Regardless of whatever life throws at them, Pandemic Pat & The Murder Hornets quickly rise to the occasion.
The punk-rock solo project of Ferndale vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Patrick Sheufelt captures this fearless sentiment on their confident new single, “Rise,” out March 17.
“A lot of my family and friends have been falling on tough times in the post-pandemic era—lots of heartbreak, financial hardship and just general gloom going around. And I thought I’d write a song to try and fight back some of that darkness a little bit,” he said.
“It’s similar to what I said about ‘Firelight’ on the first record [2020’s Not Dead Yet], where I saw stuff happening (at that point it was the protests and the madmen running the country), and it prompted an emotional response and subsequently a pretty cool song from me.”
Throughout “Rise,” turbocharged electric guitar, bass and drums urge people to seize the day as Sheufelt’s raspy vocals proclaim:
“You danced with me under the snow and said / ‘They’ve got me on the ropes, this time I don’t think I can find my way out,’ / But here you are on your feet again, fighting to the bitter end, leaving these demons so far behind.”
“When I was writing it, one of my traveling friends, Xavier O’Luain, was staying here at the studio. He was a bit of a sounding board for some of the melodies and whatnot. As far as the recording, no one else was on this one; I just wrote all the parts as I picked up the instruments,” said Sheufelt, who started Pandemic Pat & The Murder Hornets in 2020.
“Of course, it started on vocals/acoustic [guitar], then drums, bass and guitars. I always do lead guitar last as sort of the cherry on top of the song. And on this note, I’m looking for band members for this project. If anyone wants to learn some relatively easy parts and go on tour, hit me up!”
Sheufelt also hits listeners with a fast-paced travelogue-inspired video for “Rise,” which features stunning shots of the open road, city streets, studio sessions, black boots and other life-defining moments.
He shot, recorded and collected “run-and-gun-style” footage for the video with his two brothers, Nick Sheufelt and Phil Sheufelt, over a two-and-a-half-year period.
“I wanted to do a video that really showed movement and the passage of time. Some of the shots in there are Nick’s, some are mine. We usually work as a team on just about everything. I shot a lot on my phone while I was traveling for work,” Sheufelt said.
“The boots motif was something I thought of when I was wandering around Charleston, South Carolina by myself, and I thought that part came out pretty nicely. This was the type of video where it was way more about just getting the shot than it was using nice cameras or dialing in the settings perfectly.”
Outside of Pandemic Pat & The Murder Hornets, Sheufelt owns and operates I/O Detroit, a Ferndale-based recording studio and videography company. As the studio’s engineer and producer, he provides tracking, mixing, mastering and production services for musicians across different genres.
“I’ve been putting myself through self-school for like four years doing this. I also went and took a mentorship with Jay Maas of Defeater, which is a hardcore band that I’ve known about for years,” said Sheufelt, who started I/O Detroit, which stands for Input/Output Detroit, in 2018.
“I always really liked the sound of their records, and I found out that Jay does recording and engineering. He was the one that did all those records. I got a tip from Nick Diener [formerly] of The Swellers, and he was like, ‘Use this guy for mastering, and I’m gonna give you this guy’s number.’”
Sheufelt hired Maas to master a couple of his tracks and decided to study mixing engineering with him for six months.
“He sends you all kinds of challenges, critiques your mixes, rips them to shreds and tells you what you did wrong. There’s a whole catalog of lessons that you work through and everything … and that helped tremendously. Since then, I’ve been back to reading books and sitting there listening to records.”
Sheufelt’s strong technical ear helps him identify nuances while listening to a variety of albums, especially ones produced and engineered by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou and mastered by West West Side Music engineer Alan Douches. For example, he can pick out the ideal ska guitar tone and up-picking technique for a band that’s recording with him.
“That’s how I’ve taught myself to mix … sitting there and paying attention,” he said. “If you pay attention to all the different elements, you’ll begin to recognize what goes where and why it should be like that, or maybe you hear something, and you’re like, ‘Oh, it shouldn’t be like that.’”
To record music at I/O Detroit, Sheufelt uses an assortment of high-quality gear, including a 1989 Sountracs MRX 32-channel analog mixing console, along with preamps, an outboard and utilities/monitoring for the control room. That’s combined with different amps, instruments, mics and software.
“It’s a British desk, and it’s transformerless, so it’s extremely transparent. You’re sitting here listening stuff in a good listening environment, and it changes your perception,” he said.
“You start to see like, ‘Oh, that lives on the right side, and that guitar’s over there on the right, but the reverb from that guitar is over here on the left.’ It creates space, and it creates a place for other things to live next to that thing. You start to see this 3D picture of where the sound should live in the stereo field.”
Before starting I/O Detroit, Sheufelt worked for four years as a firefighter and EMT at the Grand Rapids Fire Department. After working long hours, he decided to make a change and returned to music.
The longtime drummer-bassist-guitarist, who had previously played in several renowned local hardcore punk bands and booked tons of sold-out DIY shows across the state, wanted to record a demo for a new project.
“I reacquired some gear, and we started jamming, and I was like, ‘You know what, I want to record a demo. I don’t know where to go, and I don’t feel like paying for it. I’d like to get into recording.’ I’ve always been the recording guy back in the day when we were doing it with shitty setups,” said Sheufelt, who started playing bass at age 15 while growing up in Algonac.
“I recorded myself and my current guitarist [Versus Versus’] Steve Krantz, and we recorded all of our old bands. We were always the guys that did it because no one could figure out how to do it or no one wanted to take the time to read all the manuals.”
Several manuals, textbooks, video tutorials, textbooks and recording sessions later, Sheufelt continues to support a growing clientele and increase the amount of gear at I/O Detroit. He’s currently working with Never the Crash, Easy Beach, Frank White and other bands in the studio.
“I’ve put a significant amount of time into fixing/modifying/tweaking some of the gear around here and just generally continuing to improve the place. Something that’s rarely talked about with studios is the amount of time spent fixing and perfecting the recording rig. It’s a full-time job in and of itself when you’re dealing with a lot of analog gear and a lot of channels,” Sheufelt said.
“Frank White in particular knocked my socks off with the top-tier quality of the songs. Never the Crash is a great band tackling the alternative rock genre in a new and not campy way, which is refreshing for me. And Easy Beach, we’ve taken an interesting approach where the tracks are being recorded elsewhere and flown in here for mixing.”
When he’s not working on solo material or recording other acts, Sheufelt plays drums in the Ferndale thrashcore trio Versus Versus with Steve Krantz (vocals, guitar) and Ryan Spry (bass).
The band is gearing up to release their first new single, “I Know I Know,” since dropping their raw, gritty split album and cinematic video for Wayward with Kill Hours in 2021. Their new single will come out April 20 and feature crushing electric guitar, bass and drums alongside Krantz’s contemplative vocals.
Krantz sings, “When all I know is all I see / Is this all that we’re meant to be? / Or something else or something more / I know.”
“It’s me telling a story that the music created out of thin air. It’s a fever dream about a friend I lost; it’s a mix of emotions—happy, sad, loss, love. All the good makings of a song that moves you in time,” said Krantz, who wrote the track.
“Now, you let people’s imaginations run wild, and that’s what songwriting is all about. The listener gets to interpret the lyrics … all songs have different meanings for different people.”
Versus Versus created that immersive sonic experience while recording the track, which reflects a ‘90s-grunge sound.
“We had talked about doing something more in the rock vein … and a couple of weeks after that conversation, [Steve Krantz] just walked into practice with this new song, and it fell together very quickly. Steve wrote the lyrics pretty much on the fly that day, and then we put it in the set before it was probably ready and played a bunch of different versions of it over the months that followed,” Sheufelt said.
“My main contribution to that one was probably the breakdown at the end. We had something slightly different, and I suggested a 6/8 turnaround, which gives you it that seasick sort of circular feeling. I like to stray outside of 4/4 in my drumming, but you’ve still got to keep a groove, and altering the timing across phrases is a way to do that without being off-putting to the audience.”
In addition to dropping their “badass heavy rock song” soon, Versus Versus will perform May 8 at Detroit’s Lager House and June 10 at Berkley’s Gate Keeper Games. Sheufelt also plans to book shows with Pandemic Pat & The Murder Hornets and continues to work on new material for both projects.
“There is about a full-length record of material written for both projects already and more being piled onto that regularly,” he said, “I’m hoping to put the Murder Hornets together and have a full-length out by the end of the year, and I would expect a similar timeline from Versus.”