Dan Patlansky should be the musician everyone wants at their party. Over 10 years the singer/guitarist has developed a vivacious, collar-grabbing brand of blues rock, hitting the heights with seventh LP Dear Silence Thieves. But some audiences are just really tough, especially in very small, backward towns in his native South Africa.
“We realised we’d been booked for a spring dance,” Patlansky says of one particularly memorable night in 2004. “We were booked for four hours, and five minutes in they were queuing to get out! They were hurling abuse at us, making that throat-slitting movement… It was fucking heavy.”
Growing up in latter-day apartheid-era Johannesburg, he fell for his parents’ classic rock records – tracing the likes of Led Zeppelin back through the history of the blues, from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Robert Johnson. “In my early twenties all I wanted to play was classic blues,” he recalls. “But afterwards I went back to my classic rock roots. Zeppelin are still my all-time favourite band.”
Early experience with labels sparked local interest but ultimately proved frustrating, and his last three records have all been self-released. The switch paid off with healthy South African sales, but Patlansky dreamed of success elsewhere.
“I’ve been busting my ass touring in South Africa,” he tells us. “The blues scene, and rock scene in general, is a lot smaller than most places in the world. I’m fortunate to have done well here, but you get to a certain place and think that’s as good as it’s gonna get.”
Things took a turn for the better in 2014 when he supported Bruce Springsteen, and in the same year won Blues Rock Review’s No.1 Blues Album. He then caught the attention of major British PR and promotion contacts, which set Patlansky on course for more worldwide recognition.
“This really is a massive turning point in my career,” he enthuses. “I can book a flight to the UK now and book ten shows. But getting people to come to those shows is a different story.”
Dear Silence Thieves should earn him a few more fans and punters at his gigs. Lenny Kravitz funk in Backbite, suave soft blues in Only An Ocean, hints of noted influence Bonamassa throughout… Unlike some of his previous gunslinging guitar heroics, with this album it was all about the songs.
“In the past my main priority when it came to writing and recording an album was the guitar playing, if I’m honest,” he concedes. “But I met [Buddy Guy producer] David Z a couple of years ago in the States, and he said: ‘Would you rather have a great guitar solo on an average song, or a great guitar solo on a quality song?’ With this album my whole focus changed.”
Dear Silence Thieves is released on April 27. Dan Patlansky plays London Borderline on the same night. Check out the full album below.
FOR FANS OF…
“It’s tough to pick one,” Patlansky says of choosing an album to recommend. “The album experience is very different to the live one; our gig sound is a lot rawer. In a live sense I’d say I echo Philip Sayce; I’m such a big fan of that guy. We have quite a similar sound live – that almost Hendrix-ish, vintagey, old-school blues rock vibe.”