Apr 02, 2021
By Caleb Campbell
Nashville indie rock band Patzy had a long road to their 2018 debut full-length record Opus Uno. The songwriting duo at the core of the band, Memphis native Logan Todd and Ohioan Patrick Sewalk, met in college in 2012 and ran through various permutations and styles on the road, including opening for COIN, Deerhunter, and Liza Anne, before forming officially into Patzy. The band have now returned with their first in a series of planned singles in 2021, “Doin’ Alright,” premiering with Under the Radar.
“Doin’ Alright,” in true easygoing style strips back Patzy’s sound into the barest essentials, feather-soft melodies from Sewalk running over relaxed percussion and lush production from Todd. The track has a perfect Sunday morning energy, an air of gentle acceptance. Amidst it all, Sewalk provides a heartwarming lyrical exploration of overcoming doubt and hope for the future. The verses, while breezy, contain insular reflections on anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty, all the while building larger into an effortlessly catchy hook on the chorus. The gorgeous melodies wash over the listener, assuaging all of the verses’ fears with Sewalk’s simple declaration that he’s doin’ alright.
Sewalk says of the song, “It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the small problems I encounter every day, or even the bigger ones pervading throughout my life. A lot of the time they take me captive – my doubts, my paranoia, my anxiety about the uncertainty of the future. I don’t want to wake up one day years from now and think, ‘where did my life go? I’ve spent the whole time worrying instead of enjoying the best parts of it.’ This song is a reminder to me that every day isn’t the end of the world and that in the bigger picture I’m doing ok. It’s also a fun contrast between the verses and the choruses – the tension continues to build until the big ‘BUT I’m doin alright.’ That lazy guitar riff in the chorus feels like a big weight is being lifted off my chest. No one really talks about these things, but I know everyone deals with them and it feels good to give voice to it.”
Check out the song below and read our exclusive Q&A with the band where we catch up over email to talk about the song, the band, and how they’ve been spending quarantine.
Under the Radar: You both met in 2012 but your first full-length didn’t come out until 2018. What was the path like to forming Patzy and recording that first album?
Patrick Sewalk: Yup, Logan and I met when we first started college in 2012. We lived on the same floor of our dorm, and on the day after move-in I was walking by his room and noticed a Fleet Foxes poster hanging on his wall. I did a double-take and we started talking about music. It became very clear right then that we would team up.
A short time after that we formed our college band, Ivory Coast, which looking back at this point I would call ‘experimental folk-rock.’ The band broke up at the end of college when some of our band members ended up moving, but in retrospect this was a great thing because it forced me to confront some of my personal issues which had hindered the band, mostly involving my confidence with creativity.
At that time I was out of college with no band, no job, and some difficult decisions to make. Logan was my roommate at that time, and I approached him to see if he wanted to record an album from the songs I had written since Ivory Coast’s break-up. It became a question of, is this something that we’re capable of? Do we have the perseverance and determination to write and record a full-length album, start to finish, and get past all of our personal and creative hang-ups? It was really scary at the time, but I finally realized that I couldn’t picture myself living a life where I didn’t make music. Opus Uno was mostly just for the sake of proving something to ourselves. I love the songs, but to me, it represents a first baby-step in a life-long journey of creating music.
How has the band been taking the pandemic? Have you been recording?
I always feel strange admitting this given the scope of the suffering and loss caused by COVID, but the truth is that I was thriving during the first parts of the pandemic. I already preferred to spend my free time in my studio anyways, alone and in limited contact with others, and now I had an excuse to not do much else! The FOMO that I had had in the past had disappeared – I didn’t have to worry about what my friends were doing (because the answer was nothing) and I could just spend my hours doing what I’d rather do, making music. This was at the beginning, but unfortunately, the rest has definitely had its ‘down’ moments. Even at this point there definitely are days when the future looks pretty bleak for somebody trying to pursue a life in music. But the up-side is that we were able to record and finish the four songs we plan on releasing in 2021! This may have happened anyway, but we’ve had ample time to really focus and improve our skills in the studio. We’re emerging better and more determined musicians, songwriters, and producers.
How has your sound has grown or changed since your first album?
That is a question that still drives me nuts. Mostly because I feel like we still have a long journey ahead of us when it comes to developing our sound. Since Opus Uno, my goal has been to escape the prison of the conventional rock band. Aka you have all the typical pieces, drums, electric guitar, bass, and suddenly you don’t sound different from any other band. My goal is to use the instruments and sounds that we have at our disposal as tools or colors in a palette for the sake of getting feelings across, rather than sticking to a certain typical formula or framework. I’ve always really enjoyed the more experimental side of music, but the path to branch out in a tangible way has always evaded me. To give you a concrete answer, our sound hasn’t changed that much in my opinion. However it’s a much more polished sound – we’ve been striving to embrace simplicity, restraint, and patience, and I think I’m much more confident as a vocalist now. From a sonic standpoint, ‘Doin’ Alright’ isn’t particularly ambitious, but we have more to come this year!
Who were some of your inspirations musically for “Doin’ Alright”?
I would be lying if I didn’t name Sam Evian first and foremost as an inspiration for this track (and some other Patzy tunes!) His delicate falsetto makes me swoon, and his groovy, swirly sound hits me in the best spot. Doin’ Alright was born with me just playing it on an acoustic guitar sitting on the side of my bed, but I knew that I wanted it to pack a punch. I can’t get enough of the songs and textures on ‘Premiuim,’ and the drums on ‘You, Forever.’
You’ve said the song is about anxiety and worries for the future. Was writing the track therapeutic in that respect?
Writing ‘Doin’ Alright’ was complete therapy! It’s crazy how we tend to keep the things that worry us and keep us up at night bottled up inside! It was thrilling just saying some of those things out loud. I had no idea what the song was going to be about when the first line came out, but I just kept going with it. Suddenly the song became a fun contrast between the verses and the lyrics – the verses build up the tension and the sad sentiment and you wonder, where’s he going with this, but then the chorus drops, and the tension is released and it’s so satisfying. That’s what this song is for me. First and foremost, it’s me granting myself permission to entertain the idea that I’m not just flailing helplessly through life and that I can take a breath every once in a while.
What are the next steps for Patzy? Do you have another album on the way?
The main next step is continuing to release three more singles during 2021! We’re very proud of them, although they don’t necessarily think they fit together particularly as a collection, more just stand-alone songs. The next is to figure out how the heck we’re going to start playing shows again. It’s an intimidating idea, especially when the pandemic has severely limited our ability to get together as the full band that would perform live. But where there’s a will there’s a way! In the meantime, during the past year, I’ve set myself to the task of becoming a more prolific songwriter. My goal is to write at least a full album’s worth of songs before the end of this calendar year and we’re not off to a bad start:)