Since the early 2000s, Canadian group Patrick Watson has built a sturdy fanbase through cinematic, orchestral pop with unusual instruments and illustrious melodies. On upcoming album “Adventures In Your Own Backyard,” out May 1 on Domino, Patrick Watson takes things “back to basics,” returning the group to the root of their sound.
“I think it’s a lot straighter than it usually is, in terms of amassing a collection of instruments,” frontman Patrick Watson tells Billboard.com. “What we tried to do is bare it down to the essentials for us.”
Known for using bizarre instruments, like “playing” a bicycle on previous record “Wooden Arms,” Watson instead looked for slightly less experimental sounds this time around. Still, the instruments aren’t exactly your common fare. “[We used] a glass marimba,” reveals Watson, touching on one of the more interesting sounds on record. “I think [it’s] pretty [but] it kind of sounds like crystal meth!”
Though Watson fronts a band bearing his own name, the group is still a full-fledged group. “It doesn’t sound like a singer-songwriter thing,” says Watson. “It has much more of a band chemistry.”
In fact, the band never meant to get this far: starting as a multimedia project to score a photography book, Watson’s original reception helped push the project to permanent status. “We decided to rent out this old porno theater in Montreal,” explains Watson about the group’s first gig a decade ago. “People were so curious to see what was inside… loads of people showed up! We ended up having our first show completely sold out, without anybody knowing what we do.”
Most recently, fans have found Watson through syncs, on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and commercials like Tropicana in their native Canada. But despite the high profile nods, Watson stays grounded in his approach.
“[It’s something] you hate and love at the same time. You hate doing it on some part because you don’t want people [thinking] you just want to sell your music cheaply and just sit in the hot tub,” Watson points out. “But the flip side… it’s a way to discover music. Maybe people who don’t have as much access to new music or come from more of a TV culture get an opportunity for new and interesting music.”
Patrick Watson has plans for two upcoming videos: one behind current single “Into Giants,” and another more ambitious project. With the album name “Adventures In Your Backyard,” Watson plans to find locals on tour, interview them, and discover their finest memories in their own backyards. “The one thing you do notice in travel is you meet amazing people, and that’s probably the best part of traveling,” Watson admits.