Patrick Duff was the front man with the critically-acclaimed Bristol-based alternative rock band, who released three abums on Parlophone, ‘Time for the Rest of Your Life’ (1994), ‘Love and Other Demons’ (1996) and ‘Strangelove’ (1997).
After Strangelove split up in 1998, Patrick travelled the world as a solo artist, and worked with a variety of other musicians, including most notably the then 81year old African storyteller and musician Madosini, whom he lived and worked with in her native township of Langa in Cape Town in South Africa.
Since returning to the UK, Patrick Duff has recorded two solo albums, 2005’s ‘Luxury Problems and this year’s ‘The Mad Straight Road’.
Pennyblackmusic spoke to Patrick Duff about ‘The Mad Straight Road’ before a one-man solo gig at the Betsey Trotwood in London.
PB: I want to start off with a few Strangelove questions. Was Strangelove your first band?
PB: How did you meet?
PD: Well, the others in the group just knew me from parties, just going to parties. At that age everyone was putting them on. They knew me from there and I played my guitar one night at one of them. We were all out of our heads and that was it. We took it from there.
PB: At the time that the band split you were at the height of your career. Why did you chose to split at that time?
PD: I think it's just life. We make plans but life has its way with us.
PB: Did you feel at the time you split that you had said everything that you had to say at the time with that band?
PD: (Pausing before answering) Fucking hell. I don't know. Maybe not, I think at the time, yeah. At the time we needed to go our separate ways. You often don't know what you have got when you’re there. It's like the Bob Dylan song, ‘I Threw It All Away’. It was that kind of vibe, that we didn't know what we had. We needed to do our own thing though.
It was like going up in stages in levels of success as well. We needed to go up to the next level and we didn't and I think that's what ended the band. Because when you are making music, you are taking steps forward, up and up, and we went through each door. When one door didn't open...
PB: Was it like a slam in the face?
PD: No, but the door didn't open, and I think if it did we may of stayed together but I don't know if that would have been a good thing.
PB: Was the first solo album, ‘Luxury Problems’, easy to write?
PD: I have always written songs. I have hundreds of songs that I have written that have never seen the light of day. It's just the kind of person I am. In the past I have been quite dreamy. In Strangelove I had people around me that were talented and practical, and got me to go along with them, I brought myself to the band though. I was unique and so were they, because as well as being talented Alex Lee (guitar and keyboards-Ed) was very intelligent and knew how to go forward.
When I was in Strangelove, I was in a dream world and I carried on being in a dream world, but in this dream world there was no one pushing me, so that's why when Alex came to work with me again after Strangelove had split up that's when that happened. I said I had these songs. He said that he had some spare time and we did ‘Luxury Problems’ together.
PB: I assume you do music full time. You haven't got a day job.
PD: No, I haven't. No.
PB: You seemed depressed when you were in Strangelove. You seem to be much happier these days, which is good thing.
PD: Yeah, I am.
PB: Do you feel that it is because you are out of the limelight?
PD: I don't think it's because I'm out of the limelight. It's nothing to do with that. I think life forces you to change and adapt and I have done that and I have survived. That is why I'm happy. I think the older I am then the better it gets. It's not like that for everyone. Some people don't like it.
I fucking love it, getting older. It's great. My songwriting is getting better. Everything is getting better.
PB: Was ‘The Mad Straight Road’ easier to write?
PD: No, I write songs all the time, It's just about circumstance. I could do ten albums. It's just about the right circumstances coming about. I write all the time. I have always and I always will and I just need to get better at putting them out. That's all. There's no plan to it.
PB: Did you record with Madosini on this album ?
PD: Yeah, but it didn’t really work out. There were loads of reasons why, She had been ripped off in the past and didn't understand recording. She came from a remote village, so she couldn't get her head around recording. She was suspicious of studios, so the vibe changed. We had a great vibe when we played live, but when we got in a studio, she changed. She just put a wall around herself.
PB: That's a shame. Apart from Strangelove, you have been in Moon and put out a single with them and played a few gig. You have also either worked with or been in bands like Don Mandarin, Applecraft And War Againit Sleep. Is there anything I have missed out?
PD: I was in a band called the Rosabella Collective. It was me and four eighteen year olds. It was fucking brilliant. We were together for two years. I was like 40, 41. We did a few gigs around Bristol, That band could have been the biggest. They were as good as the Beatles. It was amazing.
PB: Why did you decide to call the new album ‘The Mad Straight Road? Is that title about the life and the road ahead?
PD: You have got it. Yeah, that's the road I'm travelling, I think that title should be left though as a mystery because there is a lot in it. I takes in a lot of stuff that is important to me and If I try to explain it then it will take away the mystery.
PB: What are your future plans?
PD: I am just going to keep on gigging. I’ll be gigging now until I die, until I'm in the soil. I am going to be doing it. I have decided this is what I am going to do.
PB: Thank you.