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INTERVIEW: Ex Strangelove singer Patrick Duff who plays three nights in North Devon

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: March 13, 2014

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THOSE who remember alt-rock Nineties band Strangelove may remember their brooding frontman Patrick Duff, writer of top 40 hit Beautiful Alone. Some 16 years after the band split, he's a completely different kind of performer.

Patrick is now solo, and his acoustic folk ballads are a far cry from Strangelove's poppy foot-tappers. Since 1998 he has embraced a stripped-down, earthy approach both to music and to life – touring with the WOMAD festival, hanging out with African storytellers and even living in a forest near Bristol for two years. But making music has always been his greatest passion, and the route of his life has shaped it.

"After Strangelove split it was a really weird shock," says Patrick, "from going around touring everywhere, and all the rest, to that not being there anymore.

"But I ran away from all that, and in doing so got closer to myself. While living in the forest, especially, I experienced a place where the atmosphere changed dramatically from day to day. Nature's changes corresponded to the changes within me, so I really got to know myself. You don't get that when you're surrounded by concrete because the environment never changes."

In recording his latest album, Visions Of The Underworld, Patrick chose a cottage on Dartmoor owned by composer Nigel Shaw.

Originally the attraction was the peace and quiet, but he began to find that the sounds of nature wanted their own place on the album.

Patrick said: "Last time the music was much louder, but this time we could hear birdsong and natural sounds on the recording.

"At first we tried to block it out but then I thought 'hey, what's wrong with it? I haven't got a problem with this!', and we encouraged it. Nature took over."

Although the music of Strangelove is so different from his solo material, Patrick still has admiration for his fellow band members and rates the songs highly. The group's marketable image, even, was not so unattractive to him.

In the Nineties, he feels, angst was at the forefront of popular music, and being someone with no shortage of melancholy he fitted in well. The band's split was, he believes, more to do with his addiction to drugs and alcohol.

"The main reason for the split was my addictions," Patrick says. "I took all sorts of stuff to deal with nerves, but in the end it was too much and stopped me from doing what I love best. I had to escape from all that, but when I did I truly found myself."

The culmination of these findings, to this point in time at least, is his latest album.

His present three-month tour of the UK, entitled The Land's End Tour, will feature songs from his album plus a mishmash of material from his back catalogue – he is not the kind of performer to stick to rigorous setlists.

As for future plans, Patrick has only one main goal for now: to produce an album, or at least record some tracks, at home.

"Unlike a lot of artists I'm not computer savvy," he says, "but recording at home is something I really should do, because sometimes in my house I am able to play a song with an incredible intensity that I'm never able to anywhere else.

"I want to catch these moments when they come. And they come when they want, they don't give a toss about what we want. Inspiration is a wild child, it doesn't care. I want to be ready for it."

Patrick Duff plays three Beaford Arts gigs:

Fremington Quay Cafe on Thursday, March 13, 7.30pm. Booking: 01271 268720.

Yarde Orchard, Peters Marland on Friday, March 14, 7pm. Booking: 07789 267017.

The Yoga Barn, Lincombe, Lee on Saturday, March 15, 7pm. All tickets: £8 (adult), £6 (child); £26 (family). Box office: 01271 866743. Also tickets at www.beaford-arts.org.uk.

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