Malcolm Gladwell writes in Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to gain true command of one’s chosen art. Patrik Gochez & the Hats have been together for barely a year, but the band is rapidly closing in on that number. A recent Saturday night gig in Bow was the day’s third, following an early morning car wash performance in Concord and a set at a Tamworth home brewer’s festival that afternoon.
“We’ll be better tonight for having played all day,” said Gochez (pronounced with an audible z), sitting on an L-shaped couch in the corner of Chen Yang Li with drummer Bobby Rice and bass player Brenden Harisiades. “This is our Gladwell year.”
Gochez, a Berklee grad, grew up in a musical household. His mother recalled him banging on the piano and improvising songs at 9 months old — perhaps the first of his 10,000 hours. He spent six years playing progressive rock in WhiteShoeBrownShoe, a duo that Yes front man Jon Anderson called “wild and wonderful,” before moving to a more pop-oriented sound.
In 2012, he released Heavy Loader. Gochez recruited his two band mates after completing the solo effort, aiming to take its lush production to the stage. Rice, a friend since high school, was initially leery.
“How the hell are we going to perform live anything even comparable to how it sounds on the record?” he asked.
“Like it was going to be rigid, just reading music — not organic,” Gochez interjected.
“But over time, this project has evolved into something greater,” concluded Rice.
Indeed. Most Pat & the Hats shows these days feature only a few Heavy Loader tracks, among a catalog that’s grown to over 40 songs. While Gochez’s solo effort suggested John Lennon’s Mind Games, the newly minted power trio sounds more like the White Album — a comparison that delights the three Beatles-loving twentysomethings.
“I just love timeless songs that are rich with harmony and melody,” said Gochez.
The band has a polyglot of influences, from late ‘70s punk pop to modern acts like Flaming Lips, all rooted in classic sensibility: when asked to name a favorite album, all three agreed.
“The soundtrack of The Last Waltz,” said Harisiades, as Gochez and Rice nodded. “It’s kind of cheating, but there’s a bit of everything in there.”
Later, the group encored with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
They’ve become ubiquitous around Manchester and Concord, getting booked, rebooked and booked again at area watering holes like The Farm, Penuche’s and Strange Brew Tavern, where they play Sept. 26 and Halloween night.
Perhaps the most gratifying part of this success is that it’s come without compromise. The band plays its own material, and no one shouts a request for “Bad Romance” or “Moves Like Jagger.” One fan even hired the group for a wedding, insisting only that they stick to originals.
If they do play a cover, it typically rips the roof off. Gochez one-ups George Harrison with his guitar pyrotechnics on “Taxman,” and the band does a stellar version of ELO’s “Evil Woman” with the bandleader sitting at the piano.
The hard work and toil is beginning to pay off, with appearances added so fast that keeping their Facebook page up to date is almost impossible. Playing a summer festival in Concord helped build buzz for the band.
“Camp n’ Jam opened a lot of doors,” said Gochez, who lobbied promoters hard for the slot. “It almost seemed as if we were banging our heads against the wall and it was pointless, but six months of persistence paid off. … We all love to do this. We thrive being on the road.”