When Sydney Star Observer spoke to British singer-songwriter Patrick Wolf, he was in a London bar, trying to pay for a drink and fretting about whether or not his credit card was maxed out. But when this correspondent introduced himself as a writer for a gay magazine, he momentarily forgot his monetary woes.

“Fancy that, I’m in a gay bar. Hang on, it’s a bit loud in here — I might just move to another room so I can hear you better,” he shouted down the line.

“Uh oh, it’s a dark room. I’m in the back room of this bar and people are having sex all around me,” the cheeky singer laughed.
Wolf’s friendly disposition is in stark contrast to his latest album, The Bachelor. After the sunny, string-drenched pop of his previous album, 2007’s The Magic Position, the dark, Gothic sounds of The Bachelor made for a challenging listen.
“I think it’s a grower, this record,” Wolf said, having escaped the dark room.

“I can understand the album might have seemed like a bit of a U-turn for listeners who weren’t aware what was going on behind the scenes when I was making the record — there was a lot of depression in my life in the last few years — but it’s important for me as a musician and a songwriter to always show who I am.”

Once the album was made, Wolf found himself in a loving relationship with a new man (they’re still together), and his outlook quickly lifted. Trouble is, he still has to sing these same emotionally draining songs on stage each night.

“It has been hard to do, and it depends on how drunk or sober I am each night, really. When I’m performing these songs of misery, there’s a temptation to get a double-scotch whisky and just drink through your feelings,” he chuckled.

Capturing his newfound optimism, another album, The Conqueror will be released early next year. Originally intended as a companion piece to The Bachelor, it’s shaping up to be a very different beast indeed.

Wolf has described The Conqueror as a ‘happy, pornographic’ record, influenced both by his relationship and his love of acts like disco outfit Hercules & Love Affair. Groove Armada are rumoured to be producing.

“I want to make an album for the people of the world who feel love, and who are in love. I want to be like Michael Jackson, with a Heal The World-type message,” he said.

Wolf is all too aware that he’ll encounter some opposition with the next, sexed-up album. As with many queer performers, he’s been the subject of particularly intense scrutiny in the past — most recently in response to his low-budget S&M-themed video for the single Vulture, which saw him cavorting on a bed in little more than a jockstrap.

“I’ve always wanted to push those buttons. Soft Cell and Frankie Goes to Hollywood played with those S&M ideas back in the ’80s, but they really haven’t been touched in this day and age.”

And of course, he now has his pert 20-something buttocks immortalised on screen to look back on when he’s an old man.
“That’s true. It was actually going to be a lot more full-on, with some real anal shots, but my boyfriend stopped me from doing that before I made it into a hardcore porno.”

info: Patrick Wolf plays the Metro on December 9. www.metrotheatre.com.au

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