Pat Jordache is the moniker of multi-instrumentalist Pat Gregoire, a guy who has maintained a consistent presence in indie music for at least half a decade. If you’re not familiar with his name, that’s ok because you probably just know pretty much all of his other bands: Islands, Sister Suvi, tUnE-yArDs. Yeah I know right, that’s a crazy resume.
But all those past incarnations aside, Gregoire’s venture into solo territory is surprisingly distinct and uninformed by Merrill Garbus or Nick Diamonds (if you don’t count that uncanny Montreal pop aesthetic). His debut effort Future Sounds is a collection of murky, messy, pedal-imbibed pop–originally self-released and now receiving the re-issue treatment via Constellaiton Records.
I exchanged a few questions with Pat Jordache about his experiences as a newly solo artist, touching on the spectrum of artistic challenges as well as the bare logistics.
You have been involved with such a colorful list of really great projects–after so many years playing as a collaborator is it difficult to find your bearings as a solo voice?
I mean yeah, for sure. I guess finding my voice as a solo performer is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, taking off the training wheels as it were. A lot of discarded demos, agonizing over whether things are any good or not, playing things for people being this huge deal, naked dreams, the works. Music became this intensely private affair for a good year or two of my life; I guess it was a bit of a trip of the mountain where now I get to come down the other side all awake, at least a little bit. Probably not good policy to claim enlightenment, just setting yourself up for a big fall.
From the home recorded self-released version of Future Songs to its current re-issue incarnation via Constellation Records have there been any changes made or is it a straight up reissue sort of deal?
The album got a remaster for the Constellation Edition. My original release had been on Bandcamp and cassette and was self-mastered with the rave music video game program Reason. It had it’s charm, but the term “photocopy of a photocopy” has been tossed around. For this issue, after the mastering engineer Harris spent a good 3 hours trying to work on top of my previous job (during which time the phrase “polish a turd” may have been tossed around), I dug up these unmastered backups I had in my Mediafire account that we ended up working from. For the record this isn’t entirely a case of me being completely disorganized or unprepared for the mastering session; my laptop had been stolen with all of the sessions on it a year previous and so the backup discovery was significant one.
I’ve read that you played all of the instruments when you recorded Future Songs–how many instruments do you play and is there one in particular you feel the most connected to?
That’s not entirely true. Two friends of mine, Zsofia Zambo and Jeffrey Malecki played drums on the record. But yeah, otherwise I played the rest. I couldn’t say I feel particularly connected to any one instrument over another. Maybe the vocals, yeah the vocals, because it is an instrument contained within my own body which is a crazily personal thing when you really think about it. I got pretty laborious and ended up crafting all of the parts as if they need to stand on their own if the “solo” button got pushed. Lately, I’ve gotten more casual and let myself say, “oh it’s just a rhythm guitar track, just strum some chords, it’s going to be buried in the mix anyway” but back then everything had to be so developed and thought through. It’s time-consuming but also means there’s more heart in the final results. There’s something to be said for that craftsmanship, like those old cathedrals where they put retinas on the eyes of a gargoyle even though it’s 200 feet off the ground.
Seems like a lot of your lyrics are more impressions than like coherent stories or love songs, what would you say is the general emotion or state of mind running through the record? With some time out of the material do you see things differently?
I think at the time I was a little trapped up in this tendency a lot of songwriters I admired and was influenced by to shroud everything in imagery. Lately I’ve been struggling to free myself of that trope, trying to commit to just saying something that anybody can easily understand. More Imbruglia/Keith Urban, less Spencer Krug or something… whatever, I don’t want to sell out anything I wrote before, I stand behind that material. It’s like speaking ill of the dead or something, to talk shit on your own songs. But I do think that I was working through some difficult things that were hard to admit to myself and a public audience and it was easier to accomplish that process through metaphor.
After writing and recording your solo work did you piece together a live backing band quickly or has it been a rotating roster? Was that a tricky process?
Early on I would just perform solo, doing these elaborate re-arrangements of the song centering around this budget loop pedal I have which only has a one second memory. It’s sort of limiting but also kind of awesome; everything ends up being really droney and minimal. Once the music started getting out there a bit, people started petitioning me to get in on the live show. So the first band incarnation was me playing bas with the looper and two drummers, Philip Karneef and Thom Gillies. Things were still pretty minimal but had a percussive energy to them. From there, we added two guitarists, Rory Seydel and Patrik Winkelbrunn and this quintet is the settled live line-up for now.
Where did you pick up the “Jordache”? Is it a salute to some long lost pair of jeans or just a cool stage name?
No, not just a name! It’s a really calculated tactic to have my name and music more easily remembered by people. It’s this pneumonic trick where you steal something which has been made very widely know by millions and millions of dollars of marketing money and make it your own and thus get to abuse that notoriety for your own purposes. I guess the thought process was that it’s fair game considering the continuous plagiarism of ideas carried out by the advertising industry. I mean my old bandmate Nick got ripped off so hard last month! I hope he sues them and finally sends me my backpay from Islands!