Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a ‘Nashvillian’ or the Nashville experience.” “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”
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Interview with roots-rock singer/songwriter
By Dave Carew
Pat Anderson is an indie roots-rock singer/songwriter based in Nashville. Over the past few months, Pat has showcased his music at the world-famous Bluebird Café and at other Nashville venues, and currently is working on his debut album, due this spring. Although Pat’s prime focus these days is working on his album and building his local fan base, he’s already capturing attention beyond Nashville’s city limits. Roots Revival Radio in Belgium hailed Pat “a very talented young artist who deserves highlight attention.” And GreenManReview.com said of Pat: “This is a singer who is going to be BIG . . . . You will be hearing a lot more of Pat Anderson.”
Underground Nashville recently caught up with Pat for this interview:
UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: How would you describe your music? How is it distinct from the commercial (primarily country) sound people associate with Nashville?
PAT ANDERSON: I guess I’d say it is singer/songwriter roots rock. It probably fits under the Americana label pretty well [too]. I’m pretty sure that right now I’m not writing or producing music bound for the commercial country market. For one, my budget’s not big enough! For another, I think my stuff is a little dark for today’s commercial country radio. It’s not necessarily typical Monday morning on-your-way-to-work “drive time” music meant to keep folks tuned in through the commercials. What attracts me to other artists’ songs is when I feel a real vital human element in the story and performance, and I think, for all of its strengths musically and production-wise, I miss this in a lot of commercial “Nashville” stuff—not all, but a lot of it. The soul behind the music and songwriting is often buried under a pop marketing sheen that obscures it for me. That’s definitely not to say that there aren’t bright spots, because the cream of that crop is just as good as anything put out by anyone, period.
UN: What topics particularly interest you as a lyricist? Why?
PA: I was born in Oklahoma and raised there, and in Virginia close by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and my family all come from Mississippi and Louisiana originally. So it comes naturally to have a rural/smaller town setting for most of my songs. Topically, I think I just try and key in on something vital that I can hook into emotionally. [On my forthcoming record] there are songs about love, hard work, murder, drug abuse, hope, the pursuit of happiness, loneliness, etc. The songwriters I most admire tend to be able to capture a pretty wide swath of what it means to be human, both good and bad. I try, with widely varying degrees of success, to live up to that.
UN: How are you attempting to capture the interest of fans and/or the industry with your music? Are you playing out a lot?
PA: Right now I’m just trying to make the best record I can and then kind of take stock and see what I can do with it to get it out there. I haven’t been playing out a bunch lately, but hope to change that once the record is done and I have something to offer folks.
UN: What is your ultimate “dream” for your music? How do you hope to touch people’s lives with it?
PA: I guess I have a two-pronged dream. One is that I just want to make good enough music that it affects people in the same way that the music I like affects me. There’s something comforting and strengthening in the best music, and it makes the world a little bit more habitable place to me. The other is that I get to a point where enough folks support what I’m doing so that I can really do it full-time and continue to make records.
UN: Finally…Is there anything else you’d like to tell people about your music?
I guess just how excited I am about this new record. I was really lucky to get some incredible musicians together and they did what incredible musicians do—played some great music. Tim Marks (bass), Nick Buda (drums, percussion), Rob McNelley (electric guitar), Jen Gunderman (piano/organ/electric piano/harmonium/accordion), and Will Kimbrough (electric guitar/mandolin/resonator guitar/banjo/bouzouki) all did a wonderful job. Chad Carlson and Gordon Hammond did a great engineering job in capturing the tracks.
For more information about Pat Anderson and/or to sign up for Pat’s e-mail list, please visit Patandersonmusic.com.
David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance publicist and copywriter.