Paul Raymond Project
It's presumptuous to say that a record released in early January could be the Record of the Year but I stand behind my previous announcement. The Paul Raymond Project's latest release, Terms and Conditions Apply, is an absolute jewel of a record. Every song is a stand-out and Paul's vocals sell every song. I was lucky enough to catch the UFO keyboardist/guitarist between tours for a quick email interview to talk about it.
antiMusic: The last Paul Raymond Project release was a few years back. Why was this the right time for a new release?
Paul: We'd written it, recorded it, mixed it and mastered it! So we figured now was the time to release it!!
antiMusic: How did the record come together? Which tracks were the catalysts to bring about a full-length record?
Paul: Andy sent me a demo of music. I guess "End of Life" and "Terms & Conditions" were the catalysts. After I'd written them, I played him some of mine. Then we shared the ideas with Mark and Tony. The whole thing started to take shape.
antiMusic: There is a great mix between rockers, ballads and some mid-tempo material. Was it important for you to have a cross-mix of material or were these just the strongest songs of the bunch that came out?
Paul: There were a couple of songs that didn't make it actually. A bluesy thing called "All Hell Broke Loose" and a 6 and a half minute epic called "Welcome to the Real World." We had plenty of material. I wanted to keep the covers in because they turned out so well.
antiMusic: Tell us about your partnership with Andy Simmons and what role he played in the creation of Terms and Conditions Apply.
Paul: This is our 3rd record together over 14 years. Sometimes he drifts away when I'm busy with UFO. He's a brilliant musician and artist. Besides his guitar playing on the album he also contributed his multi-layered keyboards to some of the tracks.
antiMusic: Let's talk a bit about some of the songs starting with my favs. OK, that would be cut 1 through to 14 . Alright, to save you a hand cramp, we'll narrow it down to a couple. "We Will Be Strong" is stellar! Were you channeling Queen when you wrote that since the song structure, bombastic chords, guitar sound and "We Are the Champions"-like verses definitely have a Mercury/May flavor?
Paul: I actually wrote the chorus to this song back in the '80's. I never found a verse that I liked to go with it. Then I came up with this one. I thought is this a bit too 'Les Mis?' My wife said she liked it. I showed the idea to Andy and he created the mega guitar bits. The 2nd part was another song completely and the last bit -well, just felt like it was dying to be put in there! "HELLO WEMBLEY!!" type of thing!
antiMusic: The title cut is classy but still rocks. What inspired this song?
Paul: This was one of Andy's demos. The financial markets were crashing and every other day another bank was in trouble, so I just started putting all that to his music. Magic! Took about 45 minutes. Sometimes you get lucky with songs.
antiMusic: "End of Life As We Know It" sounds almost like a rocked-up version of The Hollies. What can you tell us about this song?
Paul: I used to be a big Hollies fan. Which song in particular were you thinking of? This was a song that took me 2 months to write. Sir Elton says if he doesn't get it in 15 minutes he scraps it. Not me. I loved the music and I knew there was a story to tell. It's about severe depression. Thankfully I have never suffered but I have friends who have a really hard time with it.
antiMusic: "Reach Out" would seem like an odd choice to be given a rock makeover. Having said that, it turned out great. Aside from it being a great song, what prompted you to give it a bit of a facelift?
Paul: It's that 'chug chugga chug chugga chug thing! Reminded me of "Lights Out". I knew it had to have some cool riffs in there and definitely no flutes! It's another track that grew as it went along.
antiMusic: You've played at least one show now. How does this material translate live?
Paul: We only played four from this record. The rest of the show was songs from past releases. "Man On a Mission" and "Raw Material", and also a Savoy Brown song, etc. Plus a couple of obscure UFO songs that had never been played live. The audience loved it.
antiMusic: What can you tell us about the cover art and how it relates to the title?
Paul: You know this was a tough one. Honestly, I think I was inspired by the Brian de Palma movie poster 'Dressed to Kill". It also owes something to Jack Vettriano whose paintings I absolutely love. He's got a thing about women's legs too!!
antiMusic: While it seems you're playing mostly guitar on the record, you still divide your time with keys. What do you mainly compose on and what do you feel is your main instrument?
Paul: I write on the guitar because rock is all about guitars. I have no formal training on guitar, and being self-taught I have no idea what I'm doing really. It's less structured than playing on a keyboard so it doesn't inhibit me. I am, of course, a keyboard player first and foremost.
antiMusic: What are the chances of a North American release/tour?
Paul: That would be nice. However, I don't know how many people I could draw on my own, to be quite honest.
antiMusic: In closing, if art is indeed an expression of self, what do you hope that listeners have learned about Paul Raymond through Terms and Conditions Apply?
Paul: It's hardly Beethoven or Chopin. They don't have to learn anything from it. It's definitely my best album to date so my only hope is that people enjoy it and remember it in the years to come.
Morley and antiMusic thank Paul for taking the time to do this interview.
Visit the official website here.