Broke-Ass Band Interview: Whiskerman (Tonight @ Amnesia)
If you’ve ever gone to a show in San Francisco or the East Bay and seen an excellent violinist or cellist in the band, it was probably one of the inimitable Patzner brothers. Graham, Anton, and Lewis Patzner are go-to string players for every Bay Area band that knows what’s good for them. Graham Patzner’s own project, Whiskerman (listen to them here), will celebrate the screening of its Chasing the Moon episode during tonight’s full moon show at Amnesia with Slow Motion Cowboys and Petunia & the Vipers.
“In his search for the perfect cast to portray his edgy, hallucinatory soul songs, 23-year old singer Graham Patzner (brother of Judgement Day string players Anton and Lewis Patzner) has performed with party bands, stripped-down folk quartets, string-only duos and five-piece horn sections. For a while it was questionable whether Graham would ever give up his musical bachelorhood but he finally seems to have settled down with a permanent group of skillful psychedelic rockers. Backed by his brother Lewis Patzner on cello and trombone, singer and keyboardist Madeline Streicek, bassist Will Lawrence and drummer Nicholas Cobbett, Graham takes to the stage wildly wielding guitar, violin, piano and a voice that’s both powerful and vulnerable. The resultant sound is a Frankenstein fusion of a simple folk backbone, rich classical core, wide-streching art-rock limbs and big jazz feet. The energy this Oakland 5-piece puts out is palpable.”
I asked Graham, violinist extraordinaire and Whiskerman frontman, to talk about his unconventional pre-show rituals, why he loves the Lord of the Rings but hates Frodo, and his super unhelpful local restaurant recommendations. Though we started off a little slow, after his very honest answer to the sock drawer question, things pick up. Wait ’til you hear what he refuses to spend money on and what’s good about being broke (hilarious!!). (Also he gives some very sage advice for aspiring musicians. Hint: It’s ok to live with your parents! Thanks for that, Graham!).
I am Graham.
Describe your sound in five words or less.
Some kind of soul.
Tell us about your band name.
It’s easy to remember.
Favorite thing about San Francisco?
Favorite SF restaurant?
There was a sandwich place I went to twice and it moved. I don’t know it’s name.
Favorite SF bar?
Probably the place across the street from 24th Mission Bart stop. The Attic. It’s dark and happy.
How do you prepare for a big show? What will you be doing the night before?
I try to shake the cobwebs out and move my body a lil. The night before I’m usually hanging upside down eating apples.
What can people expect at your shows?
I usually open my mouth real wide.
What do you do during downtime on tour?
What’s next for the band? (i.e. plug your next show!)
SF album release at Hotel Utah! October 22nd. Also watch our Chasing the Moon episode Tuesday at Amnesia.
Three things you’d take to a desert island?
My dog Henry Jones, heaps of kale, and a bow with tons of arrows.
What movie can you watch over and over and never get sick of?
Definitely any of the Lord of the Rings, though Frodo’s a little bitch and I have to fast forward.
Favorite season or time of year?
The fall! No matter what something changes.
Three things that are in your fridge right now?
Some yogurt my mother made, eggs from the chicken coop, and jam.
Anything in your sock drawer besides socks?
There’s a roll of toilet paper, a busted old Discman, an unsent letter to my ex-girlfriend, a nude playing card with “Sam Stone’s” number on it, and three small bags of really terrible weed I bought from a homeless guy in front of a taco truck in Oakland a year and a half ago.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty, i.e. money: Have any tips for aspiring musicians trying to make it on their craft?
Don’t get a job. Live with your parents if you can, or be a bum and play on the street all the time.
Best money saving tip in general?
Where do you live now and what are some good cheap/fun things to do in that area?
I live in the Oakland hills and the best thing to do is to hike in the parks. Sibley, Redwood, Huckleberry, Joaquin Miller park- you could spend days I’m sure.
What do you refuse to spend money on?
Some asshole trying to do something dickish.
What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and how did that feel?
I just bought a plane ticket to the Dominican Republic for my friend’s wedding. Felt pretty grand.
What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?
Somebody paying me to yell in a room for two hours.
What is your favorite free thing to do?
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?
Probably a real nice amp.
What’s one GOOD thing about not having a ton of money?
God doesn’t hate you.
Any last words?
I’d like to thank you for the questions and YOU for the reading!
*Photos by Nika States