Austin singer/songwriter/siren Patrice Pike is known to many nationally as the contestant on the reality show Rockstar: Supernova who gained a legion of fans with her impressive pipes and her chill, drama-free persona. But local music fans know her as the face of Sister 7, the once prolific Austin band.
Back from her reality series hiatus, Pike is on the road as a solo artist with a new supporting band, pushing her new album Unraveling. She plays the Engine Room (1515 Pease) tomorrow night, and her show promises to invoke the feel-good Sister 7 days of yore. She spent a little time with us talking Rockstar, biodiesel fuel and, um, hobbits. — Steven Devadanam
Steven Devadanam: Is it true that your first gig ever with your new band was Austin City Limits?
Patrice Pike: Yeah, it was crazy for that be our first gig. I put the band together by phone from California when I got off Rockstar. We rehearsed together for a week and a half, then played in front of 12,000 people.
I'm looking at your tour schedule: Colorado, Texas, dates in the West Coast, then New Zealand. That's quite a jump — West Coast to New Zealand. Isn't New Zealand supposedly the most beautiful place on earth?
PP: That's what the hobbits say. (laughs) It's funny, we were trapped in the middle of a blizzard; it took 45 hours for a trip that normally takes about 23. So we watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy since we knew we were going to New Zealand and that's where it was filmed.
Isn't there a big snowy mountain avalanche scene in the first movie?
PP: Yeah! And we were in the snow in the dark, in this 36-foot touring vehicle going over the Rocky Mountains. It was kinda freaky watching that scene while we were in the middle of a blizzard.
I understand your big touring vehicle is actually eco-friendly. How exactly is a 36-foot-long bus environmentally conscious?
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PP: I'm really into touring on biodiesel fuel. I looked into these Dodge Sprinters. They get like 15 to 20 miles per gallon. They have a Mercedes engine. I'm really excited about it — on the West Coast, you can do biodiesel all the time, and in Austin, it's really easy to get.
So I hear you were on a little show called Rockstar: Supernova or something?
PP: You heard about that, huh? Yeah, it was really scary going on the show. How so?
PP: Well, I've really put myself outside of the mainstream in the last few years. So when I got on the show, I had all these indie people saying, 'What are you doing!? You'll ruin your street cred!' But I don't want to be afraid to do something that could be interesting. And when you're always hanging out with people on the fringe, and talking about social justice and not selling out and things like that, you're just preaching to the choir. And it's a terrible thing to be judged for doing something that could be really cool and could reach out to people.
But it seemed like a good career move, like people would see you for two minutes and then hopefully check you out and see what you're about.
PP: Exactly. And that's why one of my goals on the show was to only play music that spoke to this value system that I have, and I accomplished that.
So what did those uppity types say after the show, when they saw how well you did?
PP: Well, the only people who had that cynical point of view revealed that they never even watched the show out of principle. You know, because it was a reality show.
Priceless. Speaking of uppity people, did it hurt you that you basically had zero drama attached to you on a reality show?
PP: Yeah, it definitely put me in the background in terms of face time. But there were a lot of viewers who could relate to that and appreciated that, and said I was their favorite person.
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How did the reality show time help your career overall?
PP: Well, we recently played a show in Wichita Falls, and an older gentleman came up and said, "Patrice, I've seen you a couple of times before, and I have to tell you, your stage presence really improved since you were on the show this summer.'
By the way, we're hanging out with Dilana next week when she comes back to Houston. Got a message for her?
PP: Oh yeah! Tell her, "What up, bitch!" And tell her that I sent her blow dryer to the museum downtown. She'll know what I'm talking about.