The rock ’n’ roll power couple trope is a bit worn-out, but whatever strange alchemy is afoot with Patsy Gelb and Christian Blunda of Patsy’s Rats, it’s working.
“[There’s] a challenging dynamic to the creative process that we are forever learning from,” says Gelb, who shares guitar/vocal duties with Blunda. “I’m not sure if that has to do with us being in a relationship, or if it’s just the nature of having two people write for one band.”
“I can confidently say that our best songs are the ones where she and I were able to collaborate and encourage each other’s ideas,” adds Blunda. “We spend a lot of time together, so there’s that.”
Patsy’s Rats is officially just Gelb (formerly of Scavenger Cunt) and Blunda (who fronts the punk band Mean Jeans), but they call on “a rotating door of rock ’n’ roll vermin-for-hire” to round out their rhythm section. Although this presents the added challenge of working with temporary bandmates, the duo possesses the kind of “fuck it” discipline likely learned from Patsy’s father, Howe Gelb of legendary Tucson rock band Giant Sand. (Gelb’s mother Paula Jean Brown played bass, and was also briefly a member of the Go-Go’s.)
“Sometimes we’re playing a show where we’re very well-rehearsed, and sometimes we’re playing a show where it’s the exact opposite,” explains Blunda. “Which I have learned to embrace; I think it’s natural for Patsy.”
“The downside is definitely teaching new members our older songs again and again,” says Gelb. “I think it has stunted our growth in a way, causing us to move a bit more slowly than we would like.”
That’s not to say Patsy’s Rats hasn’t been productive—since forming in Portland in 2015, they’ve released cassettes through SoCal’s Burger Records, helped soundtrack the cult horror film Green Room, and last year, Austria’s Bachelor Records released a compilation of the band’s singles. After relocating to Los Angeles in December, Gelb and Blunda are currently chipping away at their debut full-length prior to heading out on a European tour this summer. Their feisty pop-punk is destined for comparisons to the Nerves, Shoes, or Dwight Twilley, with the duo’s harmonic interplay anchoring standouts like “Rock & Roll Friend,” “Is It Alright?,” and the fuzzy “Little Rat Charm.” Thus far, Patsy’s Rats has been a welcome change of pace for both musicians.
“Because this band doesn’t have a pre-defined persona, it has brought me an outlet with which to confront certain things creatively that I have never confronted in any art form before,” Gelb says.
“I love doing Mean Jeans, but it’s mostly a joke band,” adds Blunda. “The lyrics are all stupid, deliberately. Not to say that Patsy’s Rats songs aren’t simple or stupid, but they can be whatever we want them to be.”