This past Friday, Plymouth quartet Patrons released their impressive debut album – ‘As Above, So Below’. It contains 10 slices of thoughtful post-hardcore with stylistic nods to their primary influences; Biffy Clyro, Brand New, Thrice and Reuben, throughout. Songs such as ‘The Art of Conversation’ and ‘Listen’ swell with emotion, while ‘War & Pieces’ and ‘Everything Matters’ thrive off epic choruses and angular riffs. With each listen, ‘As Above, So Below’ offers something new, ultimately making Patrons one of the most exciting prospects within the UK independent scene this year.
Having already received plenty of praise, guitarist Mark Hoynes recently spoke to Already Heard to give us a track-by-track breakdown of how ‘As Above, So Below’ came together and what each song is about.
First of the Slow Burners
Although probably one of the most immediate songs we’ve written, originally we wrote this as a much slower song. When we began to write the drums to the song, the whole complex and focus of the song changed; it was a stronger song when it was being led by the rhythm.
We tackled the drums differently than we ever have done before in a studio-setting; we wanted them to sound huge and punchy so we recorded the drums and cymbals separately so we could have more control over the dynamics. To be fair to James, he took to it like a duck to water and nailed it pretty quickly!
Guitar-wise, we new we kind of wanted the song to fall apart with ridiculous delays and tremolo picking before that last riff kicks in and tightens everything back up; potentially a slightly different dynamic for us. Lots and lots of octaves were present for that end riff.
Shapes in Nature
This one was all of about experimenting with the guitar tones. We got lost for a few hours on the guitar tones alone; going in to the studio we knew what we wanted, but just wasn’t sure how to get it. Cue James Bragg (producer) and Pete Miles (studio owner) turning the control room in to a bit of guitar-pedal-lab; stacking pedals one after the other, swapping pedals out constantly, running around with excited looks on their faces! I’m pretty sure this was the song we got to play around with a few Moog’s on, the Moog pedals have been a bit of a bucket-list thing to use for a while.
The Art of Conversation
This song is probably the one song that we can all agree on for being our collective favourite. The song went through a few iterations before it became what you can hear today; conceptually it was a two-songs-in-to one-vibe. We wanted the song to be built around a ‘turning point’ with Danny’s isolated vocal in the middle, I think it definitely typifies our love of the loud/quiet dynamic. We really tried to get the vocals as intimate as possible, no fancy stuff here; just Danny really trying to control the dynamic as live as possible, mic-in-hand kind of stuff.
Vocally, this song changed lyrically and melodically a few times before we settled on what we have today. It was definitely centred around a specific concept lyrically, something that we’ve pained to keep intact despite going through a few different versions.
We’re not really too keen on giving away the whole lyrical-concept, if it resonates with someone, that’s awesome. However, I think everything’s open to interpretation really; if can people can find their own meaning in a song, that’s probably more powerful than anything we can dictate to a listener. Having said that, it shouldn’t be too hard to guess the inspiration.
Without giving too much away, I guess a lot of this record is in response to personal experiences we’ve all been having one way or another; change is a pretty central theme and how we cope with it. Everything Matters continues along this theme, although whereas on previous releases we may have been in danger of drowning in misery, I think we really made a concerted effort to put a bit more of a positive spin on our outlook; Everything Matters typifies this attitude I think, it’s definitely a moment of realisation. Change can allow you to grow and progress, we really tried to reflect that melodically and tonally.
This is the only song where we have any additional instrumentation on. Olly played some Piano on the first verse, which James Bragg messed around with a little bit sonically; it definitely added an extra layer that we were looking for. It’s definitely one of the mellowest moments on the record, well, for half of a song at least.
The song lyrically is a bit of an ‘outside-looking in’ concept, reflecting on our ability to make the right decisions and choices. I think that one is still inconclusive, all you have to do is pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV to realise we’re on a slippery slope…
War and Pieces
This is probably the most visceral song on the record; going back to our roots. The challenge writing this one was that we wanted to combine the anger and attitude of the verses with melodic hooks in the choruses. Hopefully we’ve achieved that, I guess there’s a bit of festering anger in there still.
Army of One
Definitely the quirkiest song on the record. We love weird and wonderful things, and I guess this our “prog” moment on it. When we’re away in the van we’re always fooling around with harmonies, and took this mindset in to the studio with us. We spent a fair bit of time testing harmonies out until we found the right balance, this is probably the most extravagant.
Last of the Quick Thinkers
This song was written as the second part to ‘First of the Slow Burners’. Occasionally, we like to right songs in response to something else we’ve written and this is one of those. Funnily enough, the song is similar to ‘First of the Slow Burners’ in the sense that we centred the song around this driving rhythm, eager to keep the pace throughout.
The title was actually inspired by a friend of ours who is an awesome band, specifically his ability to write songs that are so interesting but memorable and his perceived ability to turn around a vast volume of work in a short space of time without compromising on quality; we came to the agreement that those kinds of people are a rarity nowadays.
This is probably a bit of a departure compared to anything we’ve put out before, we knew that we wanted to end the record with a song like this. Danny originally brought the verse guitar riff in to the practice room and then we built the song from there, it was all pretty organic and quick with this one. We love our harmonies so tried to go all out with the three-part refrains at the end.
In the studio we brought in a couple of different guitars for tones; namely an 80’s Gibson Sheraton that belongs to the studio and was used a fair bit on this song. I think it just brought an all-round warmer and mellower vibe that we were looking for. A lot of the delays were run through some beautiful and quirky gadgets that James Bragg and the studio has accumulated over the years, there was a lot of trial and error but they ended up sounding unlike anything I’ve heard before, legitimate space-rock! Bear in mind these are big old-school boxes; unfortunately not the type that would fit on to a pedal board too easily.
‘As Above, So Below’ by Patrons is out now on Rose Coloured Records.