Singer/songwriter Patsy Matheson was part of the successful all female
folk/indie rock band WAKING THE WITCH who sadly called it a day earlier this
year. She is now back solo with a new album 'A Little Piece Of England', full of
enjoyable acoustic led tunes and an extensive UK tour lined-up between October
and January 2009.
What are you currently up to?
My new solo CD ' A Little Piece of England' is being released at the
beginning of October, so right at this point in time we're fairly busy
organising stuff for that - so I'm doing a fair few live radio appearances and
press interviews over the next couple of weeks or so, and I'm putting the last
minute touches to the live show!
I start gigging to
support the release in Cambridge on October 3rd. The Little Piece of England
tour is being done as duo with Sam Bartholomew, who also produced the album.
Both of us will be playing old vintage American acoustic guitars, so we're
currently spending quite a lot of time working out the best way to amplify
them!! They can be a bit temperamental!
This tour runs through until the end of January, and then we'll take a break for
a month or so before setting off on the road again.
Could you take us through the songs on the new album 'A Little Piece Of
Yep, indeed. I wanted the songs on this album to represent a move forward in
terms of how they are crafted and thought out, and I felt it was important for
them to sit together as a whole, with a common theme, rather than as ten
The chorus of the
title track had been kicking around in my head for ages ( 'I want you to live
with me - to share my little piece of England - and I will make you see that all
you need - is in this view - is in this little piece of England I want to share
with you'), and this kick started off a whole load of other thoughts on
Englishness and things that are happening in England at the moment.
I came up with a
couple of songs that were based around places that I love - 'Ulverston Gypsy' is
based in the Lake District and mentions quite a few Cumbrian towns - and 'Row
Down to Wroxham' is about the River Bure on the Norfolk Broads! 'Lamb to
Slaughter' - which if I was asked to choose, would be my favourite song on the
album - was written after watching a documentary about Amy Winehouse, although
it's not entirely 100% based on her.
Because all of the songs were so new, many of them changed and developed as we
were recording the CD - and there were one or two that were banished to Room 101
never to be seen again! 'Little Piece of England', the title track started off
sounding like an up tempo Del Amitri song, (I ADORE Justin Curry's song writing)
and now it's a slow ballad!
We had also
originally planned to use a much wider variety of instruments, but we found that
the selection of guitars that we used provided lots of different textures
themselves, so most of the songs are based mainly around two acoustic guitars -
although I do make my public debut on the electric on this album!
What sort of set list will you be playing on your upcoming UK dates? Who have
most enjoyed touring with and why? Who else would you like to tour with if given
The set list for this tour will be a mixture of songs from the new album and
songs that I wrote for Waking the Witch.
I also do an
acapella version of Mick Softly's Goldwatch Blues, which I used to do when I
played solo before joining the Witches, and I nicked off an old Donovan album.
I've got a new toy
called a stomp box for that one - which basically is a piece of wood with a mic
inside that I stamp (stomp?!) on except I have to do it without laughing, which
is proving quite tricky in rehearsals!
I enjoyed every minute of touring with Waking the Witch. There was never a dull
moment!! We had a complete gas, and it always seemed wrong referring to what we
were doing as 'work'! We just happened to get paid for doing something that we
all loved doing.
I did a tour as special guest of Christy Moore a few years ago, and I have to
say that was fantastic too. Big, big theatres and big, big audiences. It was
very exciting, and it was a bit of a fluke that I was invited along, because I
happened to do the support slot at his gig in Bradford, which is local to me.
I did a reasonable
job of that one and they were short of a support for the rest of the
tour - Christy Moore was lovely to me and really treated me well (he actually
changed my guitar strings at one point - which was very funny as he said he had
a slave to do his - he was wanting to keep his hand in, I think!)
Dunno who else I'd like to tour with particularly - lots of people, I suppose -
but I'm mainly looking forward to starting the tour with Sam next month. We're
doing some great venues - most of which I've played before with the Witches - so
I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends.
How does your new solo album compare to your previous two solo albums both in
musical style and songwriting? When recording/songwriting do you miss the group
atmosphere you had with Waking The Witch?
My first album 'With My Boots On' featured just me and my acoustic guitar -
no-one else appeared on it. I produced it myself, as I had very set ideas on the
songs I wanted to use and how I wanted them to sound.
It was really well
received, but if I listen back now, it sounds a bit angsty , I think, and misses
the input of a second pair of ears. At the time, in 1996, it was quite unusual
to be producing your own CD, so I was immeasurably proud of it, and I suppose it
represents a moment in time.
My second CD,
'Breathe Me' was much more 'produced' and featured other musicians as well as
me. Jon Short, who played bass on it, also came with me and played on two Waking
the Witch albums. On Breathe Me, I played a Gibson that was on loan to the
studio by Mark Knopfler - but I was sworn to secrecy as apparently he'd said
no-one could use it!
I missed the girls in the studio this time round, of course. Especially Jools'
cooking! But I was really looking forward to doing something solo again, and
recording this new one has been an absolute joy. Sam is very inspiring to work
With this latest CD, I just decided to make the album I wanted to make,
irrespective of what is fashionable or what I think people want to hear, but I
did want it to be technically pretty accomplished. And I'm very proud of the way
it has turned out.
What were the highlights a) recording wise and b) live with Waking The Witch?
I really, really enjoy being in the studio, so it's difficult for me to pull
out any particular recording highlights - I love it all and can't believe how
fast the time goes.
We have had some
great people playing on our albums though - so to witness the brilliant
contribution of musicians outside the band has always been a real privilege.
I was moved to
tears when I heard Fluff's cello part for my song 'Top of the Hill' on the
Witches' Abattoir album, and it was a joy to see Big Country's Bruce Watson
putting down his guitar parts for 'Me Leaving Me'.
Lots of highlights live with Waking the Witch - Glastonbury festival, an obvious
one, I suppose, but also smaller gigs like the afternoon gig we did at Wakefield
women's prison! Or our very first little gigs at my favourite pub, the Grove Inn
at Holbeck in Leeds.
Why did Waking The Witch call it a day when you seemed to be getting such
positive reviews and gaining fans? Any chance the band could get together again
at some point in the future?
Well, lots of different reasons for the band coming to an end, but basically
we all felt it had run its course and had gone as far as it was going to go in
the format that it was in.
We had a sort of
'quit while you're ahead' philosophy. Also, Jools had some health issues (which
are now happily resolved), and Bex was expecting a baby, so it seemed like the
natural time to stop.
We may get back
together at some stage - we're all really good friends still - and Bex lives
next door to me, so we still jam regularly, but right now I'm pretty focused on
what I'm doing with the new album. I'd really like to pursue my solo career for
How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of advice
would you pass onto budding musicians?
That's an interesting question, as I don't really feel like I've ever had a
'break' as such. Because I've never been signed to a label or management
company, and I've always represented myself - (even with the Witches we had our
own label, agency and managed ourselves) - so it's just been a question of
chipping away and not giving up.
Having said that,
just after I completed my first solo CD, I was invited to appear solo on the
acoustic stage at Glastonbury, which I was completely made up about - so I
suppose that was something pretty special to put into my boasting file, and more
work came as a result of it.
If I'm qualified to give advice, I would say don't give up, I suppose. And play
what you believe in. And don't leave your guitar for weeks in its case, cos
you'll never get better that way!
Who have been your musical heroes/influences and why?
Musical heroes are John Martyn. Because he's excellent. And he grooves like
no-one else. And Neil Young. Because he's very cool and talented beyond belief.
And Justin Curry, Paul Weller and Paul Brady. Great, great songwriters. Joni
Mitchell has to be in there somewhere. Oh, and the Beatles.
Plus lots more. Too many to mention.
What do you like doing with your spare time outside of music?
Look after my kids and fix up my Landie!
Message for your fans...
Hope to catch you along the way. Bring a tow rope. x
September 2008 Jason Ritchie.
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