Playing “groove quarantine” tunes from the Desert to the Top End

— by Rebecca Renshaw

Purple Patch promotional shot, (L to R) Darcy Davis, Joey Klarenbeek, Simeon Shepherd and Jeffrey Klarenbeek. Photographer: Oliver Eclipse

Fusing blues, rock and funk into a unique desert sound, Purple Patch left their hometown of Alice Springs and headed north on their first tour through the Territory in May 2021. Their tour kicked off at Wide Open Space, then they drove up the Stuart Highway to Tennant Creek and Katherine. Stopping off in Darwin for a week, Purple Patch recorded some new tracks in the studio with Lindsay Masters before playing in Nhulunbuy ahead of their final gig at the Darwin Railway Club.

Liz Rogers and Beck Renshaw caught up with Darcy Davis, Purple Patch’s lead singer and keyboardist to find out a bit more about this four-piece band that blend dirty organ riffs with electric guitar, snappy bass and pounding drums. We were intrigued to gain some more insight as to why Purple Patch have been capturing the attention of local music goers since 2019.

How did you all meet?

I [Darcy] grew up with Joey around the corner. We’ve always been friends, since Primary School. Simo was a couple years younger, but we always knew of each other. Jeffrey came later to the picture and used to play in the Simo King Band.

Since returning to Alice Springs from America I just wanted to jam with some favourite musical brothers in town.

When did you decide to form Purple Patch?

We bunkered down during the COVID time and went into a groove quarantine. We got into the studio, wrote and took advantage of that isolation.

Tell us a little about how you came up with the band name and design for the album cover Patchwork.

The name for the band came out of jamming sessions. We would colour our favourite sections of the jam in purple on the software program.

From a distance we could see what the good parts were. Some of it wasn’t very good, but other bits certainly were. Then we decided to call it a patch.

A purple patch is an elaborate or floral passage of prose in a literary context. Or a footy player could be in a ‘purple patch’ if they’re having a particularly good season. I think this has been a good omen for the career of our band so far.

Joey designed the monogram for the cover.

So, in October 2020, Purple Patch released Patchworks Vol. 1, your debut EP. Your about halfway through recording the next EP Patchworks Vol. 2, which is due to be released later in the year following the tour [released November 2021].

Are you working on a new album? What sounds should we expect to hear?

Our music has gotten a bit heavier and a bit weirder, but still funky. We’ve also started working on Patchworks Vol. 3 which will have a lighter disco feel, and funkier.

Purple Patch are inspired by bands like The Doors, Steppenwolf and Queens of the Stone Age. You guys draw upon this classic psychedelic rock and polymer funkadelic styles to harness your unique sound.

Your sets are a mixture of released and unreleased original songs and also some covers, can you expand upon this a little?

We have a philosophy that if we want to be on the same calibre as bands like The (Rolling) Stones or (Led) Zeppelin, then we should learn how to play their music and do it justice. Integrating that style and ethos is a study for us, but we also put our own spin on it, and garnish it throughout our sets.

One new song that really resonates with Purple Patch is Bad Feeling. It took three months to write and ironically the first time the band played it, you all nailed it! Then you all spent a further three months trying to learn how to play it after it was recorded. Tell us a bit more about the journey of this song.

The tempo, the feel, the parts, the progression was a little challenging, however lyrically the song is about living within social disorder and unrest in the town of Alice Springs. Everyone tends to just ignore it and live our lives on the surface even though there’s a sub-conscious bad feeling below it all.

“Livin’ on the edge of a backwater town
the prodigal son with his eyes still open
Livin’ in the middle of a social disorder
he closed his eyes he didn’t notice nothin’ wrong”

Verse 1, Bad Feeling, Patchworks Vol. 2

What is your favourite lyric?

I like the lyrics in Icarus on Patchwork Vol 1. It talks about the mythology of Icarus who got his wings and was told not to fly too high because they’d melt. Modernising this story into a contemporary context resonated with us. No one can really tell you; you need to go on your own journey and learn things for yourself.  That’s the theme in a lot of our music.

[Listen to the lyrics of Icarus]

This is your first tour through the Territory. Tell us what this means to you and the band.

Although growing up in Alice Springs, we don’t tend to travel this far north and we are really stoked to have the opportunity to take our music outside of Alice and share it with the rest of the NT.

We are so grateful for this experience to play and share our music with our neighbours and connect with the rest of the Territory.

Image 1: Purple Patch performing at the Darwin Railway Club, (L to R) Jeffrey Klarenbeek, Darcy Davis, Joey Klarenbeek and Simeon Shepherd. Photographer: Louise Partos

Image 2: Purple Patch in the ABC Darwin studio with Fiona Poole playing some new tunes from their upcoming Patchworks EP. Image courtesy of Purple Patch

Image 3: Purple Patch in the ABC Darwin studio (L-R) with Fiona Poole, Joey Klarenbeek, Simeon Shepherd, Jeffrey Klarenbeek and Darcy Davis. Image courtesy of Purple Patch

Image 4: Purple Patch performing at the Darwin Railway Club, (L to R) Simeon Shepherd, Jeffrey Klarenbeek, Joey Klarenbeek and Darcy Davis. Photographer: Louise Partos

Image 5: Purple Patch performing at the Walkabout, Nhulunbuy (L to R) Joey Klarenbeek and Simeon Shepherd. Image courtesy of Purple Patch

Image 6: Purple Patch performing at the Walkabout, Nhulunbuy (L to R) Darcy Davis, Jeffrey Klarenbeek, Joey Klarenbeek and Simeon Shepherd. Image courtesy of Purple Patch

Image 7: Purple Patch promotional shot, (L to R) Jeffrey Klarenbeek, Darcy Davis, Simeon Shepherd and Joey Klarenbeek. Photographer: Oliver Eclipse

Image 8: Purple Patch promotional shot, (clockwise from L) Jeffrey Klarenbeek, Joey Klarenbeek, Simeon Shepherd and Darcy Davis. Photographer: Oliver Eclipse

Image 9: Purple Patch promotional shot, (clockwise from L) Darcy Davis, Joey Klarenbeek, Simeon Shepherd and Jeffrey Klarenbeek. Photographer: Oliver Eclipse