NAME: Patrick Wolf
PROGRESS REPORT: Releasing his fourth album, The Bachelor (Bloody Chamber Music), on June 1.
Patrick Wolf is 6’4″, has a shock of white-blond hair and a penchant for avant-garde fashion, Elizabethan music, and baroque set design. So yeah, it’s no surprise that Universal Records, his last record label, wasn’t the best home for his upcoming LP, The Bachelor. The record veers a bit from the poppier songs of The Magic Position and features production from German digital hardcore producer Alec Empire, a gospel choir, and spoken word interludes by actress Tilda Swinton. But it was Wolf’s decision, not his label’s, to split up his double album, Battle, into two separate LPs. Putting the two together, he says, would be taxing to record, and a big demand on listeners. “To release a double album is such a statement. You’re saying, ‘Ok, can I have an hour and half, two hours of your time to listen to me?'” he says. “My music is already quite hard-going for a lot of people and I just thought it’s better to do it in two pieces so it would be digestible.”
Keeping the records separate would also be good for his psyche, as the songs for each were written at two totally different times. Wolf wrote The Bachelor while he was on tour and doing promotion for The Magic Position, a professionally fulfilling time that nonetheless left him depressed. “I was coming to terms with my sexuality a lot more in terms of coming out of a period of real loneliness that was sexual,” he says. “I had no want to be with a partner.” While touring he spent too much time in hotel rooms and pawing through mini-bars. At home he’d lived “in a pig-sty” and have to explain why he was alone at family events. The Bachelor is a record of those feelings, though, unlike other Progress Report artists, Wolf seems to thrive in the chaos of touring. The Bachelor was written while on tour, literally, sometimes, en route from one place to another. “That state of solitude or exhaustion that you get on tour, I find that inspiring. When I went to do a music degree, they taught me as a composer that you have to compose in your head,” he says. “People that are on tour with me probably think that I’m on heroin because I’m staring out the window and in my own world. I can’t speak because I’m composing in my head.”
Exhaustion brings all kinds of unexpected luck for Wolf. Tilda Swinton agreed to appear on his album (as a sort of mother figure) just at the point when he had run out of recording money and was too tired to continue. “When Tilda came along, it was fantastic. I just knew that something was going right. All wasn’t lost, basically. She really gave a lot of energy,” he says. The partnership isn’t as surprising as it seems — Swinton comes out of a school of experimental performance artists, and Wolf knew her early work well.
You can see Wolf’s love of experimentation across the artwork for The Bachelor. Avant garde designer Ada Zanditon designed clothing for the shoot, and boyish, up-and-coming set designer Gary Card created the scenes. The cover works as an update of the cover to his first album, Lycanthropy, presenting Wolf as a “bachelor camping out in the forest, waiting for battle,” surrounded by instruments, dishes, and other detritus. Here’s the first look at it:
It works as a memento too, since Wolf says that period of his life is in the past. “I’m trying to nest as much as possible before the travelling starts,” he says. “I’ve got my special husband coming around the world with me this time, so I’m not going to be the desperate bachelor anymore. I’m going to be a lot happier.”
Yesterday we posted the S&M-themed NSFW video for “Vulture.” Today we premiere the song’s Tobias Doppelganger remix.
If there’s a band you want Progress Report to drag out of the studio, or bed, for an update, e-mail [email protected].