INTERVIEW: Detroit Tourist Board | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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With an album release due this month that tells a sweet and familiar coming of age story, Detroit Tourist Board’s Patrick Lawrence drew on memories of his youth to reengage with a time when “the world and relationships made more sense”. Listening to 1985 is a transformative experience; the light, folksy instrumentals and narrative lyrics make it warm with nostalgia. Patrick uses these reminiscent tracks to take him back to his home in Detroit, a place he has lived away from for the last nineteen years, eschewing Motor City for Newcastle. “Song writing is a way for me to go back home,” he says. 

Written and performed by Patrick himself, the innate realness of Detroit Tourist Board’s music is evident on first listen. “I was fourteen when I started to realise that the world was not the place I’d thought it was. I used to think the people who were popular were well-liked because they had a special talent or because they deserved to be that way. What I realised after witnessing a lot of bullying first-hand was that this was not the case at all. I actually never got over it, and see it everywhere in politics today. It was a sad awakening.” 

The message of the album is sweet, poignant and though specific to Patrick’s childhood, it’s obviously a theme which resonates with many. “The first time I played Jamie a girl came up to me and told me how she was bullied in high school, too. Her stories were so much worse than mine, but we had the same feeling. Now when I play at the Bar Loco open mic night, she sometimes joins me on stage and sings along with me. It’s a painful song, but it’s strangely healing too.”

I hope that people can relate to it on a human level. I also hope that the people who inspired it take it for the tribute it’s meant to be. Songwriting, I’m learning, is a pretty awkward art!

While Patrick may be the principle songwriter, he’s also managed to rope in some talented friends to help out with the recording process. Primarily recorded by Guy Bainbridge, and also featuring the likes of musicians John Egdell, Meghann Clancy, Kate Edwards and Scott Dolan, the album has been a ‘work in progress’ for some time. “We’ve been meeting up at [Guy’s house] for a jam or to record on a Sunday night for about 10 years now. It’s slow going, but if you’re consistent, you can actually get a lot done. We usually start to record using the real instruments that Guy can play (guitar, mandolin, harmonica) as well as the ones I know (violin, ukulele). It’s only when feel we need something more that we turn to other musicians.” 

The songwriting process itself has been a varied one, as Patrick explains. “Some melodies come from me just jamming on my ukulele on a Friday afternoon or from playing the piano at night. Other times I hear the melody sometimes with words in a dream and then sing it into my phone. Don’t Give Your Heart and Stay Afloat were written this way. Both have choruses that came from strange dreams I had!”

It’s clear the album has been a cathartic exercise for Patrick. “I know the album is really personal, but I hope that people can relate to it on a human level. I also hope that the people who inspired it take it for the tribute it’s meant to be. Songwriting, I’m learning, is a pretty awkward art!” 

Detroit Tourist Board launch 1985 at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Friday 19th July.

 

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