INTERVIEW: PAT GROSSI OF ACTIVE CHILD

3O6A9016-122-Edit

Supporting the release of the EP Rapor, Active Child is back in New York at Bowery Ballroom (last night) and tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Today, Pat Grossi stopped in to the OAK Photo Studio for a quick interview about the different cities he grew up in, touring traditions, and his favorite songs to play live.

ACTIVE CHILD
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY
8 PM

OAK: Thank you for making time to meet with us. First off, are there any questions you hate being asked?
PAT GROSSI: Haha. So many. Probably where the name ‘Active Child’ comes from is a good starter. Why do I play the harp is always an interesting question as well.

OAK: Yeah, like of all things to play…
PG: Yeah. Like why is that such an important question?

OAK: Okay, so no name questions, and no harp questions. Moving on! You’ve lived in a lot of different places ranging from New Jersey and Colorado to Los Angeles, where you’re currently living. Environmentally, how have these places influenced your music?
PG: I’m definitely strongly influenced by whatever environment I’m sitting in, writing in, recording in, whatever it is. A lot of the first music was written in Denver, in the winter, so I have really strong memories of being in my room at the time with snow coming down and that definitely had an effect on the sound. It came out with sort of a glacial pace to it. The new EP was highly influenced by the house that I live in, this crazy mountaintop retreat that my parents bought. It had this real energy to it, and I think the music translated that energy in the same way. But even with the first album, I left home and went up to Big Sur for a few months and just like stayed in a cabin. I’m aware of the environmental effect on me, so I try to put myself in space where it will inspire me to write something and take me somewhere.

acreal2Pat wears the OAK tube tee in grunge (now in stores), and the OAK cargo shorts.

OAK: Speaking of the new EP Rapor, what kind of departures or evolutions do you see yourself going through with this versus your earlier releases?
PG: I think more than anything it was a reflection of being on the road so much. I spent a lot of time thinking “Okay when I get home what am I going to do? How do I translate this experience that I’m getting of being on the road?” Realizing that I would be touring again, I went home and I had a lot of songs written that were heavy emotionally, but I also wanted to have some music that would push people around a little bit and possibly dance, and move their bodies and not just their emotions. So I think I got home and I just wanted to write some things that were a little bit bigger and fuller, or even more pop-ish which is why I think I reached out to people like Mykki Ekko and Ellie Goulding.

OAK: What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
PG: I always enjoy “Johnny Belinda” which is from the first album. It’s always been one of my favorites. I like playing “Silhouette” which is the last song we play in the set, and we did it last night with strings and it was the first time I could really hear the full thing. So yeah, those ones really stand out to me.

OAK: For someone who hasn’t seen you live before, how would you describe the live Active Child experience to someone uninitiated?
PG: Really I think you have to be there to get it. More often than not I hear that people hear the record and get a certain idea about it and I think the live show is something very different. For me I try to be as honest as I can. I realize a lot of the songs are very heavily emotional lyrically and instrumentally, and I want people to know it’s real for me.

OAK: What are some of the coolest things you’ve brought back from a tour?
PG: As far as souvenirs, our tradition for US tours is always get little “curios” which are weird objects you get in the Southwest. On the road you frequent a lot of really random gas stations and service areas and they always have the most insane collection of magical fantasy animals and taxidermy craziness they’ve put together. This one guy just combined a bunch of animals into one, like a frog’s head and a snake’s tail, really strange shit. Every tour we get one or two and cover the dashboard with our collection.

OAK: Is there anyone you haven’t collaborated with you that you’re kind of dying to?
PG: For me, I like a lot of different producers. A producer I love is Johnny Jewel who does the Chromatics’ stuff. He put out an album under the name Symmetry which were all these vignettes for like a film score or something. I was listening to a lot of it when I wrote the record. If I have someone else’s track to work from I sort of go in another direction which is exciting for me. Vocally? I keep name-dropping Karin from The Knife in hopes that one day she might see something. I know they did something with Shannon from Light Asylum, whose got this insane voice, but yeah I’m obsessed with The Knife.

acrealPat wears the A.OK double layer coat, the OAK slouch hoodie in bone, the OAK torque tee in bone and the OAK athletic twill pant in fatigue.

OAK: What are you listening to now?
PG: Let me think, the new Bill Challahan and Cass McCombs records. I think they’re both incredible songwriters and weirdos in general. I met Cass when I wrote my first record. I showed up at the producers house and Cass was sitting there eating cereal and I was thinking “what the fuck is happening right now?” It was my first day ever in a recording studio and Cass is just like “Hey, what’s up,” in a robe eating cereal. But yeah those two have been on repeat for me.

OAK: And as for your connection to the hip-hop world… are you sick of talking about this?
PG: No I’m fine talking about it, but I think it gets overhyped at times. I’ve read stuff like “his dad was the CEO of the hip-hop label,” or weird shit about him being a rapper, but he was really in sales. But I was a huge fan of hip-hop growing up. Back in the day that was my music. I loved the instrumentals and beats and was just really attached to that world for a while.

OAK: What are your thoughts on the state of hip-hop today as opposed to the “golden age”?
PG: To be honset, I’ve kind of fallen off a little bit. But people that stick out for me? I think Danny Brown has a different approach, has a unique style and doesn’t feel like he needs to fit a category. I miss… I mean artists like Wu Tang Clan, you listen to that stuff and it’s so weird. Their wordplay was so next level. Half the time you can’t understand what they’re saying, but it’s captivating. They’re referencing all this literature and films and you don’t see that very often anymore. I did actually get Earl Sweatshirt’s album and he fits that realm for me. He’s a great rapper. He doesn’t blow his top and talk a bunch of shit about how he’s the greatest. I think the Odd Future guys are really talented too. Like I said, I’ve kind of moved away from it. I was really into hip-hop for a while and then one day I discovered Sade. But these days it’s like one day I’m listening to Cass and the next day I’m listening to Earl.

Tags:

OAK HALLOWEEN ANTHEM: KYLIE MINOGUE AND NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS “WHERE THE WILD ROSES GROW”

VIDEOAK: HOW I WEAR IT – CURSES / WHAT YOU HEARD: SAFER AT NIGHT MIX BY CURSES