It’s a Thursday morning as Patience Hodgson, one-third of the tight-knit Brisbane unit that is The Grates, and I wax lyrical about primo coffee, the band’s upcoming tour with Straight Arrows and Pleasure Symbols and the new album.
Dream Team, recorded in just 10 days, is a testament to The Grates’ incredible energy and creativity as a unit.
“Patience, I love it.” I confess.
“We’re kind of in love with it too. So the last album was a real challenge. For one thing, the last album was the first album we’d done without Alana (Skyring) we also did it across the bitter New York winter and it was just a hugely isolating experience. And it was just so cold, and there was so much snow and we were working such long hours in this tiny studio and we didn’t have any friends or family over there which we loved because you could just work, but at the same time it felt insanely isolated. When we came back to Australia we were like “I do not ever want to make an album that way again””.
For this album, we want to work with Owen (from Straight Arrows), we want to work with someone that we love, someone with good taste, we want to do it in Australia, we want it to be quick, and fun, and easy and have it in the pockets for the whole time and no mysteries. You don’t have to have the drama and stuff attached to your art to make it good. It definitely doesn’t have to be hard to be good.”
“Good” is definitely a huge understatement. It’s hard to resist the thrumming bass lines, Patience’s vocals – strong at times and restrained at others – and the energy emanating from Ritchie Daniell’s drums and percussion, including but not limited to castanets and bells.
“You definitely heard castanets.” Patience confirms. “So Ritchie actually, he had those castanets given to him. He’s just got this magical bag of tricks, like chains with bells on them. And there’s always these incredible stories to whatever percussive element he pulls out of his bag.
Like you’ve got these bells, and he’s like “oh, these bells I got in India and they’re the bells that they put on the rings that they put through the cow’s nose that they worship in this town” and then he’s got some other ones like “oh yeah, that chain came from somewhere else in Ukraine when I was over in Europe and I just thought they sounded really good”. So you know, he like just picks up these things, he hears these things and he thinks they sound amazing and he just puts them in his backpack and walks around with them until he gets home and I always must think he has the heaviest (bag). I just imagine him like kleptomaniac-ing little bits of junk.”
A familiar setting and the addition of Ritchie Daniell weren’t the only contributing factors in the making of Dream Team. Patience and husband/fellow band member John (Patterson) opened South Side Tea Room in 2012, rekindling their love for listening to music and spending time with fellow artists and musicians.
“I feel like opening the shop was probably the best thing we did for our band. Getting to have that relationship with Ritchie, it’s almost like we had a second marriage. That’s where we’re at now. You got to fall in love all over again and you’re happily married for the second time in your life. And I think that’s the best thing we did for the music.”
Aptly named Team Work Makes the Dream Work, The Grates’ tour with Straight Arrows and Pleasure Symbols is set to be dynamic.
“It’s just awesome. It’s awesome when you can go on tour with people you are friends with and people you love. . I really do feel there’s something when you’ve found the right mix of people and you have got that unity – it does help. You’re just going to weather so many more storms because you’re all so tight-knit. And I feel like that’s our whole little tour.”