Interview with Oskar’s Drum
As we already trailed in our ongoing series, First Glances, Patrick Fitzgerald (Stephen Hero, Kitchens Of Distinction) has teamed up with Yves Altana (Invincible, Wonky Alice, ChameleonsVox) to form a new Manchester music venture, Oskar’s Drum. Despite their heritage the duo are aiming toward an edgier, art-rockier musical landscape citing Magazine, the Banshees, Bowie and Scott Walker as signposts. “And inevitably a little bit of Kitchens as it’s me” said Patrick.
Debut long-player A CATHEDRAL OF HANDS is released on November 7th and is available to preorder now. I was able to hold a nice little Q&A with the boys prior to release date.
Enjoy the interview:_
A collaboration between yourself and Yves makes perfect sense to me having been a fan of both of your music. It fits but how did it actually come about?
PATRICK: I met Yves in Manchester at an early Stephen Hero show. But we didn’t meet up properly until I moved back from Ireland and he moved back from France. He got in touch and suggested meeting up. I was in search of new collaborations – perfect timing!
Are you a band or a ‘project’?
PATRICK: An art beat happening, which may happen for a while, or stop tomorrow, with or without other people, with or without clear direction or manifesto. Bands are those ‘funny little plans, that never work quite right’ to quote Mercury Rev.
Can you expand a bit more upon what Oskar’s Drum sets out to be?
PATRICK: Oskar was started as an initial scream of our youthful selves. What you hear on ‘A Cathedral of Hands’ is an accumulation of shared interests and obsessions colliding and being celebrated. John McGeoch in Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees, David Bowie, our 70s selves dragged up to date and sieved through our old bodies. The newer songs sound more like the aftermath of this confusion, after the collision. A new and singular voice for Oskar’s Drum gradually comes to the fore…
Patrick you are in a rich vein of collaborations recently. Prior to that you were virtually solo during the Stephen Hero years. Is that a conscious decision or simply a question of circumstances?
PATRICK: Absolutely a decision. Bored of myself. Five albums of solitary Stephen Hero was enough. I will make more Stephen Hero music, but I needed this period of combative collaborative work to reignite me.
If you could have collaborated with anybody ever, who would you choose?
PATRICK: Frank Ocean, Nina Simone (nightmarish though it would be), Kurt Weill and Richard Strauss.
Let’s talk a bit about Bowie. I know you were both huge admirers of the man, musically and culturally. How have you been coping in the aftermath? Were you able to play the records in celebration? Or has it been too difficult? I think I’m still processing it myself, even this long afterwards.
PATRICK: My day job deals with mortality as a constant so his death is as sad as anyone’s for me, but with a rich life and legacy to celebrate. I’m probably playing more of his records now than I did last year. In the car are the constants of Low and Blackstar.
YVES: I don’t think I have ever cried so much for losing somebody that I have never actually met. I was devastated. And to make thing worse, his death was announced a day before my birthday. What a miserable week that was!
What was the verdict on Blackstar?
BOTH: Tremendous. Visionary.
What do you think of the current music scene? Will we ever see the like of David Bowie again? With the political climate taking a turn toward the dystopian, is the time right for another post-punk era?
PATRICK: I listen to such a variety of music and feel overwhelmed by how much fantastic work is out there. We are spoilt with the advent of streaming and the wealth of radio stations. So much choice – but what to buy? I’m currently having a bit of a soul and R’n’B phase: Frank Ocean, Blood Orange and Beyonce’s last record. Brave wild souls all three. Folk is healthy too – Martin Green, The Unthanks. Contemporary classical music fills the house regularly. Then there’s catching up on all the recommendations on music sites. Some stuff I feel I just don’t understand either because I’m too old or I don’t have the receptors to understand it. And some is not good at all but must be there – Grayson Perry was great on this subject in his Reith lectures, talking about the need for the Art Schools to have skips for crap art out the back so people could just keep on trying and trying as eventually gems emerge.
The current swing to the right will possibly stir up some confrontational art. Who knows? I have little sense of youthful anger – the loss of a central focus as the internet divides and divides means for me I feel very isolated from this. Where do the angry young kids hang out? What are they going to do? Is music a part of it at all? Movements like LIBERATE TATE and books like PLAYING FOR TIME: MAKING ART AS IF THE WORLD MATTERED (links to both below) give me hope. But it’s not music is it?
What will constitute success for Oskar’s Drum? What’s the success criteria for you and what does the immediate future hold for the band?
PATRICK: Not dying just yet…
[sic] thanks Yves and Patrick. A CATHEDRAL OF HANDS is out November 7th on Ragoora. Purchase via the link below.