PAUL CARRACK INTERVIEW
A musical institution unto himself, Sheffield’s Paul Carrack has been performing since the late sixties. As well as making a name for himself by way of his 18 solo albums, Paul has performed with artists as diverse as B.B. King and Elton John. Here, in an exclusive interview with “Pulse” author Steve Rudd, Paul chats about his most recent album in the run-up to his latest tour…
Hi Paul, how are things, and how did 2016 treat you in general?
Things seem to be pretty good at the moment. 2016 was a good year. My latest album was very well received, and was very well supported on radio with 5 singles “play-listed” at Radio 2. We had a really good UK concert tour, which continued into Holland, Germany and Belgium. We played a number of great festivals in the summer, including Glastonbury. I also went to Japan, playing organ in Eric Clapton’s band.
2017 is going to see you hitting the road again! What are you most looking forward to about being on tour once again?
Just getting out there on the road with the lads. We have a great bunch of lads who have a fantastic attitude and commitment… something which has been so important in helping me establish myself as a solo artist. We regard every single gig to be as important as the next, and we take pride in putting on consistently good shows. We have a lot of laughs as well. I think the fact that most of the lads have been with me for as long as two decades speaks volumes.
How do you decide which towns and cities to visit? Do you base your decisions on where you’ve attracted particularly good crowds in the past?
Well, we have great support in a number of major cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, but we’ve always been happy to play anywhere in the country, and we will be going to a number of different venues on this next tour.
Do you enjoy playing your songs live as much as you do in a studio setting?
There’s quite a big difference. In the studio, it’s a very controlled environment; if something isn’t working, you can leave it for another day. Touring is much tougher, because you have to deal with all kinds of situations. Also, the audience has not only paid good money for a ticket, but they’ve also taken the trouble to come out of their cosy homes, travel and park, so there’s extra responsibility to put on the very best show that you can.
Has your “style” of songwriting altered over the years in regards to the way you go about writing your songs?
I don’t have a formula for writing songs. I go around putting little bits of ideas on my phone (so I don’t forget them), and then I just work in the studio, at home, developing these little ideas into songs. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, and I don’t put myself under too much pressure. I just do the best I can.
The music industry has changed considerably since you first came onto the scene. How has the advent of digital downloads affected your attitude to recording and releasing new music?
I can’t say my attitude to recording has changed in relation to digital downloads. Our stuff is out there on all the various mediums, and the digital aspect is growing slowly, but I think the majority of our fans are happier with CDs.
Your most recent album, “Soul Shadows,” gave you your highest chart entry to date. It’s safe to assume that your fans have really taken your latest output to heart…
Yes, it’s great, and we are happy about that. Regarding the chart position, in the past we have had a lot of sales directly from our website, but those sales are not recognised by the charts. With “Soul Shadows,” we weren’t able to utilise the online shop due to the illness of our webmaster, so more of the sales came through outlets such as Amazon, with such sales recognised by the charts.
Your solo work aside for a moment, you’re renowned for the number of incredible songs you’ve written for other artists. Have you written any tracks lately for somebody else?
Not really. Most of the covers that have been done by others have been songs I’ve written for myself, with the notable exception of The Eagles, who I wrote for specifically. It was a great honour to have The Eagles record those songs, because they very rarely record songs from outside.
As aforementioned, you recently “guested” on tour with Eric Clapton! How long have you known Eric, and how did you first meet?
I think I met him back in the eighties, but I didn’t really get to know him ’til he asked me to play on a couple of his albums (“Pilgrim” and “Reptile”) in the nineties. I’d also played with him at various charity events as part of a “scratch” band. Three or four years ago, he asked me if fancied going on tour with him to the USA, Far East and Europe, and I couldn’t resist. Fortunately, it all dovetailed beautifully with my own activities. It has meant a really busy few years for me – but I’m not complaining!
In light of the critical and commercial success of “Soul Shadows,” have you started writing songs for what will constitute your 19th solo album?
Is it really 19? Blimey! Yes, I have got a few songs well on the way, but not enough for an album yet. With the tour starting now, I think it will be autumn before I have an album’s worth. I have one track ready to go, which we intend to release as a single. It’s called “Good as Gold.”
Finally, how can people find out more about upcoming Paul Carrack releases and tour dates?
Through the usual suspects such as Facebook and www.paulcarrack.net
Paul Carrack will be performing at York Barbican on Sunday 12th February
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