The typical adjectives used to describe singer songwriters don’t really apply to Patrick Park. The contemplativeness and over analysis that are so often behind the heady brand of music Park proffers doesn’t appear in his creative process. Indeed, his decisiveness is rare, if not unprecedented, in so introspective an artist. He doesn’t agonize over his music; he just makes it. He doesn’t purr out the lyrics; he sings them in full voice, putting everything he’s got into every line. Park’s verbal precision recalls Leonard Cohen, his forcefulness rivals that of Neil Young and the Dylan of “Positively 4th Street.” His songs teem with dramatic tension, vivid character sketches and fitful visions of inner turmoil. Not surprisingly, Park declines to reveal the specifics of his lyrics. “The most beautiful and magical thing any song has to offer, is how it affects the listener, how they relate it to their own life,” he explains. “I also don’t know that I would want to open myself up that much and actually say what these songs are about. It’s hard enough to put them out there sometimes. All of them were written with the hope that there would be a better day. I don’t know if that comes across or not.”
The Colorado native grew up outside of Denver surrounded by words and music: his mother is a published poet, his father had a deep love of the folk and blues traditions and played songs on the guitar around the house, which rubbed off on Patrick at an early age. “I’ve written songs since I was a kid,” he says. “There was nothing else that I really wanted to do—I was obsessed with it. When I first started writing songs, I would show my dad and he would say, ‘That’s great, but it’s not a song.’ He pushed me in some ways. My mother definitely had an influence—appreciating the power of words. I started playing in bands when I was in junior high school, and more than any musical achievement, it made me excited about doing it. I pretty much decided at the age of 13 or 14 that this was what I wanted to do.”
Park came to Los Angeles in 1999 and worked odd jobs, including a stint as a stock boy at hipster clothing store American Rag. “That job was actually good for me because I was alone in the stockroom all day long; I had a lot of time to think, and I wrote a lot of songs back there.”
In 2000, when Park had a batch of songs, he decided to demo them. He lacked the money to go into a studio, but that didn’t deter him: “I ended up recording in the back of a store that a friend’s girlfriend owned. I sang all the vocals on my knees inside of this couch-cushion hut that we built because there was a cricket in the room and it kept bleeding into the microphone. It was August and it was hot and horrible.” Later that year, Patrick had a chance run in with producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, OK GO, Earlimart) and was able to give him a copy of what came to be known as the “basement tapes”. “ I didn’t expect to ever hear from him again, but he called me the next day and asked if I had any more songs.”
With the album under way, Park began playing solo shows in LA, and the local press immediately reacted. His fellow artists took notice as well, as he opened shows for the likes of Richard Buckner, Gomez and Alfie, while Beth Orton handpicked Park as the supporting act on her 2002 U.S. tour. Hollywood Records also took notice, and signed Patrick.
Park released ‘Loneliness Knows My Name’ in 2004 and immediately hit the road, touring with David Grey, Liz Phair, The Polyphonic Spree, The Thrills, My Morning Jacket, Granddaddy and more. As the album drew praise from critics, Patrick won over crowds show by show with his intimate, nuanced live performance. Recently, Patrick has returned home to LA and has been spending his time writing his next album. The follow up to Loneliness Knows My Name will be released on Curb Appeal Records this summer…