This should be quite a year for University of East London student Patrick Evans.
The 28-year-old is due to complete his Music, Performance and Production degree in the summer, and before that he and his band are set to release their fourth album.
Patrick plays guitar and synths in the London-based instrumental rock band 52 Commercial Road. The band’s sound has been likened to Scottish group Mogwai, although 52 Commercial Road’s new work sees a shift towards the area of progressive rock.
The new album, titled Remote Connection, will feature six tracks. It was made possible by contributions to a crowd-funding campaign which saw the band raise 80 per cent of their prospective target. This meant the final recording session, as well as mixing and mastering, were done to the highest quality.
Patrick described this particular album-making process as a “slog” but insisted: “We’ve already surpassed where we thought the band could go in some ways, so simply to be able to have the freedom to be creative, which is easier said than done, was tremendous.”
Patrick was raised in Camden and introduced to music by his father at a young age. He explained: “My dad was always playing a lot of music from a folk background so he was very keen for me to learn the guitar. I eventually found the right teacher and it seemed like a fun thing to do at that age, to meet up with a few mates and make some sounds.”
Patrick and his future bandmates all went to school in north London. In 2003, they formed 52 Commercial Road. The name stems from the old textiles factory of the same name in east London which was once an occupied space and home to more than 70 people.
The band have been associated with a lot of occupied and temporary spaces, rather than conventional music venues. They became known for their political associations and did regular nights associated with activist groups such as No Borders. It’s something they take great pride in.
“For those years it was fantastic to be able to combine making music with our beliefs. We were motivated to get involved with those events and put energy into them because it wasn’t just about us gaining from it,” Patrick said.
The four-piece outfit has played various shows across the UK and even embarked on a 20-date tour of the United States in 2012.
With three albums completed and number four on the way, you may be wondering why Patrick felt the need to go to university.
“I have always aimed to be doing music full-time and I tried doing it off my own back for a number of years and got some way towards that, but a degree seemed like the best option to be able to sustain doing music,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed the work, the challenges of writing about music and also picking up more skills associated to production, and playing with different people,” he said.
Patrick described coming to university and studying music as an “eye-opening experience”, adding: “I do think it has opened doors and it’s changed how I think about things, given me different angles and different ideas about how to approach things.”
Remote Connection by 52 Commercial Road will be released on May 14 and distributed with Truthseeker Music, A Future Without and Fu Inle records.