The future wasn’t looking too bright for English art-rocker Patrick Wolf three years ago.
Single and lonely, he had stopped eating and started partying instead, culminating in a weeklong motel stay in Hollywood, waiting to appear on a U.S. talk show, which, he says, he spent “listening to the air vent and hearing things in the electricity and just going really mental.”
“I wasn’t sober, I was really crazy and falling in with a bad crowd — I was a train wreck, going through my own Britney Spears meltdown.”
The depression only deepened when Wolf — who plays The City on Thursday — got home to his London flat, which was still stacked with unpacked boxes from a move three years earlier, its kitchen covered in mold.
“I’d done a Burberry modeling campaign when I was that emaciated, so my face was splashed across billboards in all the big cities,” he says. “So I became very reclusive and locked all the doors in the house, thinking ‘I just can’t face the world.’”
Wolf turned that torment into elegiac art, first by documenting his derailment in 2009’s cathartic “The Bachelor,” then by trumpeting his life-affirming new relationship with his significant other, William, on his latest set, “Lupercalia,” named for a pre-Roman fertility ceremony honoring a she-wolf.
There’s an obvious lupine metaphor running through plush paeans like “House,” “William” and “Slow Motion.” “It’s a festival of love for Patrick Wolf,” he says, “because I’m celebrating love, rather than wallowing in misery, thinking I’ll be alone forever.”
The transformation began via an otherworldly message from Wolf’s deceased grandmother, delivered by his cousin, a practicing medium.
The spirit had specific instructions. “She said I had to leave the house that night, and I had to clean myself up and dress nicely,” he says.
He ventured out, met William on a nightclub balcony, and was instantly smitten. “That’s what ‘Slow Motion’ is about — falling out of the slow motion of depression, into the beautiful slow-motion moment of love at first sight,” he adds.
The once flamboyantly clad Wolf is now cultivating a suited look he calls “the sophisticated gentleman, like Bryan Ferry.”
William also oversees his merchandising company, and the two travel together as a business team. At home, they’ve embraced domesticity.
Fans might find Wolf’s rock star existence exotic. “But my exotic was learning how to cook or to do something really simple, like Hoovering or cleaning the toilet,” he says. “Even cleaning a saucepan for me was like, ‘whoa! I don’t normally do this kind of thing!’”
If you go
Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Contact: (415) 474-0365, www.bimbos365club.com, www.ticketfly.com