Thursday, August 27, 2009


When a new act catches my attention it, like most, is all about the music and sound they make. However for Australia's The Grates, it is not just the music, but how much fun they are having doing what they do. I came to find out about the band during their residency at Piano's in downtown New York City. I unfortunately missed the band and because I saw they sold out each and every single show, I had to look them up to find out how such a small band could sell out a venue for such an extended period of time. After take a few listens, I understood why. The band has been compared to No Doubt meets Yeah Yeah Yeah's in their native Australia, however, they have a bit of a punk edge to them. I had the opportunity to speak to the band's beautiful and charismatic singer Patience Hodgson. We discussed the band's residency in New York, acclaim back in their homeland and their new record, Teeth Lost, Hearts Won which will finally be released in the US next month. Take a look at my interview with Patience....

Australia has given the world some great artists. From AC/DC to The Living End to Silverchair to Wolfmother. How do The Grates fit into the legacy of Australian rock?

Patience Hodgson: Ha, we don't! We're a different pattern, cut from the same majestic cloth. That's as close as we get. Those bands are more socks and jocks, and we're more capes & bras.

What are some bands from back home that the US has not been exposed to yet and we need to know about?

PH: Oh I'd thought you'd never ask...
1) Violent Soho - Rocking the suburbs with their nerd hearts, long hair, and grunge aesthetic. This band is a must see. Expect them on your shores later this year or early next.
2) Dappled Cities - cerebral guitar pop songs for the young at heart and wise of mind. Earlier this year, they too resided in NYC to write, record, experiment, and came away with a killer album 'Zounds'. Also you must check out their Alphabreaks for Disney New Zealand - amazing!!!

Is it at any point awkward to play massive festivals around the world, headline gigs and then go back home? What is the feeling like being away for so long then returning back to Brisbane?

PH: Well, I love my job. There's total awkward moments but they also count towards your adventure as a whole. For eg we just had a mini tour where we went up to play Hillside in Guelph, Canada, then played a show in Toronto which we left immediately after as we had to get back to our third gig at Piano's the next day. It was a long drive, pretty exhausting cos I'm a driving pussy but Alana & John got us there. Anyways, after the Piano's show, at around 1 am when we were taking all the gear back to our room, a tyre blew. I guess awkward is not the best word to describe it but it's the most polite. It made our tour more adventurous. Part two, being away from Brisbane feels like I'm living on a new planet and my old planet freezes up while I'm gone. It's at a stand still while I'm away. Totally impossible, but that's how I feel. My little brother's gonna be a teenager when i get home. Weird.

Your style is very unique and eclectic. Who are your influences?

PH: Bank balance, that is my biggest influence, and fun. You can do whatever you want on stage so why not?! One time I dressed up as Bat Girl so I guess Yvonne Craig, the original bat babe, was once a very strong influence.

Because the nature of your sound has no much variety, what is the songwriting process like?

PH: Weird, like angry magic. We're trying to make it more like retro magic cos anger is so crappy. But in the most explainable sense we either write as 3 or as 2. All depends on the day & who's available. We also take a very, very long time.

You worked with the great Peter Katis (Interpol, The National) what was that experience like?

PH: Awesome! He has such a great set up & excellent ears, and a really good assistant. He's really good at making things sound high end & organic. I think that comes from his set up, which is great equipment, in a normal, homey room. He also has all the bands stay with him during the week too which I think melds the whole process together & helps blur the lines of professionalism & let's everyone just relax & get on with it.

I found this remark on your website and fell in love with it. You had compared your music to "Where the Wild Things" monster, why is this?

PH: Making an album is scary. And while you're making it, it can feel much bigger than you. Sometimes you just look at it and it's a stranger, a big hairy monster! Then you blink and realize it doesn't want to eat you, it's soft and furry and just wants to play.

You recently have been doing a residency at Piano's in New York City. What is that experience like, staying in one club in one city for a long amount of time?

PH: Great! I loved it. I am so sad now it's over. I'd be happy if I could do that every Wednesday for the rest of my life. The audience was always great, the Pianos happy hour burger is always spectacular & I love the room. It's fun sized.

Has spending time in New York City influenced you as an artist?

PH: I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Lord I hope so. I hope some of your dirty, relaxed, social personality rubs off on us. I'm scared of the winter though.

What can we expect next from The Grates?

PH: Shows and an album release. I can't wait to have 'Teeth Lost, Hearts Won' made official. We're playing Mercury Lounge soon, come out & boogie!

Special thanks to Patience and Brady Brock for the interview!

Video for "Aw, Yeah" (Above) / The Grates live at SXSW 2009 performing "Burn Bridges" (Below)