Interview: Pat Temple

Pat Temple
Pat Temple

(September 2017) In 2015 Pat released, ‘Day For Day’ and carried on the swing tradition of his 90’s cult hits ‘Salamander Bones’ and ‘Playin’ Havoc With My Heart’. He describes his music as inspired by Western Swing, Jump Blues, Rockabilly and Roadhouse Soul and he has become a recognized commodity on the Canadian music scene. During his career he has performed Massey Hall, The National Art Gallery and The Ontario Place Forum plus countless festivals. He has received press across Canada, airplay on the CBC, ink in The Toronto Star, and has appeared live on Much Music. With thirty years of performing under his belt, Pat shows no signs of slowing down. I talked to him about his musical roots and upcoming gig at Showplace’s Nexicom Studio….

Mb: Hey Pat, how’s life? I hear you have a show coming up at Nexicom Studio?
Pat: Ya, I’m really excited about that! I put out a vinyl record and it’s going to be released at that show. It’s a recording I did in the 90’s and I think it’s one of my best albums. A lot of people say it’s the best thing I ever did. It was the crescendo to the end of the century for me, and the musicians I was working with at that time. A lot of great players on it. Terry Wilkins on stand-up bass, Spencer Evans on clarinet and Hammond organ… it was all recorded on tape… analog, old school, you know? Everyone’s making vinyl records these days but they’re just converting their digital files. This is actually a real vinyl project because it was tape… it was mastered by Peter Moore. I don’t know if you know Peter Moore from the Trinity Sessions fame. He recorded the Cowboy Junkies on one mic! He’s the audiophile guru. He just won a Grammy award last year for the restoration of some of Garth Hudson’s tapes. Garth was the guy recording The Band, their practices and stuff. Her was the geeky guy who always had the tape rolling. So they went through them all and with Bob Dylan’s guidance, they made a record out of it.
Mb: So he mastered the album your releasing. Recorded where?
Pat: It was recorded at two different studios. One was called Fun House in Kingston and the other was Rogue Studios in Toronto, which back in the day I actually helped build. Both those studios I worked on. I was into building studios and I was involved in building Peter Moore’s studio as well. So I recorded at Rogue Studios and traded for recording time and that’s how the album got finished off. Then Peter Moore, I helped build his mastering suite and he mastered the record for me. I put it out on CD back in 2000. Now I’m putting it out on vinyl because it really sounds amazing. It’s a re-issue of One Song at a Time. So that’s what this gig is all about.
Mb: So it was your second CD?
Pat: I have two other CD’s that I just got the rights back for. They were on BMG Records. In the early 90’s I was signed to BMG. My first record I made out of my pocket was called Stone Boat. Do you know what a stone boat is?
Mb: Something that sinks?
Pat: (laughs) That’s the metaphor. Actually a stone boat is the skid that’s pulled behind the horse or tractor to roll the stones up onto, to move them over to the hedge line. The ones I worked on were flipped over car hoods. So that’s where the title of that record came from. I made it out of my pocket and then I got signed and sold the master to BMG records. That was through Michael Timmins, from the Cowboy Junkies. Those guys sold a million records and he cut a deal with BMG New York to scout acts in Canada. I was one of those acts. So I made two records for that label…
Mb: And did some touring?
Pat: Ya, toured our asses off. BMG’s press department was fantastic. They really went to bat for us. Back then we were signed at the same time as Platinum Blonde.
Mb: Must not of been easy finding a niche market for Country swing with all those hair bands dominating the scene.
Pat: It was an impossible dream. We got tons of CBC air-play but we never got any commercial air-play at all. Americana didn’t even exist. The whole Americana radio scene in the states now has actually surpassed New Country, with the very kind of music I was playing 30 years ago.
Mb: You were ahead of the curve, or 50 years behind it!
Pat: (laughs) I guess so! 50 years ahead, 50 years behind. That should be the name of my next record.
Mb: So what got you into Country swing? Did your parents listen to it?
Pat: I grew up listening to big band swing music because my dad was a piano player. He was an Air Force guy and I grew up in Kitchener and he and his buddies used to run all these dances and Big Band events. Back then people would show up with their dancing shoes in shoe bags! I still remember that, and they’d put the stardust out on the floor and everyone would dance. It was just spectacular. So I grew up loving all that kind of music. I wasn’t really interested in Country music at all until I heard Gram Parsons and Gene Clark and the Burrito Brothers and went “Holy smokes, this is really cool shit.” Then I went out to Alberta with a couple of guys and worked on pipeline construction and began to play guitar. Everyone out there knew all these country songs, so I started learning all these Hank Williams songs and Bob Wills songs from these guys working in the pipeline camp. It was either play guitar or gamble your paycheck in poker games. I stayed away from that! I did not get into the gambling game at all. So that’s how I got into Country music and later on when I came back, I worked in Northern Ontario and started doing the folk clubs around Ottawa. I began writing songs when I was in Alberta. I was 19 or 20 years old. Then I came back and lived around Ottawa. There was a really great songwriter’s scene around there. While I was living in London Ontario in the 70’s, I heard Willie P. Bennett and he had a big influence on me because he was a fully developed artists by the time he was 21 years old with those three really amazing albums he did; Hobo’s Taunt, Start Out Clean and Blackie and the Rodeo King. Those records were a big influence for me, from the singer songwriter thing… and the way he sang. Then I got into listening to Fred Neil. Fred Neil was a folk singer from New York City. He kind of started the whole folk scene there in Greenwich Village, and Bob Dylan came along and played harmonica for him in 1961. He wrote that song Everybody’s Talkin’ but he didn’t have the hit with it. It was Harry Nilsson that had the big hit for the movie the Midnight Cowboy. So I got listening to Fred Neil because of David Wiffen and hearing his voice, and Willie P. Bennet, and I gravitated towards that baritone folk singing voice. So that’s how I got into Country music and swing and song-writing. When I was 14 I was playing the clarinet, cause I really love swing music, and my brother played the guitar and showed me a couple of chords and right away I wrote a song. The words kinda fell off me. A weird thing.
Mb: Are you shopping your songs?
Pat: I’ve gone through the process. I went to Nashville a few times. You almost have to move down there. I played across the desk at 9:00 in the morning for publishers back in the 90’s when I had my record deal, and that’s the toughest gig there is! Playing across the desk to a guy in a suit! They said “You’re doing something really different from anyone here” and I didn’t know how to read that. Is that good or is that bad? (laughs)
Mb: So are you looking to get busier with your career again?
Pat: That last record I put out called Day For Day, I put that out in 2015 and that kicked started my career in a really big way. It got great response and I did two major tours just with a trio, Rob Foreman and Kyler Tapscott, stand-up bass and guitar. They’ll be with me at showplace with Al Black on drums.
Mb: And the new vinyl and old CD’s available at the show?
Pat: I’ll have the new vinyl… it’s going to be a great night!

Pat Temple performs at Nexicom Studio
Friday September 15, 2017

One Tree Island Wingwalker 1988
Stone Boat BMG 1990
Connecting Lines BMG 1992
Hi Lo at Massey Hall Wingwalker 1993
Cold Cuts Wingwalker 1994
One Song at a Time Wingwalker 2000
Hi Lo Silver Wingwalker 2012
Day For Day Wingwalker 2015