Melody Maker May 5, 1973

Why Patto had to split

PATTO have split: the sad end to a story that should have turned gold.

"We've been together six years, going through all the things we've done, and we've always been on the brink. The press and other musicians have always been kind to us, but it never happened, did it?

"Patto was a band that people either said 'They'll never make it now,' or 'they'll make it soon,' said Mike Patto. " The thing that really gets me is that Patto just fizzled out."

                PATTO: 'We've always been on the brink'
Patto - Mike, guitarist Olly Halsall, drummer John Halsey and bass player Clive Griffiths - split in the last fortnight after almost completing their fourth album for Island. Mike reckons it's the best album they've done, the first that really captures recording rather than just being an extension of their gigs.

An album that was made after it became possible to come off the road and rehearse for the first time. But it was also the first album that featured mainly Mike's songs, and that brought on the trouble.

In the past Patto have always made albums around Olly's songs, and songs co-written between Olly and Mike. It was producer Muff Winwood's idea that they should feature Mike's songs. He felt they were stronger and more commercial - songs that would sell a Patto album for the first time.

"I've started to write more songs on my own now, but there was this weird thing going on. On the last albums Olly has always been in control; there was a feeling that it had been passed to me.

"There's been so much schizo in our songs and Muff thought that mine really stood a chance of selling the album. Our material has always missed with the public at large because it was so schizo, but who knows now?"

For Mike the break has given him more chance to look at himself and see his limitations and strengths and given him a clear direction as to where he should be heading. But as yet, after six years with Timebox (which became Patto), he's unsure of the future.

There's a chance he might be forming a band with John and Clive from Patto. That though, he feels, might be a cheap move: Patto mark two with a different guitarist.

He might join up with Zoot Money and Boz - they've been blowing at Ian Wallace's house - and there's always the chance of making a solo album.

I've got a chance to make an album for Island, and I wouldn't mind making a couple of singles. If I do a solo album I'd like to get guys that I know well enough to rehearse beforehand, rather than spend 5,000 of someone's money hoping to get it right in the studios.

"I'd like to get the Patto album released too, but record companies don't like putting records out unless there's a group on the road to promote it. But If I can make the thing really good, I'll try like hell to get a release on it. It's called Patto, so even if there isn't a band at least there's me, Patto."

Patto sometimes comes over as frivolous, sometimes a trifle bitter. He has a sense of humour and he's loose. Yet he's pretty determined that something has to happen for him now. All his friends live in "luxury pads with three cars in the drive," and he's got a wife and three children to look after. He's definitely not going back to the factory.

"Basically I take my work very seriously. I'm a rock and roll artist if you like, and when you look at a symphony writer who writes and never gets anything published, what I'm doing seems silly, but it is important to me.

"I've been trying really hard to face reality recently and seeing it has helped me out. I'm a pro in this business, I can do my gig.

"I've got loads of ideas, my chords on the piano are getting better and I'm not so bitter in my song writing. I've written some love songs, not moon in June, but simple songs about girls and guys. Before I would have torn them up with embarrassment."

The thing that really gets to Patto is that after years struggling, recently for the first time the band were able to take time off the road and rehearse. It broke them up, made them realise they couldn't keep going on false promises.

Yet for next month they had a tour of America with either Procol Harum or Leon Russell and a short tour of Australia being finalised.

"It's bloody stupid, but we just couldn't keep going up the hill. It had to end somewhere."



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