Sounds April 29, 1978 (page 22)

Putting cats in liquidisers is wrong

Thought For Today from Patrik Fitzgerald, the Patience Strong of punk

"I used to live in a squat that was a total ruin, a mess, and people just wouldn't go into my room at all because I just got dumped into some room that was just - horrible and sort of deteriorated in the period I was living there. I thought it would be quite funny to write about it because I thought there's probably quite a few other people that live in similar houses too."

Patrik Fitzgerald writes songs and stories that arise from small, (imaginary?) incidents in his life, that mean something to other people too. Then he sings them on stage, just him and his acoustic guitar. People usually like him but tension arises from the fact quite a few don't, so he mostly plays support to very different kinds of music and is, to put it mildly, unusual. For example, his unusual story 'Jarvis' came about this way:

"I was on the underground one day and I'm just a bit paranoid of things like undergrounds, because you get really claustrophogic. I thought, I don't like this, it's really crowded. I just thought up a little story about somebody that went around pushing people on the rails. He also puts cats in a liquidisers. I met somebody in Manchester who was talking about all the horrible things he did to cats so I stuck that in the story, I thought - ugh, what a horrible person."

(Jarvis own macabre end is even better but you'll have to go and see Patrik to find out what it is!)

ON THE basis of one gig (at the Marquee) I though I had his number: an angry possible slightly arrogant young man who laid verbal waste to large chunks of the population. Wrong again. He's honest, intelligent, and gentle, and explains his gig persona as a matter of chance or mood.

"I can always get in the perfect mood to do this kind of songs because tehey were written in exactly the way I felt. I have to be in that kind of mood on the stage to do them like that. But it's not me all the time . I've got a split personality anyway!"

That must be useful at times - a solo artist iss in a particulary vulnerable position on stage in front of people who may well be insensitive to your deadpan irony. What about hecklers?

"Yeah, I've got used to that kind of thing. I just let it go. Like people say, if somenone shouts something insulting to you, the worst thing you can do is shout back - although I'm guilty of doing that quite a lot."

The apparent cruelty in songs like 'The Bingo Crowd1 turns out in some ways to be " a way, the only reason I write songs like that is a protection for myself against becomming part of that kind of lifestyle, and hopefully warning other of that kind of thing. I think those sort of things are just a total waste of time; they're just brainless."

He's most effective when you don't quite know whether to laugh or not ('Jarvis' is the prime example); he sets up a balance between opposing moods and creates ambiguity.

"Yeah, I think that's it. A lot of the time I've found that a certain song getsa different reaction in different places. I think that's one of the things about my stuff; it seems you can take it one way or the other. Because even the ones that are supposed to be funny are not really particularly funny, they're quite sad in their own way. yeah, I think that's a good thing because people at least have to think about whether it's sad or funny.

"In a way that's a protection for me because if they've got any intelligence they don't just throw things at me. They sort of stand and actually think about it, which is great. I've always liked people that made people that made people think so it's nice to do a similar thing.

"I don't really think that any of my stuff's particularly funny. I mean it obviously is when people hear it - obviously , it can be read as either funny or sad. When I write a song, I tend not to think about it too much and I just write it down line for line. It's a bit of a fault really but they just come out that way."

I SAW Patrik at Small Wonder Records, home of the shop and label of that name and their owner, Pete. Patrik became involved with Small Wonder last November when he was acting at the Soapbox Theatre in Stratford.

"I just get fed up with being other people and I thought it would be nice to have a go at being myself on stage; I'd wanted to do that before but never had the confidence, so I just decided to have a go at it, put a tape of songs together and stuck it through Pete's door. I'd been coming in there and he told me about the label and I thought I'd have a go at being on it. So I did a tape in the hope he'd like it and he did."

Fifty-two gigs and one singel, 'Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart' later, he's unwilling to sign with a major company because he believes he'd be pressured into changing his material and going for a bigger production. He doesn't like the ideas of big companies anyway and avoids any business dealings. Neither does he plan, as yet, to use a backing band.

The dates he did recently on the Buzzcocks tour were a good way of getting to more people.

"The reaction I get is really mixed. I did a gig last week when all the way through the crowd was really noisy and drunk and sort of shouting for the main band and I just didn't want to play anymore because I thought how can they hear what I'm singing? That was at Nottingham and it seemed pointless playing. At the end of it, I got three encores which was a total turnabout! I've had some baffling reactions."