Sunday, September 4, 2011

Active Child hits the road for first headlining tour

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 7:44 PM

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Pat Grossi, the choir boy-turned indie rocker who performs under the Active Child moniker, finds himself in a familiar position: hitting the road. This time, though, he’ll do so for the first time with his name at the top of the bill, embarking on his first headlining tour in support of the newly-released You Are All I See, a follow up to last year’s well-received Curtis Lane EP. Both releases are well-crafted, richly layered indie-pop exercises showcasing a blend of influences and the potential to put Active Child firmly on a more widespread radar. As Grossi hits the road, he talks about the new record, new pressures and what he hopes the future will hold.

First things first, congrats on the new record. Tell me a little bit about the product and what you were trying to accomplish.
Pat Grossi: In general, I think I was just looking to expand on some things I had experimented with on the EP and I was trying to continue to move into that direction while also exploring a little bit more about how the harp can play a bigger role and maybe change the mood of some of the songs.

What were you drawing from during the writing process for this record? Is that a different place, or different factors, than the process for last year’s EP?
PG: My environment tends to have a pretty big impact on whatever I’m writing. Most of the EP in 2010 was written when I lived in Denver through the winter, so I think those songs tended to be a little bit cooler. The other part of the EP I wrote after I had moved back to L.A., so those songs tended to be a little sunnier. I took a trip up to Big Sur and did some sort of romantic music getaway where I thought I would write all these great songs and seclude myself up in this little cabin up there. I ended up writing a lot of songs up there. The combination of that, and the fact that L.A. last year had a really rainy November and December was a big factor [on this record]. That’s my favorite time to write, when you feel like you’re in a cozy place, just kind of tucked away. There’s no need to go outside and you can just kind of focus and lose yourself a little bit.

Did you, or do you typically, consider how songs will translate live when you were in the studio?
PG: Initially, I thought about that a lot after touring the EP and feeling kind of unsatisfied on a personal level at the way we were presenting the music. So initially in writing these songs, that was in the back of my mind, thinking ‘How is this going to work?’ ‘Who’s going to play this?’ One day I decided to just focus on writing a good song and figure the rest out later. That’s become the best way for me to do it. We’ve spent basically the last month just playing in L.A. We have a residency at a club there called Echo, and so we’ve been playing a lot and have been able to feel out the songs and figure out what works. Now that we’re on tour, I think we’re getting more confident in the songs and some of the parts that we are playing and the way that we are playing them, and the harmonies and melodies that are coming into play. I’m definitely a lot more excited about being on the road now than I did a year ago. I feel more genuine now. It’s more fun to play for me and I think for everyone else in the band.

So things feel different at the outset of this tour? There’s some buzz now, and it’s your first headlining run. Is there more pressure, and is that a good thing for you?
PG: There’s definitely a lot more pressure to kind of take it to the next level. We want to be able to live up to what people are saying and some of the buzz we got around the EP. I think, at the end of the day, that’s a good ting. If you don’t have that pressure, you tend to rest on your laurels a little bit and you just sort of get by. That’s kind of how I felt touring before, and now there’s added pressure to really impress on a different level. Hopefully we live up to that.

On some of your support tours, what are some things you picked up about how to best live on the road and run an effective tour?
PG: As far as learning the ropes, you’re kind of on your own in a lot of ways. I think we’ve all learned that you just have to take care of yourself (laughs). You can’t get carried away with partying and staying out late all the time. You’ve gotta stay grounded. You don’t really get a whole lot of days off and it’s a real grind. I think people something see touring as this sort of rock star vacation, but it can be very exhausting.

Tell me about some of your earlier musical influences and things that still have a big place in your music now.
PG: One of the very very early things for me that, up until recently, was a huge influence on me was singing in the choir. I was singing in the choir from about 9-13, and I had never really been put on the spot and asked to perform in any way. So being exposed to that for a while and being, in a lot of ways, a touring musician gave me a lot of great experience. It left some weird, subconscious impression on the stuff that I create now. That’s definitely one of the big things for me.

It’s an interesting band name, too. What are the origins of that?
PG: It’s a story that my mom tells that since has become family folklore (laughs). I guess I used to just sit with my head to the speaker all the time when I was little. So at Thanksgiving or something, my mom’s sister came up to her and said ‘Ya know, I think Patrick’s deaf.’ I was just sitting there so zoned out on whatever audio was coming out (laughs). So that name just sort of takes me back to that period. Just being a kid and being fearless in a lot of ways.

What are you looking forward to most in the coming months?
PG: To get to travel and see new places and continue playing with the people I’m playing with is going to be fun. I’m curious to see how many people turn up at the shows, obviously. We’ve never really done it before. We’ve supported before, but now the pressure is on. We’re anxious to get out there and start to build a reputation for ourselves.

Active Child with Com Truise $10. 8:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 5. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com

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