Interview: Patrick Galactic
Leading up to the release of his first solo album, we sat down with Patrick Galactic for a quick chat. The local singer-songwriter and active member of the Seattle music community gave us an inside look at his songwriting process, some of the musicians he’s working with, and his upcoming plans.
SMN: Okay, we have Patrick Galactic.
Patrick Galactic: Hello.
SMN: How are you?
PG: I’m good. I’m busy and just promoting my release and just kind of trying to get people keyed into what’s going on, but it’s been really cool.
SMN: You have a new EP out. Tell us about that.
PG: It’s called Running From The Sun. It’s my first solo album. I’ve released a couple songs here and there, but this is my first really cohesive effort so, very exciting. Also terrifying because I’ve never been a solo artist before, and on this recording I basically worked with one other person. I have to own all of the decisions. There’s no guitarist guy to hide behind and be like “yeah, I mean it’s good but that guy could have played that differently.” You have to just put it out there and hope it connects.
SMN: You used to be in a band called Death by Stars. Tell me about the transition from being in that group to what you’re doing now.
PG: I’d always written stuff on my own, and a lot of the stuff for Death by Stars I would write on an acoustic guitar and then bring it in and we would come up with this different arrangement. Death by Stars was amazing, I loved it, and then by the end we kind of all hated each other. It was just best to part ways and obviously I wish the other two the best.
After that, I really didn’t know what to do, so I just kept taking shows, playing by myself and playing these other songs that I had been writing that Death by Stars wasn’t working with. Then I took a couple songs that I had solely written from Death by Stars and just started playing, didn’t really know what I was going to do, didn’t know how I was going to set it up. Really ultimately, people slowly started responding to it. I think “white guy up there with an acoustic guitar,” people are like “oh God, been there done that,” but I kind of found an audience over time.
My thing is I don’t like to do the same thing over and over again. Death by Stars was over, and I wanted to take the things that I had learned to do in that band and apply them in a different way. I ended up doing this kind of like dark Americana thing. I never intended to make Americana music, I never intended to sound folky or anything. It just kind of worked out that way. I’ve grown into it, and I have an awesome band who plays with me now. It’s the best level of talent I’ve ever worked with. It’s very surreal, but it’s really cool.
SMN: With that being said, give us 5 words describing this new EP.
PG: Dark. Textural. A little bit creepy, so creepy. Sincere. It’s two-words, but open wound.
SMN: We’ll count that as one.
PG: Yeah okay, that’s now a word, open wound.
SMN: What is your favorite track on the album, or do you have a favorite track on the album?
PG: They’re all my babies. I think the track that I was happiest with… When I came in all that I had was the acoustic guitar and the vocals, and so me and Madison Levine from CTPAK Records just kind of imagined a whole world around these songs. The track “Pull the Pin” just kind of best captured the essence of what I think I had wanted from the beginning.
When I hear that one I’m like “yeah, I think we really got that one.” That’s what I was going for. I’m happier with this than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s like the closest I think I’ve ever come to capturing who I imagine myself to be. So yeah, super cool.
SMN: Do you plan to take this EP and turn it into an LP eventually?
PG: It’s dependent on the artist, but I really feel like EPs are pretty cool. My ultimate vision would be maybe to make another EP in the next year, and then just merge the two and make one EP side 1 and one EP side 2 and do a vinyl.
I think people have such a short attention span, and an even shorter attention span for new artists. That’s everybody, including me. When somebody’s unknown or an unproven entity, I think people are like, when you give them 12 songs, they’re like “uh, that’s a big commitment.” When you give people 5 songs… The EP is 17 minutes long. They’re more apt to just listen to the first song and see what they like and keep going.
I love a great album, but I just think EPs are where I want to go until there’s really people just dying for a full-length. Even then I don’t know if I’ll do it.
SMN: I think the EPs are the way to go, I think a lot of bands are doing it.
PG: Yeah, there’s some bands that I’ve talked to who just want to do singles.
SMN: There’s actually quite a few.
PG: Yeah! I think for me, I understand that. But how do you even make any money doing that though? I haven’t figured it out. People are also becoming more interested in video, and so if you’re going to just release singles, if you make a video for each one and you space them out over enough time, I could see why that makes sense. For me, I’d like 5-6 songs and I’ll check in with you again in 6 months or a year or whatever. I’m already planning my next EP. I would like to record again in maybe another 6 months.
SMN: What is your process for song making then?
PG: It’s changed a lot over time. What I’ll generally do is just start out with an acoustic guitar and a melody. I favor the idea that, for my music anyway, an arrangement is supposed to happen around the vocals. What I’m saying, to me, is the most important thing. I look for a killer melody, a good chord progression to go underneath the melody, and now I have this band.
I have Brenden Smith who plays viola, Justin Pascua who plays drums, and for the release show we’re going to have a guy who’s in a band called Devil Hunt Me Down, Ian Sides. I don’t need to really tell them anything, I’m like “here it is,” and they just create this whole environment around it and it’s like “whoa!”
The process has changed a lot. When I record my own stuff I’ll lay down what I have, but what I like to do is try to find ways to… The guitarist is kind of a placeholder, and trying to come up with some spooky sense or a cool beat or whatever, but I don’t do that as much anymore because I have the guys working on it with me. They aren’t on the album because I started making it before I was with them.
SMN: Ahh, okay, that makes more sense.
PG: There’s no viola, no Brenden on the EP. They’ll be on the next batch, and we’re definitely trying to cook up ways to… I say viola and I think people get an image in their mind, but Brenden runs his viola through this huge effects rack, and so it’s a lot more psychedelic and ambient than people would imagine.
SMN: You mentioned your release show, give us the details on that.
PG: It’s going to be November 17th. We’re playing at the Sunset, and we’ll be playing with A Breakthrough in Field Studies and Among Authors, who are both fantastic bands. They’ve both just released records of their own, Breakthrough was last month in October, and Among Authors was at the end of August. I couldn’t be happier about the bill.
It’s also two weeks before the album officially drops on December 2nd on CTPAK Records, but we’re going to do the show a few weeks early because I just have been a part of the Seattle music community for so long and had so many people along the way kind of invest in me, I wanted to do something special for them. It’s cool, if you live in the area it’s a great way to… It’s kind of a thank you to everybody as much as it is a look at me.
SMN: Last question: If you’re stranded on an island, what is one film, one album, and one book you would hopefully have with you?
PG: Film, I’m going to say 2001. I freaking love that movie. It’s so desolate. I think it might be the exact wrong film to have if you were isolated, but I think it’s just a masterpiece. I love how vague it seems at first and the more you watch it the more you’re like “oh, weird!” It just tells you something without spelling it out for you, and talks a lot about mankind’s evolution and how that might affect the future.
As far as albums, that’s probably the hardest one because I listen to so much music. I’ll come back to album.
Book, I would say Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. Kurt Vonnegut basically says “the world is completely fucked,” and that’s kind of hilarious. He’s like the grandpa I wish I had. He’s like “yeah, it’s a shit show,” and it’s kind of hilarious. I love the way he plays with time. In the 90s when Pulp Fiction came out and they played with timelines, I thought that was the most revolutionary thing I’d ever seen, and then you read Kurt Vonnegut from the 60s and you’re like “oh, people have been doing that for a long time, okay.” I’m just a huge fan of his, and that’s my favorite book.
As far as album, I’m going to be lame and just say Sgt. Pepper’s by The Beatles because I think that was the first album that really captured my imagination in a way that was just beyond bands being two guitars and drums and vocals. They use so many different instruments, and it’s so colorful. I feel like I can see that record when I’m listening to it. I think that’s a good way, probably, to describe what I try to do. Try to make music that’s visual almost. You can see something when you listen to it, and Pink Floyd is kind of that way too. I try to borrow from those places sometimes.
SMN: All right, well thank you for chatting.
PG: Thank you, my pleasure.
Interview and photos by Sunny Martini