Obsessive, Tax-Paying Active Child Strives for Perfection
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 13:04
If you mixed gospel choir, R&B, harps and a bit of existentialism you would get something similar to Active Child. Singer Pat Grossi is a perfectionist, creating music that must be heard to comprehend. As a young man, Grossi was a choir boy and learned his chops by singing in church. Fifteen years later, he is headlining a US tour after supporting M83 and figuring out his taxes.
College Timescaught up with Grossi as he coordinated lasers, lights and smoke machines for his upcoming tour, which is sure to be a religious experience.
College Times: The last time [College Times] spoke to you, you were opening for M83. How have things changed since then?
Pat Grossi: I think as you tour more you want to kick it up a notch. You just feel more confident and have a bit more to offer the audience. I think right now we’re just trying to make it bigger and more beautiful and more epic as possible. Expect all that, hopefully.
You’ve been touring a lot in the past couple years. Have you gotten used to it?
It’s something I don’t know you ever get use to unless you’re on the road for a week or two and then you kind of accept that your life as being a greasy, smelly road person for a month or two. It’s funny. I didn’t really realize how much touring we had done until I went back and had to do my taxes for the last year. We calculated it and we much have traveled like 30 thousand plus miles in the past year, so it’s been a busy year. It’s been good.
Wow, I never really thought about what it’s like for touring musicians to file their taxes.
It’s a nightmare. [laughs] It’s like you have income coming from all over the planet, but it’s worth it.
You’ve been getting pretty positive feedback. Did you expect people to understand what you were trying to do?
You know I think, for me at least, I always kind of approach a tour feeling like a bit of an underdog. I always kind of have this mindset that it’s never good enough, never strong enough, never good enough. That’s just me so it’s always reassuring to see people be really excited about it and really touched by the experience. It’s surprising and not surprising at the same time.
Do you carry that mindset when you’re recording?
Yes, even more so. Then I don’t have a choice. When I’m on tour, you can always prepare to a certain extent and then you’re thrown out there onstage and do the best with where you’re at as a live performing artist. At home, I can sit and obsess for hours and days over something no one will even notice; a fade out or a harmony that’s tucked behind another harmony that’s not even going to be heard … I tend to obsess a bit too much.
How old were you when you actually started your music career?
It wasn’t even until I was out of college. I graduated and moved to Denver and maybe like a year after I graduated college I started really recording and starting to write and finish songs instead of just messing around with friends. That was the first time I actually finished a project.
I think that’s an ideal age to start working on music.
It’s funny, I have been touring and have this mindset that I’m 22 or 23, but I’m almost 29 [laughs] and I always end up touring with people that are like 20, 21, 22 that are out there already getting their career started. I’m always impressed by their level of artistic maturity. I look back on it and I don’t think I would have been able to do that at that age.
Do you ever think back to your choir singing lessons?
I didn’t really reflect on it that much initially until I started playing music for people, which I didn’t do for a long time. I turned into a little bit of a hermit and was somewhat unsure of how to present it to people. I played it for my mom and some of my close friends and immediately they were like, “Oh, the choir. Your voice has that influence.” I think even if I hadn’t joined the choir I think I would still sing. Before I joined the choir I was still that annoying kid in the car that knew every song on the radio and would sing ever word and every lyric and melody. I remember my brothers telling me to shut up when Ace of Base came on the radio. I couldn’t help myself, [laughs] even if it was just singing in the car.
Active Child w/Balam Acab, Superhumaoids, Crescent Ballroom, April 28, 8:30 p.m., $15