It wasn’t long ago that Montreal’s Patrick Watson was an unknown musician trekking across the trans-Canada. But, after receiving a new group of the year Juno nomination and winning the Polaris Music Prize in 2007, Watson’s sophomore record, Close to Paradise, became a favourite listen among indie fans around the world.

It was a heady time for the guitarist and singer who says winning the Polaris Prize made a difference. “It was significant in Europe, maybe because the Canadian music scene is so strong,” says Watson on the phone from Berlin. “It has more weight than the Junos when it comes to bands in the same scene as Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade.”

Now, with a dedicated fan base behind him, this week Watson and his band released Wooden Arms, an atmospheric collection of lush, Radiohead-like tunes.

The disc was recorded just after the band finished a two-year tour in late 2008, so the group hasn’t experienced much downtime. They have no plans to push themselves as hard this time around. “We won’t tour nearly as much for this record,” he says. “We don’t want to do that over again.”

Watson’s reluctance to embark on a lengthy tour is one reason why the band churned out the new record in a matter of weeks. He wanted to release an album quickly to capitalize on all the travelling the band has done, and he hopes it’s good enough to satisfy the fans that won’t be seeing him play.

“We felt a little rushed,” he reveals. “We could have taken a couple more weeks mixing, but, because we toured so much we didn’t want to start from scratch in Europe. We wanted to keep the ball rolling until we have a spot in people’s hearts.”

It’s likely the new disc will keep Watson on people’s radars, thanks to its quirky influence. “Cartoon music from the 1940s,” says Watson, explaining where Wooden Arms’ inspiration came from. “That music was more percussive, dryer sounds, almost a room recording. In the song Beijing the instruments are being used as a narrative sound, like when Bugs Bunny would fall off a cliff.”

In that same song the group tried something else that might sound a little different — they used pots and pans instead of drums. “Robbie (Kuster) went into the kitchen and just grabbed some pots and pans and that was the way it was going to be,” says Watson.

Patrick Watson plays
• Toronto: Trinity St. Paul’s United Church, May 2, 2009.

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