Patrick Spiroff is never happier than when he is singing a sad song. “I like nothing better than writing a song that stirs the emotions of the listener.” But he isn’t just a one sad trick pony, in fact a lot of his repertoire consists of songs that grab you by the lapel and demand that you listen. At heart he is a storyteller, whether that story be based on some aspect or episode in his own life, or invented whole cloth. But fair warning, often it is a story with a dark side. “I try to write songs that are fun to listen, where you will enjoy the melody but doesn’t require you to pay close attention to the lyrics to enjoy. But if you are like me and you do, well, that will add a whole fuller dimension to the song.”
Born in Dearborn, MI, Patrick moved to Chicago a few years after college. Not knowing a soul, he tried to re-invent himself playing open mics under the moniker Joel Taylor. Three songs he composed in that era survive today and are part of his current 31 and counting original song set list. But the life of a starving artist lost its charm. He met a girl, he fell in love and he put his guitar in its case, and the case gathered dust.
But in 2008, with his children older, a series of events led him to picking his guitar back up, and when he did, new songs just started flowing out of him. The song “On This Christmas Day”, the fourth track on his 2013 EP “First The B-Sides”, was the first emerge. “It song about two broken people who find each other and their love makes them whole.” If you have to put a label on his style of songwriting, it has been described as Folk Rock with dashes of Americana, while other songs as best described as gut punch ballads. He prides himself on keeping his songwriting eclectic and pushing himself to go somewhere different and fresh with each new song. “ I’ve been heavily influenced by Bob Schneider, an Austin, TX based songwriter. It seems he is always channeling different genres and sounds, putting them through the “Bob” grinder and writing some real unique great songs. I’m trying to emulate that ethos with my songwriting.
Patrick has been a regular on the Chicago open mic scene these past few years. He formed a 4 piece band “Borodin” in early 2010 and they were gigging about once a month, trying to play clubs where the audience was open to original music. But when his drummer spontaneously combusted in June 2012, Patrick decided to focus his energies on recording hoping to more easily reach a larger audience and possibly gig in bigger clubs. “I truly just want people to hear my songs and say to themselves, hey that guy ain’t half bad.”
He self-released a six song EP on Bandcamp.com in March 2013 titled “First the B-Sides”. “I did this project with two of the my Borodin bandmates in a one take live in studio format. I recorded 18 songs and then just picked the 6 that I felt didn’t need any more than a good mix because in truth I ran out of cash. But I didn’t think these were my strongest songs, just the most complete takes, hence the title of the EP.”
Currently Patrick is back in the studio working on a yet untitled full length CD. “I decided for this project to work with a producer and felt fortunate when John and Billy agreed to work with me and do it.” John Condron is a Philadelphia born singer-songwriter, musician, & producer, who has produced works for others such as multi platinum Irish singer songwriter Mickey Harte, the legendary songwriter Paul Brady and Chicagoland singer songwriter Allison Flood. William Aldridge is bassist and horn player, a Sound Engineer and the owner of Third City Sound in Joliet, IL where the project is being recorded. Patrick is keeping his fingers crossed for a Late-Spring 2015 release.
Meanwhile, Patrick is still hitting the open mics and has the first Thursday of the month residency at the Chicago Street Pub in Joliet, IL since June 2014. He also performs in various Songwriter Showcases both in the Chicago and its suburbs. “Other than the residency, I typically play one additional gig a month. I wish I could say I was a full time musician, but the truth is I have a wife and kids, and providing for them has to come first.”
But no matter what, he’ll keep writing songs, because it is the process of songwriting that he enjoys the most and makes him feel alive. “I love the feeling I get when I finish a new song, the act of creating something that was not there before.” Then to perform those songs and see their effect on his audience, well that’s just the icing on the cake.
When he took his guitar back out of its dusty case a few years back he re-awoke something and found his way back to his true self.