One of the most revered voices in music and a figurehead of soulful pop, Paul Carrack returns to Wales this March in support of his latest album, These Days. The new album features 11 brand new compositions, six written by Paul himself while five are co-written with his old Squeeze bandmate Chris Difford.
These Days took around a year to complete as Paul explains to Andy Howells.
“This one took a bit longer because it was kind of spread out. We decided we were going to wait for (drummer) Steve Gadd to join us as I’d met him through playing with Eric Clapton. We had him for three days and we cut 12 tracks, 11 of which made it, and then we worked on the tracks in between touring. We did backing vocals, horn section and percussion and overdubs.”
One wonders how Paul, former lead vocalist of band’s Ace and Mike & The Mechanics and a multi-instrumentalist approaches writing music.
“I taught myself totally,” says Paul, “I never had a music lesson or anything like that. There’s no chosen way of doing it. Six of these songs I’ve written myself, just messing around in the studio.”
“I think we get away with murder these days. You put together a few chords and you’ve got a tune. I’m doing a few concerts in London and Germany with a Swing band. We do Sinatra stuff which I was never into as a kid, I didn’t get it, but now I really appreciate it. The musicianship, the arrangements and all that. “
“I write simple songs, usually very understandable. There’s no hidden depths and I’ve written five of them with Chris Difford and he brings another slant to it with the lyrics. He’s a great lyricist and brings another flavour to the proceedings.”
These Days is Paul Carrack’s 17th solo album since he started touring as a solo artist 20 years ago. For the Man with The Golden Voice, sometimes his greatest challenge is people placing him as the singer/songwriter who helped create hits with Mike and The Mechanics.
“It’s better than it used to be,” says Paul, “15 to 20 years ago, even when we’d sold a million albums of Greatest Hits with Mike and The Mechanics, I was going out as a solo artist and people really didn’t know. I’ve had to stick at it, constant touring, putting out new stuff. I’ve got a nice little niche but as far as the general public is concerned the brand of Mike and The Mechanics is better known!”
Paul puts down his solo success to pure hard work.
“We’ve never had the backing of a big record label, we’ve done it all ourselves, self-financed and everything. Just by doing good gigs and working away consistently, good shows, a bit of support on the radio. It’s not a bad place to be. I never wanted to be famous, but you’ve got stick your head over the parapet now and again!”
So, with Paul returning to Cardiff’s St David’s Hall, what can fans expect in 2019?
“It’s a mixture we have to walk a fine line because we do some of those hits like The Living Years, Tempted, How Long. It’s not a chore, I love singing them, we’re not a greatest hits band though!”
With so many great recordings in the Carrack collection, its understandable that some of Paul’s fans can be visibly touched by the strength and meaning of tracks such as The Living Years and Over My Shoulder, when seeing them performed live.
“It’s fantastic to have that response,” concludes Paul, “ I never really get it while I’m up there, I think they’re just being nice. When I’m up there working, I’m never for one second, thinking “This is a doddle, everybody loves me.” It’s not until the end when they’re on their feet with smiling faces and they’ve genuinely enjoyed it, then I feel good!”
Catch Paul Carrack at St David’s Hall, Cardiff on March 10, 2019. For more details on Paul Carrack, his recordings and tours visit http://www.paulcarrack.net