Unless you live under a rock, you've probably at least heard of Patrick Walker's bands Warning and 40 Watt Sun, two juggernauts of the doom metal genre. Based in pure emotion and catharsis, 40 Watt Sun's first offering, The Inside Room, leaves nary a dry eye amongst their listening base. Be sure to catch Patrick and 40 Watt Sun on their US tour this September!
It is said there is a lot in a name, so what is behind the name 40 Watt Sun?
Not a lot. I took it from a song by Marillion called Emerald Lies. Marillion have always been my favourite band - since I was eleven. And thinking about it now, it may have also reminded me of 60 Watt Silver Lining by Mark Eitzel; which is a wonderful album, I might add. I thought everyone knew this by now anyway - it seems to be the first question I am asked in every interview I've done over the past three months!
I've noticed that 40 Watt Sun's album has sonic similarities with early 90s alternative rock, namely Red House Painters, Bedhead and the like. Was this intentional?
No, certainly not intentional; though I guess inspiration rubs off on my songwriting from all over the place. I've got some of Bedhead's releases though I have not listened to them yet
Who or what is Kristiania and how much of an overall effect did she/it have on the entire feel of the album?
Kristiania is the city of Oslo. I have strong memories connected to my time there. I started writing the words on the half-empty plane coming back to London, sitting staring out of the window. That's a very direct question and hard to answer.
As featured on the "Bridges" EP and in some live videos, it's been made clear as to how easily your songs can be translated into a singer-songwriter-styled folk setting. Do your tunes normally start off in such a fashion? What is your songwriting process like?
Again, that's a hard one to answer. I'm not that conscious of it. Usually I have a small idea and I keep working at it for weeks on end; often months. Sometimes it becomes something bigger and something better. Soon a song starts to shape around it. The lyrics usually come last as they don't come easily to me.
I always write on an acoustic guitar. Sometimes the songs translate well when we play them heavy; sometimes they don't and I keep them like they are.
As a trained Shakespearian actor, how has your thespian career affected your career as a musician, if at all? What about vice-versa? What is your favorite theatrical production of which you played a part on stage or production crew?
I'm not a trained Shakespearean actor at all. I have to wonder where this comes from because I've never said such a thing! Every other interview I do has a similar question and I just don't understand where this piece of biographical information is found!
The inescapable gear question: How do you get you signature tone?
To be honest with you, I didn't know I had one. The guitar sound on The Inside Room is unlike anything I've had previously; and in all honesty when we play a show I use whatever equipment I'm given. I just play around a little till I find something suitable. Sorry to disappoint!
Though "The Inside Room" is undeniably an emotional "downer" of an album, I can hear hope both in the lyrics ("Can you see me shining?" in Open My Eyes, to give an example to the readers) and in the "big picture" atmosphere of the album. Am I looking into this correctly?
I truly never intended any of it to be emotionally "downer" - there's no negativity in the music and I'd never want to project "negative" emotions. I suppose there are things in there that you might call "melancholy" and, sure, I guess there's some pain in the music but there's a lot of joy and love andlife in there too. Just like real life - no one adjective describes any real emotional experience. I'm not talking about yourself here but I get kind of bothered when people talk about the songs being "depressing" as if misery is somehow "conceptual" to the band. That's something that I know lots of other groups do and I think it's a pretty awful thing. I just kind of sing about what I know.
I've been reading on the 40 Watt Sun page about plans for a US tour. Are you excited to bring your music across the pond? Care to divulge who your touring companions might be? ...how about a Chicago show?
Oh yes, we're ending the tour in Chicago. No idea who we're touring with yet though. But that's all being taken care of by the US promoter. I'm not too excited. I'm just holding back till it actually happens.
What drove you to start making music? Does that initial drive still exist/do you feel the same way about music that you did when you started?
No, absolutely not. When I started making music, when I was 16, my drive was that I wanted to be doing the same as my heroes. I wanted to be doing what my favourite bands were doing. But I'm not even the same person I was when I was a teenager, you know? I've different interests now, different beliefs, a different understanding of the world and I view art differently. I feel more compelled to make music now and I am more serious about it but I think probably nothing of my initial drive remains.
What does music mean to you overall?
Honestly, that depends on what mood I'm in or which day you ask me. It's just about the only thing I am good at. And it's probably the main source of all my joys and all my troubles.
Where do you see 40 Watt Sun going over the next few years?
I have no idea. I see as far ahead only as the next album. I remember now we were touring with Reverend Bizarre in 2006 and they were saying they had all their next five albums already planned out and I was thinking, Jesus, I don't even know what I'll want to be doing next year let alone five albums down the line. So best to let things happen and see where things take us I guess. As I said, there's nothing conceptual here. I feel no need to adhere to any formula. We'll see what happens.