Pat Heath is an experienced and talented musician who has been in the business for over twenty years. He’s worked and toured with many bands, including Tyketto and Furyon. He now lectures at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music and works with ESP guitars in product promotion, as well as writing for Guitar Techniques magazine.
I recently reviewed his excellent new album, “String Theory”, which was released to pledgers earlier this month after a successful Pledge Music campaign. It’s due to go on general release soon. After following his Pledge campaign and listening to the album, I invited Pat here for a chat about his music and current plans.
Interview with Pat Heath
Your new album “String Theory” is an instrumental jazz/rock fusion collection. What gave you the idea to create this type of record?
I actually came up with the concept in the middle of the night about 18 months ago; I love science and physics and had been writing demos for ESP guitars for product demonstration videos, and decided that this was a great opportunity to build a record from it. One night at 3am I had the idea, and by 5am the entire concept; titles and even artwork ideas were done!
Pledge Music is becoming a very popular way to fund the production of music these days. How did you find the experience of making a record via the Pledge Music route?
It’s been really useful for me to work with Pledge as they gave me a platform not only to sell but also to promote the record. The concept allows those who want the record to potentially say ‘I’ll take a copy’ and pledge for whatever amount they feel is appropriate, but also get it first before the general public.
Yes, as a music fan, I also think it’s a nice way of being able to support artists and also have a glimpse behind the scenes at how the music is made 🙂
The titles of the tracks on “String Theory” are all scientific terms. What was the thinking behind that?
I watch and read a lot of physics and astronomy documentaries and books, I don’t understand it!… but I love it. Black holes, gravity, atomic energy… all of these things seemed like a great idea in terms of an album concept. I loved how the names were also linked to music, “Nuclear Fusion” was one of the first tracks I wrote, and “String Theory” came shortly after. There’s a track called “Monatomic” on the record, its in mono and it’s very short and small sounding! That kind of thing.
How long did it take to put the album together?
The album took 18 months all in all. I started it in August 2014 and it has just been released. Was a long process and really took it out of me. I was really drained after the process and had a couple of months of feeling really low as a lot went into it financially, creatively and emotionally and it kind of burned me out, but that’s cool. My brother said to me, ‘Pat, what’s worth doing if it’s not difficult?’. I’m starting to enjoy listening to it again now.
Haha! Sounds similar to writing a novel. I’m at the burnt out stage with my latest one at the moment! 😉
Do you have any favourite tracks, and if so why are they your favourites?
I really like them all (if that’s OK to say about your own music!). “Nuclear Fusion”, is a bit of a favourite, but also the last track, “Quantum Mechanics”. I was very shaky about that one as it seemed that it might not come out at the level of the others, now I just think it’s a great album closer. I had a keyboard player, Tom Phelen come in and just blow gold all over the record; he did some really great solos and jazz progressions on it. Those sessions were done in a day and by the end he’d just created something so special for me.
“String Theory” has been released to fans who pledged in the Pledge Music campaign. Do you have a general release date yet?
They will be manufactured at the start of June, shipped after that.
What formats will the album be available in?
CD next and then digital streaming. I might to a limited Vinyl run.
Your new album features ex-Tears For Fears drummer Michael R Bowes on drums. How did the collaboration come about?
Michael is my dear friend, and I work with him lecturing in the Brighton Music Institute. We worked together in young people’s services for a while, he was playing with Nelly Furtado and Joss Stone then, and doing sessions on and off, and I heard him play. He’s got a great sound and I always wanted him on one of my records. Originally I was going to program everything, but he stepped in at the last minute and learned it all in a matter of days and recorded the whole album in two 9 hour sessions!
You’ve been a musician for over twenty years. What have been some of the highlights of your career?
I think that playing with Peter Frampton when I was 18 on the “Frampton Comes Alive II” tour was one. It was the first big thing I’d ever done even if I did get paid £5! Also, going to the NAMM show this year and getting to play alongside Gary Holt was a biggy for me. Exodus was always a big Influence and I love their new stuff too.
If you could change one thing about the music industry today, what would that be?
Wow, that’s a hard one, but I suppose that I would like TV corporations like the BBC and Channel 4 to really open up more to new music, and to start breaking new acts like they did on the Whistle Test those years ago. Music is part of a lifestyle now, it goes with the hair and the shoes and the designer jackets, and I just think that It could come back round to being about the quality of the players and skill level rather than ‘who’s got the prettiest face’ or ‘who’s bought their way onto the Made In Chelsea’ soundtrack. Do I sound like a bitter muso? Hahaha! Not for me, more for my students and the great new bands coming through.
LOL, no you don’t sound bitter. It’s a valid point. I totally agree. There are so many talented independent musicians I come across, especially since doing blogging, and they just aren’t getting any recognition.
Do you have any tips for bands/musicians who are just starting out in the industry?
Bear in mind; if you are learning to play or sing for the sole aim of celebrity and wealth, music is not truly in your heart, you are merely a contestant in the entertainment industry.
What is your preferred format when buying music these days?
Streaming for convenience on the move, Secondhand vinyl and CDs. I like physical best. I still love the radio. I listen to the Jazz stuff on BBC Radio 3.
What was the last album you bought?
Protocol II and III. I Saw Simon Phillips and his band live at Musicmesse with Andy Timmonds and bought both albums at the gig from the merch desk; before that I bought the HBO (Scott Henderson trio) CD from Scott at the merch desk at Ronnie Scott’s when Tribal Tech played last. That’s the way to buy music! Go to the gigs and pick up a copy!
Have you come across any new bands or musicians recently that you’d recommend?
interested in Snarky Puppy as new music although it’s a bit polished, I like the rougher more improved jazz thing. I recently got to hang out with Laura Mavula’s band and manager at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. She’s very cool. I’m digging her music; it’s very thoughtful. I also really love VV Brown’s later stuff. There’s a track called “The Apple” that she did on Jools Holland and it’s totally epic. I’m really enjoying the rise and rise of James Bay, although I’d rock his music up a bit more! I taught James for a year on his foundation degree course, and he’s one of the genuine soul musicians. Lovely lad.
Haven’t heard of any of those, apart from James Bay, of course. He’s doing very well! Must be your teaching! 🙂
I’ll have to check out the other bands.
Are you working on any new music?
I’ve been quite creatively burned out, and all my energy has gone into teaching my wonderful Diploma kids at BIMM Brighton over the next year. I’m going to start writing a proper old school metal album with a friend of mine, and I’m going to go through my back catalogue of tunes for ideas. I have an old laptop that’s like a salvage scrapyard I’m going to dig around and see what I can find.
Excellent! I love old school metal 🙂
I’ve also started working with Guild guitars, so perhaps develop that relationship with some more acoustic music for the future (see link below).
Title track of the album: “String Theory” (Guild OM 150 review)
What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
Learn to drive, sleep more, work on my fitness, read more history (a passion of mine) and write a book. I have a book in the pipeline on improvising, it’s about 5 of 19 chapters in and I’m going to pick away at that this summer, so I’ll keep you posted. I really think that writing a book is something that so many people are capable of doing, but so few do, (like learning a foreign language) and it just requires a bit of courage!
Speaking from experience, sleeping more and writing a book are two things that won’t work together LOL 😉
Thanks so much for answering my questions, Pat. Good luck with the general launch of the album, and with all your projects!
Keep up with all of Pat’s news by following him on social media, and look out for the release of his album, “String Theory”. You’ll definitely want a copy in your collection!