Sounds  December 25, 1971

Mad warning 
from Patto

A WARNING from Mike Patto to all would-be deps in his band: "Just this, if we ever have a dep, they often go away afterwards slightly mad."

Patto was referring to the fact that for an incomer to step up on stage with the quartet is indeed a tricky business. They are so cocooned with each other and their music that for a stranger who is not familiar with Patto’s very own country / jazz / blues / rock and roll music, life could become a bit nerve-wrecking (finger-breaking).

Of course Mike Patto and his band -- Ollie Halsall, Clive Griffiths, and John Halsey -- have been together for four years, so by this time a certain togetherness, tight if you like, is to be expected.

MIKE PATTO: resents copyists.

A couple of weeks ago Patto had their second album released on the Vertigo label. Their first came out a little over a year ago and was immediately given excellent criticism by reviewers. How did the first album do?

"Well, it did everything it was supposed to," Mike said a bit cryptically. "It got the name around and sold reasonably well, especially on the continent.


Musically it was a very honest album but really it wasn’t what we put down -- sound-wise. We just don’t sound like that but all the right notes were coming out. The new one (‘Hold Your Fire’) has much more of a live sound about it and I’d say it’s tasteful."

Wasn’t the first one tasteful?

"Yeah it was tasteful but this is more tasteful. See, the songs that were on ‘Patto’ were written before we even knew we were going to record an album but this time everything was fresh. We knew we were going to record the songs and we kept that in mind when we were writing them. Hell, some of them were recorded the day after they were written or the same afternoon."

In January next year Patto set off on their first American trip. Mike says it’ll be mainly a promotional tour. They’ll be playing no super-important gigs. Did he have any notion as to how Patto would go down in America?


"That’s very hard to say because none of us have been there before so we just don’t know what to expect. We’ve got a few friends in bands who’ve been a few times and they keep saying our stuff would go better in the States than it does here. I just don’t know, though. We’ll wait and see."

Apart from Patto, Mike and guitarist and vibes player Ollie Halsall have a job in Keith Tippett’s amazing Centipede project which, according to both Mike and Olly, has achieved a tremendous sense of brotherhood amongst the musicians involved.

Patto are a band who do not suffer musical fools gladly. They mock any kind of copyist and cite some of the newer rock drummers as culprits who Mike refuses to recognise as doing anything constructive: "Copyists are people who haven’t much to say," he says finally.



"It’s a bit weird at the moment because the young kids in bands haven’t anything like the Chuck Berry thing to go through. So a band just forming say are pretty limited as far as having something good to go on is concerned. But I suppose there’ll always be some really smart kids who are never stuck for an idea."

The last time I talked with Mike Patto a year ago he gave the impression of being a very embittered and cynical musician. It may have been a case of debut album blues then but last week Mike reckoned that now they have proved themselves, they have become much less introspective and just a bit more tolerant. "Catch a Patto gig sometime," he says, "and we’ve got some ace ones coming up." -- R.T. (Ray Telford)

Nitpicking:  The photo caption is misleading.  The photo is Ollie, of course.


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