will: It’s actually already out.

George: Yeah it’s available now on iTunes. It’s a track called Jealousy from the album, but we’ve got two bonus tracks on it: one brand new track that we recorded two weeks ago called Ballerina Nina, which is an upbeat, fun bluesy song. Then we did a live acoustic version of, The Beaten Street which is another track from the album.

Bearded: Is that digital only?

George: Yeah on iTunes.

Will: Also we’re getting in with some more internet sites, including streaming sites.

Bearded: Warner came out recently in the news against streaming sites like We7 and Spotify. How do you feel about online streaming?

Ed: I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s all about accessibility nowadays and not ownership. So it’s not about owning the record, it’s about being able to listen to it when and where you want to. So y’know, the record labels are gonna hate that because it’s gonna take away from some income streams, but they just need to move on with the times. The money isn’t in that side of the industry, it’s still in lots of other sides they just need to grasp that and try and pull their weight in those areas so that they can earn more.

Bearded: Stephen Fry tweeted about you last year. How did that come about? Have you met him?

Will: We haven’t met him. Steve (Levine, the band’s record producer) was doing some work with him and they were just talking about things and Steve said, “Oh, I’m working with Patch William” and stuff…Stephen then went and looked us up, really liked it and sent a message out about it, so it was completely his choice.

Ali: He’s been a big fan since.

George: We’re doing a charity gig, he’s sort of involved with…it’s for Mind, on May 13th. It’s for Mind but it’s called Fry’s Gig and it’s a load of bands that he really likes.

Will: He’s doing a few of them

George: He’ll be there and we’ll meet him.

Ali: Which will be surreal because it feels like we know him really well now.

Bearded: Did you have a very big attention spike after he mentioned you?

George: Yeah, yeah massive!

Will: He sent a message out about our video when we released our first single, and it was like two days and we had fifteen thousand plays.

George: It was the third most watched music video in the UK.

Ali: He put a direct link on his tweet…

Will: Which goes out to like, a million people!

Bearded: What does the future hold for you guys? You’ve done a few dates around the UK recently but will there be a full tour?

Ali: I’d love to because a lot of my friends are still at Manchester Uni so it’d be good to go there before the year’s up.

George: We get a lot of messages from people on the MySpace saying, “Can you come to Leeds, Manchester, wherever” you know. We did a couple of gigs two years ago, but because last year we were so busy recording the album we did so many gigs in London, we’ve sort of been going around London but we’re gonna move all over.

Bearded: What about album number two, when’s that on the cards?

Will: Well we’re gonna be recording that, start recording that in the next two months or so. We’ve got loads of songs in the pipline, but like, we need to work on them and get them ready.

Ed: Aim to release at the end of the year.

Bearded: Ali, since you joined the band have you got involved much on the song-writing front?

Ali: Most of the songs were written for the first album already, but hopefully for the second album I’ll have more input. I’d really love to.

Will: We’re working in a much more…a group sort of way now anyway. Because it started off with me just recording songs in my basement, Ed had the drum parts and me and George would just go through things. It was very much small and self-contained things, now we do it in rehearsals. We just go through stuff…we did some acoustic songs for Napster and we re-worked the song “Jealousy”, our single and then made it into a more chilled out thing. It was really nice to be able to re-work the songs and put a new spin on them.

Ali: We also did a Beyonce “Single Ladies” cover – a blues version! So you have to listen to that one!

Bearded: Lastly, do you have any new bands that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

George: There’s this band that we’ve played with a lot called The Wild Mercury Sound who are good.

Will: Yeah they’re really good, very young. We were at school with them and they’re pretty cool.

Patch William are one of those bands that finish each other’s sentences, such is their familiarity and closeness. Their enthusiasm for what they do comes over in spades and, listening to the album, they clearly take great care in every aspect of what they do, none more so than their song-writing and musicianship.

As the band takes to the Borderline’s small but hallowed stage later in the evening, there is a palpable sense of anticipation in the audience. Patch William also know that they are being watched by several industry figures, but it doesn’t seem to daunt them much as they boldly open the set with a brand new, never before heard song. It seems to go down well enough, but it’s not until second song “Take Me Home To Marylebone” that the band settle into their stride. Will’s all dolled up like a real rock star; part 80’s Johnny Marr, part Keith Richards with a good helping of Beatle. His vocal delivery owes a debt to more recent figures though, sharing the similar heartfelt characteristics of Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club and Mystery Jets’ Blaine Harrison. As it turns out he can really wail on the guitar too, unleashing monstrous blues licks in tunes like “Bad From The Start” and, although he’s clearly the axis around which the band revolves, he never once steals the limelight from the rest of the group.

Ali has clearly taken to the bass like the proverbial duck to water, holding the groove just as much as she has to, as well as adding beatific vocal harmonies into the mix. Meanwhile, George and Ed solidly hold up their end of things too, most notably shining in songs like “Her Black Tights” and “These Young Hearts” with the quirky beats of the verses giving way to the pure guitar rock of the outro. All the elements are there and the musicianship is high, the only thing missing is really a bit of movement and the kind relaxed feel that can only be achieved by touring hard. It will come in good time.

Patch William have everything going for them: they’ve made a fantastic debut album with great feeling and impeccable songs, they’re working with an experienced, forward-thinking team and they’ve just inked a publishing deal with Chrysalis. Perhaps their greatest attribute though, is their relationship with each other, which will doubtless steer them safely through the uncertain waters of today’s music industry. All that remains is for them to get out of London properly and show the world what they’ve been waiting for.

Ready? Set? Go!