Blame his beard and unassuming demeanor.
The first time I met Daniel Patterson, I was expecting him to be like a “Game of Thrones” character.
Maybe he listened to doom metal. Maybe he peppered his sentences with profanity.
No, Patterson is more sunny than I had imagined. Always smiling and a self-described nerd, the singer-songwriter has hosted Brew Ha-Ha’s open mic night for seven years. That event is still going strong, kicking off at 6 p.m. Sundays at the Mid City coffee shop.
Just last week, Patterson’s band, Handsome Machines, released its debut album, “Eliza.” A catchy, Strokes-like seven-song stunner, Patterson talked about the new album and what it’s like to change up his style of performing.
I heard from a friend that you have tons of songs.
Yeah, I started writing more seriously a year before I started hosting the open mic, around 2007. That’s how I found my voice, literally and figuratively. I could always carry a tune but that’s when I really started singing.
Your sister, Nora, is in Royal Teeth. Do you come from a musical family?
No, that’s the weird thing. She was always the musical one, since she was 11. That’s when we heard her singing to LeAnn Rimes. I was the quiet, computer nerd. I took piano lessons growing up. I had a guitar. I played along to Green Day, you know? But it wasn’t until college that I really started writing songs. I got my first acoustic, that’s when I started writing and tried putting songs together. By 2007, I had a little more to say.
But with this band you play bass. When did the band start? Why did you make that transition?
We started playing around spring 2013. I weirdly always wanted to play bass. (Guitarist) Stephen (Bowling) has played bass in We Landed on the Moon and a couple other things. We’re all Web developers, and we met up at this convention. Stephen had been playing bass and wanted to play guitar. I had the itch to play bass. The first few months in the band were just me learning how to play and sing at the same time. It’s a much different beast.
You did this album in your bedroom?
Yeah, we tracked drums, bass and guitar in the bedroom of my house. We originally were trying to do nicer demos. We borrowed this eight-input recording device. We wanted to track it live. (Drummer) Pete (Browne)’s wife was about to have her baby, and we had to do it one weekend. We knocked them out in a day. Listening back, it sounded really good. We thought, “Well, maybe we can do this a little nicer than just better demos.” Once the mixes started coming back, it was like the real deal. Our first hurdle was making it sound like it wasn’t done in our bedroom.
You still do the open mic every Sunday. You see the process for these other people. What’s your perspective on performing but also seeing these people perform for the first time?
There have been a lot of cases where it’s people of all ages who are just starting to play or it’s someone who hasn’t played in years, picking it up again. Those first few times, there are some nerves. It’s so much more intimate than what someone might be used to. You’re on the same level as the audience, not on a stage. For me, I love seeing that person’s confidence grow, seeing them start to write. Especially in Baton Rouge, from my experience, a lot of open mic stuff is on a weeknight or at a bar, and starts at 10 p.m. It’s tough for some people to get in, they’re too young or have work in the morning. It’s a little different of a vibe here. Everybody gets three songs if they want them. I try to make it a place that I wanted when I was starting out.