Dan Patlansky: ‘I was keen to get a sound that was closer to my live performances’

Dan Patlansky. Picture Adam Kennedy
Dan Patlansky. Picture Adam Kennedy
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South African blues guitarist Dan Patlansky plays at Leeds Brudenell Social Club on November 27, as he releases a new EP on the back of his latest album Perfection Kills. He spoke to the YEP.

Tell us about the new album...

“Well it is called ‘Perfection Kills’ and I was keen to get a sound that was closer to what my live performances are. This is my ninth album and I decided to produce it myself as I am the one constant that has been on all the albums and the live shows, so I feel I know what the sound should be, and I can have it a bit more raw and reflecting what people see live. The name of the album reflects my feeling about not over-producing my music! I’m very pleased with it and luckily it has been getting a good reception, so I am really looking forward to the tour now.”

What about the band for the tour? Will there be new faces?

“I will have Tom Coetzee on keyboards who has played with me for a while. And then I’m really lucky to be teaming up with the guys who backed Mollie Marriott on drums and bass when I toured with her. I asked Mollie if she’d mind if I asked them to back me on this tour and she was all right with it, so I’m really looking forward to working with them, because I have seen how good they are!”

You have had some guitar issues in the past (Dan thought he had lost his favourite 1962 Stratocaster to floods in New Orleans). What will you be bringing on tour?

I have just finished putting together a partsocaster from all sorts of bits of other Strats, and I have really fallen for it – I’m really pleased with the sounds I am getting from it.

Dan Patlansky

“Well funnily enough I have just finished putting together a partsocaster from all sorts of bits of other Strats, and I have really fallen for it – I’m really pleased with the sounds I am getting from it. So that will be joining me on this tour. I normally have a spare Strat I keep in storage in London as a back up, for when strings break or if anything goes wrong. I love the sounds of Strats and they are so versatile.”

If you could choose three guitarists to join you on stage, who would you pick?

“Do they have to be living? No? Well top of the list would be Stevie Ray Vaughan. I love what he does, and he has been one of the biggest influences on my playing. Then David Gilmour (from Pink Floyd). He plays beautifully and each note is so exact and carefully placed, always in exactly the right place – the most tasteful place. When you hear his stuff it always just sounds so ‘right’. The third person would probably not be a guitarist actually. I would pick Oscar Peterson, the jazz pianist. I listened to a lot of jazz growing up and Oscar Peterson was just so incredible.

“To be fair I think that would be a pretty weird line-up though, so I’m not quite sure what we’d come out with. I think it might need to be split into three different sessions!”

Would Rory Gallagher feature in the mix?

“Wow! Yes. I was introduced to Rory Gallagher by this older Scottish guy in my teens. Back then you couldn’t access lots of music in South Africa, you couldn’t just head into a store and pick up stuff by people like him But when I was lent his stuff I listened to him pretty much constantly for the next three years – he was simply incredible.”

You played with South African musical legend Johnny Clegg. What was that like?

“He was kind enough to ask me to come and play a solo for him on one of his tracks about 10 years ago. Obviously he is a really important figure in the South African music scene, and I was determined to do something really special. So I practised a really intricate solo and turned up about three hours early so I could really perfect this solo I had in mind for the song and then when Johnny turned up to listen to what I had done he wasn’t impressed. I’d probably been trying to be too much Oscar Peterson and have jazz intricacy when he wanted the raw, much more straightforward playing I normally did. So I recorded something much more live and less intricate and that was what he wanted. It was a really useful bit of learning for me and good experience!”

What do you get up to outside of music?

“I think it is really important to have something to take my mind off music and I love extreme 4x4ing. South Africa is a great place for taking a machine out to really out f the way places that people can’t normally access and seeing what I can do.”

And if you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

“Wow – that’s tough! I’ve been a musician since I was 16. I wasn’t great academically and certainly not a straight As student, so I think I’d probably be working behind a counter somewhere or something regular...”

Dan Patlansky plays at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on November 27. danpatlansky.com