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Posted October 12, 2006 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

Patrick Krief (The Dears)

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I had the opportunity to talk with Patrick Krief, the guitarist for The Dears who is also a rising solo artist. The very interesting topics of conversation included his current projects, childhood aspirations, and even Morrissey’s snobbishness. Also included are MP3s of his solo material. Click below for it all.

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-I understand that The Dears have had dozens of members since their
formation in 1995. When did you join the band, and how did you become a
member?

Well, I joined about three years ago. George (drummer) and I were in a
band together (a side thing for George I guess) and he gave me a copy of No
cities Left the day it was mastered. I didn’t like it. I listened to about
20 seconds of the first three songs and that was about it. At the time I
wasn’t interested in anything that was recorded post 1974. About a year
later, George invited me to see The Dears at Café Campus (a venue in
Montreal). I checked it out and was totally blown away! There is no question
in my mind that the dears’ strongest element is live performance.

During that period Martin and Murray were turning up to a lot of my gigs, I
didn’t know what to make of it, but as it turns out they had their eyes on
me for a while. The only obstacle being that I was a full time student. They
wanted a seriously committed member, no weekend warriors.

About a week after I dropped out of school, they asked me to try out. I
tried out the next day (having spent the previous night trying to learn the
songs drunken from a night of Karaoke with George) We hit the road three
days later. It was pretty fucking Intense! 2 rehearsals then a tour.

-Being a multi-instrumentalist, what was the first instrument you picked
up and really took to the next level?

Well, without a doubt guitar is my baby, I’m a much better guitarist than I
am at anything else. I started when I was ten. I only got into other
instruments later on. Although a part of me always wanted to be a drummer, I
grew up living in apartments so drums were out of the question.

-Have you always wanted your career to be dedicated to music?

Without question! I mean, I went through a little phase called “reality” a
while back. I got all heavy into school and a “back up plan” Then I realized
my back up plan was taking over my life! You can never succeed at anything
if you have a back up plan. My dad always tells me, “Avance ou Creve”, it
means move forward or die! And that’s the truth in any career, you have to
be at risk of starvation if it doesn’t work. Then you have no choice but to
make it work. Dropping everything really helps artists get their shit
together. If we don’t have deadlines or pressure to be productive,
perfectionism, procrastination and laziness will kill us.

The idea of sitting at a cubicle or being a doctor, or any of that stuff is
scary to me. Music is constantly on my mind, I’m drumming on my lap,
humming, dreaming up lyrics, planning the next record, whatever it is, its
music on my mind all day long, with intervals of sex in between. I can
barely focus on what people are saying when they talk to me. I have a
massive case of A.D.D., the only thing I can focus clearly on without a
feeling of emptiness is music and of course sex. But even then, if a good
tune is playing in the background and the sex ain’t that good, I may drift
haha. So yeah, I guess I had little choice but to make music a career, that
or porn (joke… )

-How would you describe your solo material in comparison to your band
projects?

I guess its every emotion I get from the band projects good or bad, on a
massive dose of steroids! I mean, this shit is personal! And its hard to let
it go.

The joy of making music from every musicians angle: I get to be the drummer,
bassist, you know.. every single sound emitted on that record came from me,
and not just on a control level, on every level, its pretty rewarding. It’s
a massive synergy of all my personalities working together for a change.

The Fear: Any time an artist puts their work out there, they expose
themselves. But there’s always something to hide behind.. like “oh, you
don’t like the production,, well the producer fucked it up, or oh you don’t
like the singer/drummer whatever” Nobody ever comes straight out and tells
you that you suck! They criticize the band as a whole, and an easy defense
mechanism is to blame the other elements. But with this kind of record, I
have nobody to blame. I could maybe pin some shit on Murray and Clement for
the mixes,, yeah that’s it,, if you don’t like it, it’s the mixers fault,
and the mixers can blame the mastering dude, or we could all collectively
tell anybody who doesn’t like it do go fuck themselves hahaha…
Tell them to fuck off while I silently wonder with extreme neurosis why they
don’t like it.

The pressure: Now the pressure is on man! I’ve never sang a note in front of
anybody. When I wrote the Lesley Lane songs, the only people that heard me
sing were in the band.. then I had Paul sing the stuff, which was painful on
so many levels. I mean the guy is fantastic singer, better than I’ll ever
be, and I love that record, but fuck! its like writing a diary and having
somebody read it to an audience.

Playing live doesn’t bother me one bit when I’m a guitarist, I love it! No
pressure, I’m confident in the guitar area. But the thought of singing in
front of people makes me want to vomit! It’s fucking terrifying, but,
whatever man, if I have to do it I will, and like anything else, I’m sure
I’ll get used to it (I just have to keep telling myself that).

And finally, on a musical level: well it’s a lot more stripped down. Simple
arrangements adding up to make a bigger picture. Not quite reggae, but as
far as the arrangements go, I was going for that kind of puzzle (every
element is pronounced and simple to create a larger sound). The largest song
has 18 tracks. Most of album is under 16 tracks which these days is rare.
“Take it or Leave” also has a much more mellow vibe to it. The kind of songs
that are hard to present a band with, out of fear they might get bored
sitting out half the song, or not playing on it at all. It definitely feels
like a solo record.

-Many journalists have compared The Dears’ general sound to Morrissey. How
did it feel to actually open for Moz?

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint anybody by saying this. But I can’t deal with
Morrissey.. I never liked his music. I do hear the occasional reference in
The Dears, but man, I think people are just lazy, They need to put a label
on things.

Opening for Morrissey was a sad sight man. Seeing what success can do to
people is pretty painful. Being asked to leave the building when he’s
crossing the corridor, or being told to not look directly at him made me
sick!

Sometimes its better to not meet people you admire. The whole band was
pretty upset by the whole encounter. Luckily for me, I’m not a fan.

-With many of your projects being from Canada, what are a few of your
favorite local bands from the bustling Canadian music scene?

Well, do I really need to be the umpteenth person to mention the arcade
fire? Well, fuck it! Arcade fire! Great record, one of the best albums I’ve
heard in years. I’m super excited to hear the next one.

Other Montreal bands would definitely include: Patrick Watson (amazing live
show, and the new record is pretty sweet), Land of Talk, I used to work with
Elizabeth Powell, and she’s a fucking amazing singer! This new girl Jade, I
went in to lay a guitar track on her EP and I definitely dig her sound.
Besnard Lakes, Stills, Stars, Sam Roberts,
There’s a lot of good stuff brewing out of this country, but I don’t always
have my ear to the ground, so I’m sure I’m leaving out some great stuff.

-Your other project, Lesley Lane, sounds great as well. When was this
formed?

Lesley Lane was put together in June 2005. The drummer (Billy Anthopoulos)
and I have been making music together for 13 years. He’s a sickly talented
musician, so he was the first person in mind for that project. Then I got my
cousin Andre Bendahan to play bass, and Roberto Piccioni to play keys. We
didn’t have a singer, so we tried a bunch of people out. Paul Edwards came
into the picture in September 2005.

Lesley Lane is on some sort of Hiatus right now. The moral is pretty low
with me being on the road constantly, I can’t say I blame them. I really
don’t know what’s happening with that band. I don’t know who’s in or out,
and I don’t think making this solo record helped anybody’s enthusiasm.

-What is the current status of The Dears?

Fucking Busy!

-Has your relationship with Murray Lightburn (Dears frontman) impacted your personal
musical style?

Well, you are what you eat. And Murray and I have been on the same diet for
3 years. (Poutine and Jameson hehe). In all seriousness, there is a definite
change in my music since I’ve joined the dears, and a definite change in the
dears since I joined. We’re influencing each other in a serious way (whether
it be musically, or socially). Murray and I are very close friends, and we
have a huge amount of respect for music and each other’s writing, despite
people’s predictions of us hating each other, we got along right off the
bat.

He was one of the main reasons I made this record (take it or leave) He’s
always encouraged me to sing my own songs. So there is a huge influence
right there, making the record. As far as the sound goes, I’m still pretty
amazed at how the records we make sound nothing alike. The influences are
extremely subtle, obviously you can hear my guitar style all over the new
dears record, and I think there’s some definite influence Murray has had on
my songs, although I can’t pin point exactly what it is, I know its there
and I’m sure he hears it. It may just be, that ostracized nature in us, the
black man, and the Jew, writing personal lyrics that stem from conversations
in which we brew each others paranoia that anybody that treats us with the
slightest amount of hostility is a Nazi or a white supremacist hehehe. At
first we both thought the other was paranoid. With time though I’ve seen the
shit first hand, I’ve lived it myself, cause people always assume I’m
Italian and hence feel free to Jew bash with me like we’re talking about
sports or something. And I see Murray get shitty treatment from fucking
racist everyday! So living closely with that man has without a doubt
influenced me as a whole. Qui S’assembles ce resembles. (Those who assemble
resemble)

-Though both are excellent, Gang of Losers seems to be a lot more upbeat
than No Cities Left. I understand some happy events concerning marriage
and birth occurred during the creation of Gang of Losers. Did that have
anything to do with the general mood?

One Look at that baby’s face, and you’ll know the answer to that one. There
is hope! I think we all have issues with what goes on in the world. But
there’s only so much bitching that can be done. We’ve observed and pointed
out the problems, now its time to dream up solutions, even if they are just
dreams. I know it sounds cheesy, but we are without a doubt, cheesy people,
and we’re all dreamers. It would be redundant to keep bitching, cause there
is a balance in life, we can’t always be miserable, we’d have blown our
brains out a long time ago of that were the case. We have our dark moments,
trust me on that one, but people have the totally wrong impression of us.
We’re not a bunch of gloomy intellects that sit around sipping wine and
debate global issues, I mean it does happen. But most of the time we talk
about Sex in explicit detail, we make fun of people including ourselves, and
we just have a morbid and politically incorrect (to put it lightly) sense of
humor. Most people get a massive shock when they hang out with us. Check
that new school shit at the door! It’s fucking lame. So to answer the
question, I think that the dynamic we have as a bunch of drunken kids in
summer camp (which is what touring feels like) has had an impact on the new
record. We’ve loosened up a little. There’s humor on this record. To me
“Whites only Party” is a comedy. To me the idea of Murray with mud and blood
on his face is hilarious!

-The Dears are particulary well thought of in the music blogosphere. What
is your opinion on music blogs and general online music publicity (such as
myspace)?

Well there’s a shit load of smoke screen in all this online business. I
mean, a lot of it doesn’t translate to anything tangible. But many times
people have come to gigs saying “hey, I downloaded your record, now I’m
buying it here to support you guys” And many people heard of Lesley Lane
solely based on our myspace. I do believe it to be a good thing for bands,
but I also fear that people are losing their attention spans, too much too
fast! God knows it’s happened to me. I just recently put away my IPOD, I’ve
gone back to my disc man. I was just incapable of listening to an entire
record knowing I had 2000 songs at my fingertips. It’s like asking a fat kid
to not stick his hands in the cookie jar.

I’m not one of those who’s gonna blame downloading or shit like that for
the demise of the music industry though. I blame it all on shitty bands with
one good song and an entire record of filler. Who should have to pay for
that? Labels should focus on bands that could actually write and record a
full proper album without editing the fuck out of it with some pro-tools
session geek.

Blogs are great if people actually read them, and if the people who are
writing them are actually competent and cultured. It starts getting scary
when one publication (and we know there’s at least one out there) can single
handedly fuck you or make you with a single good or bad review! That just
sickens me. I think albums should be reviewed by a committee, an average
grade if you will. Some prick that’s having a shitty day, and doesn’t
personally relate to your record should not have that kind of influence on
the masses, and vice versa if they love it. I think online options like
myspace make it easier for people to hear it for themselves without cost,
and form their own opinions.

-If you had to choose, which song (from any project) are you most proud of?

Right now, I’m digging “we’re all whores”. Probably cause its new, but yeah.
I think the point came across on that one.

-What is your favorite album released so far this year?

I really don’t have one right now, I like the new Patrick Watson, but in all
fairness, It’s the only new record I bought and listened to this year.

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Patrick Krief – We’re All Whores

Patrick Krief – Worries Are Over

Patrick Krief – Black Empty Hearts

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The Dears – Lost in the Plot

The Dears – There Goes My Outfit

The Dears – The Second Part

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Patrick’s MySpace

The Dears – Official Site

Lesley Lane MySpace

Do you need a new guitar for your indie band?   Are you going to buy a fender strat? If so, the web is the perfect place to buy a new instrument. They have a massive selection of acoustic guitar, electric pianos, and electric guitars for sale.

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].