Patch and the Giant launch their debut album at London Fields Brewhouse

Patch and the Giant. Picture: Ben Bentley

Patch and the Giant. Picture: Ben Bentley - Credit: Archant

Angie Rance and Luke Owen from folk group Patch and the Giant talk to ZOE PASKETT about releasing their album and being related to an old Hackney Mayor

Angie Rance and Luke Owen from folk band Patch and the Giant met on Gumtree, but they’re hesitant to admit it.

“For some reason we’ve kind of wanted to keep that as one of the skeletons in our closet,” says Luke. “But it’s fine, it’s the 21st century.”

He was advertising for a trumpet player for one of his other projects that didn’t really pan out too well.

“They did one gig that I couldn’t make,” says Angie on responding to the ad. “I was like ‘hey guys, how did the gig go?’ And everyone had left the band because it went so badly, so I was suddenly the only person left.”

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“Had you attended that gig, I don’t think we’d be in a band anymore,” Luke laughs. “So it’s very fortunate that you were busy.”

Living in Hackney Central and Homerton respectively when recording their new album, All That We Had, We Stole, Angie and Luke both now live in Stoke Newington.

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But that’s not the only link to the area.

“My great, great, great-grandfather was called Thomas Pitt and he was the mayor of Hackney in the mid-late 19th century,” says Angie, “and he was one of the founding members of the National Union of Teachers. Obviously, I’ve never met him, but we found a copy of his obituary among a load of old photos. I’ve no idea how he came to be mayor of Hackney though!”

The group has worked through a few line ups but six years on they are releasing their debut album.

Playing just short of 15 different instruments between five musicians, Luke is on lead vocals, guitar and mandolin, while Angie takes on backing vocals, accordion, trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, harmonica and also mandolin.

Nick Harris, a singer-songwriter in his own right, plays bass and acoustic guitar, percussion, harmonica and banjo, with Derek Yau on cello and double bass and Gabriel Merryfield on violin.

“Ironically, in the band the instruments the musicians play now, they didn’t start playing until we said ‘oh we need an accordion, Angie, learn the accordion, Nick, learn the bass!’” says Luke.

“Derek only learned to play the cello when he was 27.”

“There’s quite a nice community between musicians around the folk music circuit in London and we’d be with other bands and have a jam and go this sounds good!” Angie adds. “Our violin player now joined the band by Luke saying ‘hey Gabe wanna play with us?”

They are launching the new album with a gig at Hackney’s Brewhouse.

“For this gig we’ve also collaborated with We Used To Make Things, who are from Stoke Newington as well, and they’ve just put out their new album.

“We’re going to play for the only time ever through the entire album. There are a couple of tracks on there that we’ve never performed. We’ve got quite a lot of extra players: Our producer is going to come and play guitar, our violin player’s mum is going to play double bass.”

“I’m not entirely sure if we’re all going to fit,” Luke adds.

Filling out the smaller venues is a familiar feeling, as the group used to host a folk night at Highgate’s Boogaloo, allowing them to “steal” musicians from other groups.

PATG’s debut album is an amalgamation of songs they have written since coming together.

“A lot of them are songs we’ve been playing for five years, so it’s kind of funny releasing a single and people saying this is our new single when it’s a song we’ve been playing for six years,” he says.

“But I guess that’s the nature of debut album.”

Their process of music making has taken twists and turns to find where they are now. They don’t have one method, and believe that this is what keeps their music fresh.

“The early days were fun and interesting because this was the first band I’ve ever been in,” says Luke. “So I would turn up at band practice and have all of these people looking at me going what are we doing? And I would be like I don’t know! I don’t know how this works!”

“Luke tends to bring at least a 90 per cent finished song to the group on most occasions,” Angie adds. “With a few of the earlier songs, they began from a jam in one of our houses. You’d come over for tea and biscuits…and beer and whiskey and wine.”

“I went through a stage of writing songs that were structurally identical to Bloc Party songs,” says Luke.

“If we’re maybe struggling for a new stimulus we’ll go ok let’s write a Bob Dylan song, let’s write a Foo Fighters song, or Green Day. We’re only going to sound like ourselves because we’ve got all these instruments, but in our heads we’re thinking oh this sounds a little bit like green day and then it’s into Bloc Party and then we’ll finish with Vaughan Williams!

“But it’s only ever going to sound like Patch and the Giant.”

Patch and the Giant launch their album at the Brewhouse in London Fields on February 10.

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