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Patrick Zelinski is one of my best friends and co-producer of my No Escape EP. We used to play in bands together (people sometimes ask “what was that like!?”, so I’ve included a video here) and still enjoy collaborating.
Of course, you could listen to No Escape too:
The interview that follows can be traced all the way back to 2009, when I first started David Andrew Wiebe Podcast. I think you can still extract some value from this conversation though, so I’ve tightened it up for posting here.
Learning Pro Tools
David: You’re a music teacher, guitarist, musician extraordinaire and we’ve been learning Pro Tools together. Are you enjoying that process?
Patrick: Very much. It definitely changes the way the way you think about writing and about music in general. When working with Pro Tools, we have to pay a lot of attention to production and with this process, I’ve been noticing how important production is to your overall sound and to your song in general. It’s been a very rewarding process. I’m not enjoying the technical elements per se; the DVDs and the instructional guides we go through as we know are very tedious.
But that’s something Pro Tools needs to work on. They need to get someone a little more fun than the corporate guys they have behind those control videos. But altogether, it’s been a very enjoyable process, and I can definitely see myself doing this for a long period of time-recording and producing music.
David: Awesome. What sort of improvements do you think they should make to Pro Tools in future editions?
Patrick: It’s amazing. When I’m starting out and when I’m just trying to do a simple recording of a song or go through the basic steps,there is always something that goes wrong like trying to find a regions list. It doesn’t explain where it is or where to find it. There’s this scroll button at the bottom; eventually you figure it out.
But there are a million little things that end up causing a lot of problems to get started and are very discouraging for one studying the metronome. It’s a process that can be a lot easier.So on getting started with recording a song; I think maybe there should be a tutorial that is a lot simpler. Once you get going,yes; you have to delve into a lot of technical elements and that’s understood, but for getting started, I think it’s a little discouraging.
Playing with Plugins
David: Yeah. I definitely think there could be some improvements, but it’s a cool program. How do you like all those plugins?
Patrick: All the plugins. The plugins are fun. I haven’t been able to improve the sound too much with the plugins that came with Pro Tools yet, but that comes with trial and error. Some plugins I bought: I recently bought AmpliTube, which is a guitar amp modeling program and it’s awesome. The tones you get out of that are quite extraordinary. You plug the guitar directly in and then you have choices of several amp models, effect pedals, effect rigs. Different cabs, the microphones you use. It’s a pretty neat program and very easy to use.
Saying that, it tends to take up a lot of space and we have buffering problems as we’re going, but I think that’s going to come with getting a separate audio drive for the computer before I install more plugins in the future.
David: I definitely agree that AmpliTube is a pretty awesome program having tried it myself. You get some great tones out of that.We’ve also experienced some frustration with installing plugins too, right?
Patrick: Oh, yeah. I’m a big fan of violins and cellos and different things in music like that. I think that a symphony sound can add a lot to a lot of music, especially instrumentals and acoustic pieces. There is one Philharmonik Orchestra plugin, and it’s been a nightmare to unplug. I’ve been getting tech support with IK Multimedia and they have not even given the solution to why it’s not working, why it’s not showing up in my Pro Tools plugins list. Technical problems for sure. I guess I’m just not computer literate; it’s something I have to learn. I’ve always been one to sit behind my guitar and play a lot, but I felt as a musician this was a step I had to take. It’s a learning process.
David: I guess with anything, there’s a learning curve and to be a musician that exemplifies all the qualities you need in the industry today, it’s good to have that recording experience behind you as well as songwriting and all that kind of stuff.
Patrick: Definitely. You can even take different things from this and apply it to your stage show. it’s amazing how much more I started listening to my sound ever since I’ve recorded, and have heard stuff being played back to me; I started changing my whole effects rig altogether and have started experimenting with the sound that comes out of my amp a lot more. It’s a very cool process, and I find it’s helping me grow in a lot of areas as a musician.
I’ve realized the importance of sound. Sound is in everything; we tap a desk and there’s sound. It’s incredible. Once we set up a microphone, it’s incredible how much the structure of the room affects the sound. Every object how it’s placed in the room affects the sound because a microphone is so finicky. It picks up absolutely everything. There’s all these objects around us,there’s this environment around us where everything is full of sound and it picks it all up.
Knowing Your Gear
David: I’ve experience that with recording Shipwrecked.. as well. Not being happy with a lot of the dirty tones I got on that. It’s a matter of a lot of experimenting and trial and error and knowing your gear seems to be a big part of that as well.
Patrick: Definitely. I remember watching Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii and the number one point they stressed in that video was know your gear before you build it. Don’t let the machines you use control you. You have to have complete control of them and to be able to use them however you want. You are the artist; you are their master. That’s how it’s got to be.
What Are You Planing to do After You Figure Out Your Recording Process?
David: That’s a really good point. Where are you interested in taking that? Taking the recording experience you gain from this and the technical aspect of it?
Patrick: I want to be the best producer the world has ever seen. That’s not it at all. I’d love to work with artists and have the experience to work on projects with people. One of my favorite things as a musician is to tap into other peoples’ work and to tap into other writers’ work and do what I do within that. I think producing is just something I feel I’m born to do in a sense, and I’ve found it now. I definitely want to be. I don’t know if there’s a market to do it fully as a career, but I definitely plan to train and make a job of it for sure.
I love it also because the hours are versatile. You take on a project and you can tour around that. I think it’s a great job to do if I was touring with a music band or project. I’m teaching right now; it’s not so versatile. You can’t just tell your students, “See ya, I’m going on tour.” You’re committed to them and you’re committed to that time. With producing, I feel like you get a greater sense of being your own boss and doing things as you please. You’re not controlled by time necessarily as much. You’re not tied down by as strong of a schedule.
A Passion for Music
David: And that’s a big part of why Pat and I get along so well because he and I have a similar vision. Having that passion for the music rather than the business, the money, all that kind of stuff.
Patrick: Definitely. Most producers just produce the way they do and become who they are to be marketable. It all fits a niche sound;they have a formula that’s meant to be driven out to masses and that’s what I’m not about. I’m in music to grow and to have growth in music and not fit into a formula where the sound is already known before it’s recorded. It’s a process. It’s got to be a process.
David: I was listening to a podcast not too long ago in which they were talking about the popular music as coming from X Factor and American Idol and shows like that and found it interesting. They have to make money; if they don’t make money at it, they can’t pay their staff, and there’s all kinds of ramifications of that. So I understand the legitimacy of that as well. I think what we’re trying to convey is we like artists who maybe don’t have the biggest of followings, who maybe aren’t going for corporate sellout type music. We like people who genuinely like music and who are passionate about it.
Getting Started as a Guitar Player
So talk about your experience as a guitar player. How did you start?
Patrick: How did I start? I was a very lazy high school student. I didn’t attend a lot of classes; I was very into sports at the time. I started in about grade 10 as an option in high school.My mom had a guitar that basically had bass strings on it and it was a pile to say the least. But I always loved music and I always listened to a lot of popular music at the time because I think everybody starts with what they’re first introduced to as popular music and you branch out from there. I listened to a lot of Backstreet Boys to Collective Soul. A wide range of music.Even Live; I really liked the Throwing Copper album at the time.Some stuff even with guitar in it. Did I say Backstreet Boys? Oh gosh. Cut.
David: Did you actually learn some of their songs?
Patrick: On guitar? No. Actually, no I have. When I was at camp, we did a cover of-I can’t remember which one it was. I was playing the guitar for it.
So I took it as an option and the first year, I wasn’t totally into it. I think I passed the class with a 53 because I just saw it as a slack class. But everybody’s first year on guitar is frustrating getting over hurdles. Once I got over hurdles, once I was able to connect chords and able to make barred shapes, in the second year I was flying. I was getting 80s in the course, and it was a passion that I never let down since then. That’s how I got started. Did you want me to go on about what has led me up to becoming a teacher?
David: Sure. Yeah. Talk a little bit about that too.
How Pat Became a Teacher
Patrick: I just don’t want these questions to be prolonged. After high school, I didn’t compete as much with sports, and I was playing in a band called Noriah. We won a songwriting contest at the time. We had a lot of success; we started doing shows in Thunder Bay, Ontario and were starting to work on our first album. In this time, we’ve had a lot of offers to play at Guelph, the folk festival down there. We opened up for a few acts in Thunder Bay.Major acts including Pilot. I can’t even remember who else.
I found that working in the studio with a producer, a very strong guitar player, and he was going for that more produced sound where he wanted the guitar to be in the background; vocal
and drums oriented. I found the whole vision of the band was suffering through that process. It was something I had to get out of. I moved here and decided I needed to work on becoming a stronger player so I hired different instructors. I hired a guitar player to work on my rock playing, I worked with a guitar instructor at the Royal Conservatory to get into classical guitar where I got to about grade A, and I started attending classical guitar conferences and performances and things like that.
I was planning on attending school and in the process, I over-practiced and had an injury with tendonitis and repetitive strain. It changed the way I thought about music altogether. It was meant to happen. I realized I need to be creative. With classical music, it’s very strong technically, it’s very strong theoretically as well. But, it just doesn’t teach you how to take what you use and apply it with being your own person and to be unique, so I needed to step away from that and I started writing music and in this time, I was building up my endurance to play. It was a process I needed to grow.
I grew a lot as a person in this time, and now I realize how important it is to mix life experiences with music and how important it is when we’re creative to write from as many different – if this makes sense – continuums as we can. To find all different inspiration for the music we write and to not put up blocks or doors that will limit ourselves from reaching those places. Recently, I’ve been writing multitudes of music and trying to find the right people to play with.
David: Talk a little bit more about tendonitis and your experience with that and what people can do to prevent it. And also, if they already have tendonitis, how they can start to find some healing from that.
Patrick: Prevention, I think a big thing for anyone doing music professionally is massage, acupuncture; different things that you go every couple weeks just to keep the muscles loose in your hand and to keep good posture while you’re playing. Make sure you’re playing with a strap. Vitally important.
One of the most important things – and I learned this while I was doing classical guitar; it’s interesting I got the tendonitis after because I was playing eight hours a day at the time. But
you’re taught not to work harder than you have to. I think a lot of guitar players when they’re playing chords, they’re gripping their guitar. It’s very important to only put as much pressure on the frets and only use as much work and have as much workflow through your body as is necessary to play. It will make you a better player and it’s great in preventing injuries for sure.
People who have it, I think every injury happens for a reason and it’s about finding that reason and once you come to terms with that, if you’re meant to play music, you’re meant to recover, you will. You have to believe, but you have to believe it happened for a reason and find that.
David: Very good. I like that. I also found it interesting what you said earlier about beginner guitar students tending towards the pop music. I have a similar experience; at the time what was popular was Santana and Rage Against the Machine, so some immediate guitar heroes for me were Santana and Tom Morello and guys like that. I still enjoy Tom Morello’s playing to this day for sure.
Patrick: Not Santana, though?
David: I don’t listen to him as much. I still like his playing, but I don’t work on that stuff.
Patrick: You might have been introduced to guitar playing instantly. Guitar playing is very popular. Classic rock today is what’s being played on so many radio stations. Everyone likes it more than modern rock. It’s way better.
That’s what my dad got me into. He played me a whole bunch of records and he said hey, Hotel California is way better than that garbage you’re listening to on MTV. It didn’t take long to realize this. I think as a guitar player, as you play, your taste in music is always changing, it’s always evolving. It opens up the doors to playing so many different artists and learning from so many different artists and you become more and more open minded the more you play.
Tips for Guitarists
David: Do you have any other tips for guitarists out there?
Patrick: Guitarists starting out?
David: Yeah. People who are starting out or people who have a certain amount of education or training but are still trying to find their own style and their own way of approaching the instrument.
Patrick: I think everybody is different. If someone is looking to do it professionally as a performer, then it’s a very competitive road. I wouldn’t necessarily have any advice for that. If someone is looking to be a songwriter or to create music or playing in a band, I think it’s important, number one, not to carry any ego because it ruins the song. Learn to play with other musicians. Learn to tap into what they do.
Don’t overplay; don’t think that you have to be Jimmy Page or whoever your idol might be overnight. That doesn’t happen. You have to be your own person, and you have to find your own voice on guitar. I think that there are so many guitar players nowadays who are inspired by other musicians that are doing what they do really well and playing their style really well, but that’s never going to go anywhere because it’s not unique. There are so many other people doing that same thing, so it’s important to have your own voice.
It’s also important when we’re talking about mainstream music.Because music has been made marketable, the best music is never heard by masses. All musicians know that. It’s important to not write with an audience in mind, to write solely from your heart.Never write with your audience in mind. So many people write strictly for their audience and strictly write to fit a market.
You can’t put up any blocks to your creativity. Why do we want to sound like anybody else? Why do we want to sound like anybody else but ourselves? Why are we in music? To express and being able to express should require constant growth. By doing that,your sound is always changing. You have to be willing to make that happen.
Google & YouTube
David: Definitely I like that. Google and YouTube have certainly changed the playing field somewhat. Would you agree with that? For all musicians, you can start to get a little more exposure if you go looking for it even if you’re not well known.
Patrick: Definitely, I think all these tools we have today makes everybody a musician and makes everybody be able to show their work for sure which is excellent. It definitely changes a lot.It’s great that we have access to so many different musicians and have access to so much music without being forced to go out and buy the CD on a whim without hearing any of the tracks. We have everything in front of us. We can listen to what we want,hear so many different musicians, have time to hear so many more musicians, and not be taken out of a comfort zone by going to a record store and purchasing a hundred albums to find what we like.
When I was searching for new music, I look at the album cover. I remember buying a Silverchair album because the album cover looked cool. There was this frog and whatever. I was buying CDs based on what the cover looked like and half the time I’d go home pretty disappointed. But then I remember I bought Dark Side of the Moon just because I thought that was a cool design and was pretty blown away. That was a good choice.
David: I was just listening to Silverchair today myself. I actually do enjoy some of their music.
David: But I know what you mean; they were different days. You bought CDs for different reasons. Maybe because it was popular, maybe because you liked one song on it. Maybe because of the album artwork like you said. There are a lot of things that can attract people to music, the way it’s packaged.
Patrick: And there was something special about having that package.There was something special about owning that. And especially finding albums and owning albums that were specialty that maybe a lot of people haven’t bought and you found a song that maybe wasn’t a hit on an album. That song was always special to you. I definitely liked those times. I think in the ’90s, so much great music was coming out. So many great and new sounds were coming out. The ’90s were an excellent decade.
David: I have experience with that too definitely playing one of the songs that wasn’t a popular single and sometimes finding that it was pretty awesome.
Let’s move on to talk a little bit about gear. You’re a bit of a gear head yourself.
Patrick: I just started. I think with the classical guitar, you have the guitar and based on where you place your fingers, based on the angles of your fingers, you get a different tone. You have just your instrument to work with to develop tone. I’m at this new phase in my life where I’m working on songwriting and creating and trying to express. I think it’s important to have a lot of versatility with gear and equipment.
I started out thinking Boss pedals, they seem to be the standard. I bought a bunch of Boss pedals, put them through, and it’s incredible how they sucked all life out of my tone. The distortion when put to any recording of anything I liked just sounded disgusting no matter how I tweaked the amp. The fuzz; I would love to see Hendrix play with that. Out of the Boss pedals, the only one I had any use for seemed to be the delay and the reverb.
Recently, I’ve started doing a lot of research. What do I do?This is a problem. You can’t set up too many pedals through an effect board because you lose a lot of sound. What I did was
looked at a Radial Loopbone, it’s called. It has different effect chains where only the effects you’re using will be going through the system. It allows me to have versatility without losing tone, and I find as soon as I put more than two or three pedals in, the sound is just not worth it what you lose.
Out of what I found, I first started researching a ton of distortion pedals, and I found the Radial one just to be phenomenal. Phenomenal. It’s got a tube in the effect pedals and how you can tweak it, you can get vintage Jimmy Page type of sounds, you can get Lynyrd Skynyrd type of sounds. It’s so versatile what you can do with your distortion with anything from metal to blues, you can dial up a really good tone in all genres and to have it be completely clean.
I can hear the chords I play. If I strummed a chord, even on the drive cranked, I can hear the color of that chord. A full chord;I’m talking major and minor. With the Boss, I’d play a power chord and I can’t even tell what I’m playing it’s so dirty.
I started playing with that and also got a Captain Coconut which is something I used in the studio before which replicates a lot of Jimi Hendrix’s vintage guitar sounds, the pro vibe, the fuzz and the octave. It’s a phenomenal pedal.
I also got into the Mobe Gear which is more for psychedelic sounds and synth sounds for the guitar. It’s great for not cutting any of the signal as well. And with the wah pedal – I bought a custom made wah pedal that was specifically built to have no latency. With that, I think you have to get a really good wah and really search for one that has been specifically built because the ones we buy in the stores just don’t cut it.There’s too much noise interference with wah pedals.
I have that for a set up right now. In one bank, I’d have distortion and reverb and that’s it and in other bank, I would have the more interesting effects. I’m liking the versatility I have and being able to. The sounds I can create are endless right now. I’m always researching to update my rig and everything. We have so much, with technology, we have so much to use, it’s incredible. If we know what we’re doing, music can really advance. A lot of genres of music, even psychedelic music can really advance. Experimental music. It’s incredible what we have, but we have to learn how to use it and pay attention to it.
David: The distortion pedal you’re using is the Radial Plexitube, right?
Patrick: Yeah. The Radial Plexitube.
David: Nice. Radial certainly seems to have an impressive line of products and I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.
Getting Your Guitar Tone
Would you say that tone is more in your hands or in your gear? How much affects either? Especially coming from a classical player, I think this will be interesting.
Patrick: There’s no doubt that it’s both. There’s no doubt that it’s both. Acoustic guitar heavily is in your hands, even more so because what you have is the natural tone of the guitar. You have the sound and it’s heavily in your hands. There’s no doubt that both are affected. Our gear is so heavily important too,the amps we choose and where we place our amp. I’ve grown to really respect that lately.
I would even go as far as an electric guitar player it’s more in the gear. I would love to hear Jimi Hendrix play with that Boss fuzz pedal. Saying that, performance is very important and how you play. Definitely two guitar players will play the same riff and they’ll play completely different.
What Other Instruments do You Play?
David: Do you play instruments besides the guitar?
Patrick: Ukulele, triangle. The viola. I’m kidding. I started playing piano before I did anything, so I did my Conservatory up to grade six. I’ve recently been playing around with more synthesizers and synth sounds with that.
On guitar, I think that even different guitars should be a different instrument. Electric guitar, acoustic, steel string and nylon should all be considered different instruments and should be played differently. I’ve been trying to branch out. If you play an E bow on guitar, it’s like playing a completely different instrument. Slide guitar is like playing a completely different instrument. These are all areas I’ve been branching out to and experimenting with. Creating as many different techniques and styles of playing on the guitar.
I’ve also been playing drums to work on my rhythm. I think it’s important for every guitarist to really work on their rhythm.I’ve been going through a syncopation book and setting up a metronome and only focusing on rhythm.
David: And you find that helps with your guitar playing as well?
Patrick: A ton. It helps with the way you strum, how you space your strums. Little details I’ve learned make the biggest difference in the world. I usually write songs on acoustic and apply it to electric. When you apply it to electric, how you time what you play is such a big factor and paying attention to that is really important.
And you have to have the knowledge to be able to do that; you have to be able to apply it. If you separate things, if you make things as minimalist as we can, we’re practicing a lot more. I learned that through classical. Sometimes, I would just pluck one string with one finger, change the angle and do that for an hour because that’s what was required.
I’m not discouraging people from playing guitar. You have to make it fun, but there are times when if we are practicing by making things more detailed, we’re going to get more out of it.But saying that, you can only stay focused for so long when you’re practicing. It’s important that we’re only practicing in15 minutes of focus at a time and then going and just have fun.You’re playing the instrument to express, not to torture yourself.
What Would You Like to Accomplish with Music?
David: I think that’s some good advice for sure. Where do you want to take your music ultimately?
Patrick: I’d love to be on tour. Right now, I’m looking for a band. I’m working with a drummer. I’m looking for all different musicians with all different instruments for sure: bass guitars,keyboards, vocals, and I’d love to be on the road touring,finding musicians that are creative as well and tap into what they do and play with them. I want to be exposing my music to as many people as possible.
Pat’s Musical Influences
David: Talk about some of your musical influences.
Patrick: It’s changing all the time. Lately I’ve been huge on King Crimson and Robert Fripp. I think where they go with music, the boundaries that they’ve covered and how Robert Fripp has always been able to change his playing to whatever singer he may bring into the band is just phenomenal. They’ve been heavier than any band I’ve ever heard; they have jazz influences in their music,they had a time where they were playing mainly folk music through flutes and all kinds of different acoustic instruments.
Throughout their career, they’ve gone through so many phases and I love that. I love bands that are just willing to adapt and change like that. I’ve been huge on that.
What else? I’ve been listening to Tom Waits lately. I think he’s an interesting character. The uniqueness in his voice-you don’t see that too often. I used to listen to strictly guitar music like all the classic rock and I haven’t been doing that as much.
I think with an injury, I’ve been listening to a lot of sounds that you can get out of a lot of different devices. I’ve been listening to Portishead a lot; I really like how the band creates the atmosphere. There’s a simplicity in what they do and the vocalist comes over the top with very strong, melodic ideas,and it’s really cool. I’ve also been into electronic music, jazz music. It goes all over the map. The more we listen to, the more we can draw influence from.
David: I’m with you there. It just keeps changing. What I’m interested in. All the time.
Patrick: It’s not ADD, either.
David: No. I think it’s a natural progression as a guitarist.
Patrick: I think it’s ADD if you’re not willing to listen to more music,actually. Nothing against-you’re probably going to cut this segment out of the interview.
David: No. Not even. For me, there was even a time when metal music just ground my gears, and I didn’t want to listen to it and that’s changed over time. I’ll actually sit and listen to it.
Patrick: You’ve grown to like metal?
Patrick: When it’s not egotistical, I think metal music, like you look at Malmsteen; someone’s got to get that guy and set him back down to earth because he’s so good, but I just end up laughing at what he’s doing. It’s ridiculous.
David: He’s kind of a self-caricature.
Patrick: There you go.
What’s Overture Music?
David: Definitely. Let’s talk about Overture Music for a second. Tell me about your business.
Patrick: Since I moved to Calgary, I’ve started teaching through a couple of studios and have found that I wanted to build my own curriculum with teaching. I didn’t like being told what I have to teach, which books I have to work out of, so I started trying to find students on my own. This is about the time I first injured myself, so I took some time off, and I built up the amount of students I have as my wrist has healed and as I’ve been able to play more.
When you’re starting something like this, it’s important to know what you’re doing, how to market yourself because you could spend a lot of money on finding students and not get any response. There are different things that work, and I’m not going to go too much into giving tips here, because some competitors might be listening.
But it’s really great. I’m my own boss. I now have between 40and 50 students; I’m trying to get to 50 and capping it there.I’m getting students in all interests and all different types of music as well, and I take all of the technical and theoretical elements I’ve learned through my training, but also make sure that each student of mine is unique and ends up and that I’m able to adapt to that as well.
It’s also cool; being your own boss, you get to have your own events. There is this great pleasure in running your own recital and MCing your own recital and being in control of that. Workshops are a huge part of the business as you know. You taught one last year and we’re having you out again this year.
David: Looking forward to it.
Patrick: Bringing workshops into your business is really cool having complete control. I love that. Complete control over what I teach and control over all the other elements of it as well.
David: And being a guitar teacher myself I totally know where you’re coming from on a lot of that and having to going on this particular studio’s curriculum or whatever is kind of a tough thing to convey to students when they’re more interested in playing something popular, Green Day, as opposed to working on something classical or trying to learn to sight read for the first time. It takes a lot of effort.
Patrick: I think you need to really balance from a lot of different areas. Sometimes you’re going to lose a student if you don’t make the lessons fun. You have to be willing to adapt to that.Throw the books away. It’s not important. For some students it’s just developing interest in music and that’s all you can do. And as you know, they progress. They’re going to be more open minded to reading music and understand the importance of it.
Current State of the Music Industry
David: This is always a big question, what is your opinion on the current state of the music industry?
Patrick: What’s being played to us hasn’t gotten any better, let’s put it that way. Vibe 98.5, oh boy.
David: Support the local scene.
Patrick: Even rock music, what’s being played on rock stations, it’s horrendous. Intervals that are being used in music, seems to be they are less and less welcomed. Power chords and major minor and there’s not a lot of interesting guitar in music. There’s no room for it.
Saying that, we had this discussion earlier, and you made some really good points which I’ll let you share since it came from your mind. I am very optimistic about the future of the music industry.
David: What were some of the things I was talking about? Refresh my memory.
Patrick: You don’t remember? Just that the music industry isn’t in corporate hands like it used to be. There’s not as much of a buck. It’s very affordable for us all to record on our own and get our music out there on our own and slowly, the music industry is being put in the hands again of musicians. It’s very, very true and it’s taking a great change. Downloading is great. It’s done wonders.
David: I definitely see that happening gradually and more and more as time goes on and as album sales decline which isn’t the entire truth; actually, indie sales are up according to reports that I’ve seen. However, mainstream albums are down so the corporate types are going to have a hard time because if they don’t actually have passion for the music, they’re simply in the industry for the money. Which isn’t to pass judgment on them;you have to find a job. Everyone’s got to make a living.
Patrick: There’s been some scary statistics too like in Canada, there’s a thousand bands signed a year and only two or three end up making a profit with what they do. That’s scary.
David: I’ve seen a lot of colleagues and bands that still work day jobs despite the fact that they’re well known, and I’m not going to mention their names, but despite the fact they’re well known even across the US and Canada.
Patrick: So there you go. Don’t try to be a star. Be yourself.
Patrick: Stop watching American Idol. I’m going to get hate mail for this.
David: If that’s what you like, go ahead and watch American Idol. If you want to find stardom and fandom, you can go ahead and do it that way too.
Patrick: There’s a one in a billion chance you’ll win the darn thing and then win you do, they throw you in the dirt.
David: They’ve put you through the ringer already at that point, right? You already have some live experience, you already have some touring experience. You already have a lot of what they need to package and market later on. If you think that’s the end of it, probably not. It probably only gets harder from there.More touring.
Patrick: Saying that, there are a lot of talented folks on the show, and I’m not discrediting that for sure. I’m just discrediting the idea behind it, and it’s not the people singing and doing what they’re doing, it’s the whole nature of the show that bugs me.
What’s Next for the Music Industry?
David: I hear that. I understand where you’re coming from. So where do you see the music industry headed?
Patrick: I’m not a fortune teller. I really put a lot of thought into it. I read statistics that there will be a lot more jobs in musical fields in the future. I really hope that there is going to be a lot of opportunities for people with original work for performing and recording the future because I think it’s a great job and I think a lot of people are meant to be doing that.
Thoughts on the Calgary Music Scene
David: What are your thoughts on the local music scene?
Patrick: Too much country. Exclamation mark. I’m kidding. I like country music. So thoughts on the local music scene: I think there are a lot of great acts out there and a lot of great acts that have come from Calgary in the last couple of years and have found success and been able to tour and have done some wonderful things.
I also think there’s been a lot of places open to have open jams and open mics. It seems like everybody can just go and play, which is great. Within these open mics, I find them to be very
niche, very one sound. It seems like everyone is trying to fit this niche; everyone is trying to sound like somebody they’re not. That I have a problem with.
I even find the people that are hosting a lot of the jams, no tall of them, I’m not going to mention any names, not all of them, but I’ve found some of them to be a little snobby and not
really welcoming to a lot of musicians who are there to express.I’ve seen some people get up and put their full heart into what they did and no response. Nobody else came and talked to them.But as soon as somebody plays a Johnny Cash cover-I love Johnny Cash-but as soon as somebody plays a Johnny Cash cover, the whole audience is into it.
That’s why I left playing classical music; I don’t want to relive the past. I want music to grow and people have to be willing to let music grow. And bars have to be willing to accept artists that might sound a little bit different and are a little more unique and artists especially that have a huge passion for what they do.
Don’t Take it Personally
David: Yeah. It can be a pretty odd scene that way. I’ve been plugging away at this for 10 years, close to anyway. And there are still a lot of times you’re not necessarily recognized or known, and you can’t take it personally. You just have to keep at it.
Patrick: You can’t take it personally. It’s not the recognition that’s necessarily a problem here. I just find that a lot of people are playing music for the wrong reasons. They’re doing it to showoff. They’re doing it to just fit in, and it’s not why we play music. I think a lot of people need to reevaluate why they’re doing it. It’s incredible. You don’t even have to be a great guitar player or singer; I’m not about that. I’m not being snobby in that way. You take somebody like Leonard Cohen who just says some of the most beautiful things with his lyrics and his poetry. Half decent voice, half decent guitar playing, and I could listen to that all day because he’s saying it like it is;he’s expressing himself.
David: And that’s an important aspect of songwriting, right? Being honest with yourself and who you are?
Patrick: Definitely. Not to make things all bubble gummy and just to please. You can conform and please and try to have fun, or you can really dig deep and create and grow.
The Importance of Networking
David: How important is it for a musician to network with a variety of people?
Patrick: Oh, it’s important. We learn so much from other musicians.Everybody we play with, everybody we work with, everybody we talk to, every conversation we have relating to music. It’s incredible how it changes how it changes our opinions. Even criticism we get from other people-once we’re past taking it personally, it helps us grow. It’s very important to play with a lot of musicians and to be open-minded to that and to be welcoming.
There’s so many singers out there that want to please everyone and as soon as another member comes in, a drummer or bass player, they just want them to fit that mold. It’s like, respect those artists. They’re not here for your vision. They have to fit your vision. It’s very important to network and to be accepting of everybody you play with.
David: That seems to be such a huge lesson as a musician; understanding what it is to be something and someone else and as musicians, we get into this place where maybe we judge or look at them in a certain way and we think why are they doing that? But ultimately, you want to come to a place where you don’t take things personally, and you just enjoy them for what they do and enjoy yourself for what you do.
Finding Balance as a Musician
David: It can be difficult for musicians to prioritize their time. How can you best balance their practice time, promotion efforts, and daily responsibilities in your opinion?
Patrick: I’m someone that played too much. I’ve been tired from practicing too much. We can’t stress about it, we just have to be. We can’t set out a big set of guidelines for how we’re supposed to go about it; we just have to do it. It’s when we’re not stressed out that we create our best work and that we’re able to do the most. I’m learning not to stress about prioritizing or anything. You make a schedule.
With the technical things like Pro Tools, it’s not very fun watching those instructional videos, so you have a beer and you get past that. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting together with the band a lot and that you’re enjoying what you’re doing. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you’re going to make it a priority.
It’s as simple as that. If there’s conflict and you’re not enjoying it, you have to evaluate why. Bands break up for so many reasons and everything has to fit. It’s important as a band and with other musicians that you talk about the problems you may have; just get everything out there. That’s the only way it works playing with other musicians.
David: I find you can get burned out pretty quickly when you sit down and say, “Okay. I need to practice three hours a day and this is the time slot I’m going to do that in and spend an hour on promotion.” It’s good to have some kind of structure, but ultimately, it’s hard to maintain something like that.
Patrick: Like if my girlfriend or my mom called me during a time when I was practicing, I wouldn’t answer.
Patrick: It was obsessive. It wasn’t healthy.
David: You can’t live when you’re doing that.
Patrick: You can’t live like that. It’s not why we’re playing. We’re not playing to be-it’s important to be technical; it’s important to work hard. This is a career. It has to be taken seriously. But like anybody’s career, they should be enjoying what they’re doing. Ultimately, if you’re not enjoying it, you have to evaluate why. And no offense, nobody enjoys practicing four hours straight, five hours straight, six hours straight. It’s not fun.
David: If you get to thinking about so many things too, if your thoughts wander, like mine often do. I have a strong imagination.
Patrick: It’s a way of numbing yourself playing that long. If your thoughts are wandering, find out why they’re wandering and express what that is; write a song.
David: That’s a good point.
Patrick: Find the chords that go along with that imagination. That’s why you’re a musician because you have imagination.
What’s Next for Pat?
David: That’s really good. What can we expect from you in the future; coming days, coming weeks, coming months?
Patrick: I think I’m going to give up everything and become a bum. Or a pimp, I don’t know. One or the other.
David: I think we just jumped up to PG-13, but that’s all right.
Patrick: What can you expect? I’m not in a hurry to do anything. I’m trying to find the right members for sure. I’m not close-minded about which members I have. I don’t have a certain vision of who they might be, it’s just finding the right members, finding the right people to play. There’s my phone ringing.
David: It happens. It’s your mom or your girlfriend.
Patrick: Distracting me. I can’t answer that. There we go; it’s done. What was the question again?
David: The question was what can we expect from you in the future with your music?
Patrick: I’m not going to rush. I’m making sure I find the right members for sure, and even if I’m not jamming with a band and working with other musicians, I’m still growing as a musician. I’m still working toward my goals on my own by creating sound by writing. I have a ton of songs written; I’ve been writing melodies.
Saying that, I expect that when other members come in, the sound is going to change a great deal and I’m open to that as well. I want to find musicians to play with. People with the same passion.
What a horrible ringtone. You’d think being a musician that I’d have something cool on there, but I got this $40 pay as you go phone. It doesn’t really allow for many ring tone options.
David: What ringtone did you pick?
Patrick: I think it’s just the default one that’s on there right now. On my old phone, which got wrecked in Canada Post. It was a$200 or $300 phone. I had some pretty cool ringtones on it. I had the Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 themes going and all the regular Nintendo, so it was pretty cool. I’m missing that for sure.
Patrick Zelinski Interview Conclusion
David: Cool. This is the David Andrew Wiebe Podcast folks. We get all kinds of happenings. You just never know when you get to talking. You’ve probably heard the furnace trying to go on and off here a couple times too, but it’s all good. We’re probably going to wrap things up here, but do you have any final remarks for the podcast?
Patrick: No, I think we’re hitting the hour mark here, so I think we should wrap things up pretty quickly. If you’ve endured this interview, congratulations. Hopefully, you got something from it.
David: I think it’s been great. I think it’s been very informative and we’re looking forward to having you on the podcast again in the near future.