It’s been a busy year for Patrick Kelleher – variously, and with or without His Cold Dead Hands, he has released his second album, Golden syrup, on Osaka, to much acclaim and a Choice Award nomination, played at the SXSW Festival in Austin TX, joined the ranks of The Jimmy Cake for the purposes of live performance, released a set of doo-wop covers on cassette, embarked on a tour of the Balkans and Germany and performed with band at the NOVA contemporary arts festival in Sao Paolo. Ahead of PK&HCDH appearances at the Castlepalooza and Indiependence festivals, Conor asked him a few questions about the Brazil adventure, and some other things…
How did the Brazil trip come about?
David Quiles Guillo, who organises NOVA and co-runs Rojo contemporary arts projects in Sao Paulo, saw our video for ‘Miracle Candle’ online and invited the director, Sophie Gateau to NOVA 2011. The following September he emailed me to ask if I’d like to bring the band over to play the festival, as well as asking Sophie to return in order to do live visuals for our show. At some point in the correspondence, David asked me if I could recommend any support acts, to which I responded with links to the music of Catscars and School Tour. He liked their music so much that he offered them shows of their own, on a different day of the festival.
For people who haven’t heard of NOVA, can you tell me about it, describe it based on your experience?
NOVA is a contemporary arts festival which takes place in urban/industrial spaces in a few different cities around the world. You can see anything there from experimental electronic music, to performance artists, to street art, to photography, to live weaving on home made looms. It felt colourful, bright, and extremely healthy in a city with so much concrete and traffic fumes. I saw only the Sao Paolo branch of it, which took place in SESC Pompeia, a walled cluster of converted factory buildings run by SESC, a nationwide, non-profit initiative in Brazil involved in hosting not only arts, theatre, music and cultural events but also sporting and social activities. We were very fortunate to be part of it.
How long did you all spend there? And what were your impressions of the country/city?
10 days. Sao Paulo is far bigger than any city I had ever previously been to, in all dimensions, so initially I kind of felt like a character in Honey I Shrunk The Kids. But it almost felt like you could find anything you wanted to there, if you looked hard enough, which was nice. Most of the people we met were friendly and kind, and there is good food, drink and Samba music/dancing to be found in the thousands of small restaurants and bars buried in the labyrinth of streets.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to do any travelling outside of the city.
Did you get to see/hear much else of the festival programme?
Yes, E*Rock and Jason Forrest were on the same bill as us and were both really great, also Byetone, Mark Jenkins, Mulheres Barbadas, Ryoichi Kurokawa and Optical Machines were some of the highlights for me.
How were the audiences at the festival, did you find a different atmosphere to this side of the world?
They were pretty similar to ours: for the most part afraid to dance lest somebody see them enjoying themselves (with exceptions of course) – dancing aside, quite enthusiastic, friendly and musically aware. During our set I used a cordless mic, and pranced about the dancefloor and across tables, which they seemed to enjoy.
You also did a couple of European tours last year, any other plans to tour abroad?
Yes we were lucky enough to play around Europe and UK a bit last year. I loved all of it. As for the future, no concrete plans at the moment, I’d like to do a small US tour, and there is talk of another Balkan tour later this year or early next year. Any chance to play music abroad is a genuine pleasure for me.
Any plans or direction in place for the next “Cold Dead Hands” recordings?
I’m working on some new demos which I’m excited about, but they are in the very early stages, I have been without any digital recording capabilities for a while so I am just getting back into it now. It’s really too early to say what the eventual result will be.
I loved your doo wop release for Record Store Day, might any of that kind of influence find its way into the band sessions?
I like to think that it always has. I love doo wop, rockabilly, crooners, Spector and many other elements of 50s and 60s U.S. pop music, but remember also that those tracks were recorded in 2009, so the Doo Wop cassette may not be the best indicator of our most recent sound. But it is certainly a very good reflection of the kind of music that I like most, or at least the kind of music that I am most inclined to like. So anything I record is likely to betray that on some level, even though it may be buried under several layers of artificial effects and electronic noise!
Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands play the Indiependence Festival in Mitchelstown on Aug 4th, and Castlepalooza Festival on Aug 5th