Paul Carrack Interview
Latest Article: 02/07/2008
To celebrate the release of Pauls's new single, "Aint No Love In The Heart Of The City" (order it now) we're thrilled to be able to offer our readers an exclusive interview with Paul Carrack, conducted over e-mail last week.
Huge thanks to Paul for taking the time out to answer our questions, and to Ian Peel (www.ianpeel.com) for setting it up for us.
Q - You've got a new album coming out, and the lead off single is a cover of the Bobby 'Blue' Bland track - Aint No Love In The Heart Of The City. Is your new album going to be mostly original material, or is it a mix of new and old.
A - It will predominantly new material. At this point I can't think of any other 'cover' that I'm likely to do.
I always liked the Bobby Bland song and we have been playing it at soundchecks so I went ahead and recorded it. I was mortified when I heard about Mick Hucknalls tribute to Bobby album, but relieved (and surprised) he didn't do this song as it's probably one of BBs better known. I can only imagine thats why he didn't do it.
Q - On this album you're working with Dave Robinson as executive producer. How's that worked out?
A - I knew Dave in 1973 when I was in ACE and he ran the Hope & Anchor venue in London, the home of 'Pub Rock'. Dave went on to found STIFF records and ran ISLAND records during a very successful era, when he was responsible for collating and co ordinating Bob Marleys 'legends' album among many other projects. Dave contacted me recently and felt he could help me, in an advisory capacity, to run my label more effectively. Obviously he has a wealth of knowledge in all aspects of the music business and apart from relieving me of much of the day to day co ordination of promotion etc. he has many creative ideas and opinions about music and is a great sounding board. He is a 'glass half full' man where-as I am 'glass half empty' so it seems to work well.
Q - Is the new album all you again, playing all the instruments, singing and writing? Are you finding this to be a more satisfying way of working, or do you miss the collaboration of ideas?
A - Everytime I get half way through a project like this I say 'I'll never do it again' because it's just so much work. It just seems to evolve that as I start to write the basic songs, I start to develop them by adding instruments and gradually build them up and then it starts to sound how I want it to sound so I have to go the extra mile and complete it. I have collaborated again with Chris Difford on a number of songs and the single was recorded with well known producer, Peter Collins.
Q - You've toured quite extensively over the last few years, is it a lifestyle you enjoy, or are you looking to cut down on touring over the coming years.
A - Well I'm not getting any younger so the touring is physically quite demanding but I'm enjoying it so much that I hope I can continue for a long time to come. As a solo artist the live thing has never worked so well for me and in many ways I feel that I am in my prime. I guess if people stop coming that will be the time to slow down.
Q - You've formed you're own record label, which your last few albums have been released on. I remember at the time, you became very disillusioned with large record labels after your experiences with EMI and their handling of your 'Beautiful World' album. Are you happier now than when you were signed to a large label?
A - Much!! Although I also work ten times harder.
Overall I think it was a very good move because I feel much more independent and in control of my own small world. I think this has a liberating effect on me artistically, because I am not watching my back half the time expecting the rug to be pulled from underneath me. I feel that as long as there are people out there interested in what I'm doing and as long as I am producing decent work, I will have the opportunity to keep doing what I love, making music.
Q - With so many artists putting their albums out under their own label, do you think the future for recording artists is going to be more about dealing directly with the fans, via things like special pre-order campaigns (as Marillion have done, by actually getting their fans to pay for the recording of the album before it's released) and digital distribution.
A - I take my hat off to Marillion, as I think they have come up with loads of brilliant initiatives to include their fans who are their lifes blood. There's no doubt that it is the way to go. Many others are waking up to it but as I keep saying, it needs a lot of effort from the artist and believe me they are not all willing to get their hands dirty.
Q - There's been talk recently from both yourself and Mike Rutherford, that Mike & The Mechanics has run its course. Mike has refused to close the door completely though, and has always book-ended his comments with... "but never say never". Is that your take on it too, or are you completely finished with Mike and The Mechanics, and any future collaboration with Mike.
A - I would probably say the same. It was great while it lasted but obviously the untimely death of Paul Young was a great set back. I haven't seen Mike for probably two years as he has been involved with Genesis and I have been busy keeping my show on the road. I think it's unlikely that I would be involved in the future but I can't speak for Mike, who ultimately, owns the name.
But, I agree, "never say never".
Q - Rewired was a difficult album for the band. It sported quite a different sound to your previous album (M6) and was the first without Paul Young. Looking back, what are your thoughts on the Rewired album, both from a musical standpoint, and carrying on after the sad loss of Paul Young.
A - I think the idea with 'Rewired' was to be ambitious musically. I think we felt that the M&M sound had become a bit safe.
The first M&M album was, at the time, fairly progressive, sonically and it was felt that we should attempt to utilise the many technological innovations and embrace Mike's 'progressive' background try to get back to being a bit more 'cutting edge' for want of a better word. Not sure we succeeded but we tried.
I always felt uncomfortable continuing without Paul, especially on stage. I was beginning to establish myself as a solo artist outside M&M and would have been happy to have got on with that but a group decision was made to continue and I agreed that it would be a shame to let it go.
Q - Which Mechanics album is your personal favourite, and for what reason?
A - Probably 'Beggar' but I also like M6 although by then we didn't have the same kind of support from radio and it was nowhere near as successful.
Q - You've worked with so many great artists throughout your career, is there anyone left you'd really like to work with?
A - Not really, I'm quite happy getting on with doing my own thing. So much to do, so little time an all that.
Paul - thanks for your time.