Paul Carrack 

Paul Carrack has added value to every ensemble he has played with. His series of solo albums are rich with tuneful and relatable songs that seem to stand outside time and trends and like Randy Newman or George Jones you will still enjoy them for years to come. This time around with the release of These Days, the songcraft and top-notch players have created a genuine classic album. Carrack gives direct and informative answers, so do please enjoy this relaxed conversation…

Peter Van Hooke

JLTT: Thanks for your time. We enjoyed the album launch event and it was great to see you. We loved the trio set, especially.

PC: Yeah, well thanks to you both for coming down

What was your feeling about that night, Paul?

I thought it went very well. It seemed to be a good vibe in the room. We did our little set as you say and it seemed to go down well. I got the impression that it was a great success.

Yeah absolutely. The weird thing is this; I’ve known Dave Clarke quite a while, the publicist. But my old boss when I was in Risk Management was Dave Clark who I think was one of your neighbours?

David Clark?

Of Penn Cottage. He was my boss when I was still in conventional business and I still keep in touch with him.

(Laughs) David!

Dave is responsible for me conquering Arithmetic because I had to get that right one day and he actually took me in my twenties and made me understand mental Arithmetic and then applying it to business.

Wow. Well I never!

We’re friends to this day and he sends his best regards!

Please say hello from me. We really get on with them and their three grown up lads but we don’t see much of them. Actually, when we moved in their house there were four generations of the family. Sue and David, their three boys, Sue’s mum and dad and their mum. She was a hundred and four when she passed.

Yeah and do you know I’m responsible for corrupting his sons? When I was working with him, I used to get records and do tapes and pass them onto Dave’s kids and though he was intent on the three of these lads fronting the England cricket team. I completely ruined them by giving them tapes and records! Nevermind… Let’s talk about your record.

Right, good idea.

You’ve got the knack of producing songs that sound like they’ve been around forever.

(Laughs) It’s probably called ‘subliminal plagiarism’ I’d imagine or something like that! I don’t know.

Well also of course, (Chris) Difford has also got a similar approach, rich melodies.

That’s true, yeah.

Although, Difford to me is often the ‘English Dylan’.

Yes – Chris is great. I mean, just to put your readers in the picture you have eleven songs on the album and six of them I’ve written myself. And I co-wrote five with Chris who I knew from my days with Squeeze.

Of course. I saw that Squeeze lineup …Hammersmith

We usually get together when it is time to make an album and we usually do one or two (songs) at least. It’s just nice to have another angle. I think he writes differently when he writes with me. He kinda writes more of that personal stuff. I keep wanting him to write another ‘Tempted’! A story with some pictures and imagery. In fact he did that on my last album which had a song called ‘Bet Your Life’ which was a story about a compulsive gambler and that was a kind of thing. But this record seems to be a bit more personal generally so it is a pleasure to write with him. It’s usually a quick process as well – we don’t hang about. Lyrics can take me a while even ‘Moon’ and ‘June’ takes me a while to tease out something. But Chris is very quick and it makes it a lot less painful! (Laughs)

You used the word ‘plagiarism’ but you’re not being fair to yourself. To me, there are a lot of points in this record (no offence to you) it sounds like you’ve done a demo for another artist. But it is still you. The overall feel for the record ‘These Days’ to me is a kind of warmth. In the material you have worries and concerns and that’s only right because anyone writing songs in today’s world has to mention/acknowledge that.

Yeah, it’s good you connect with that element

I’m a news junkie and the horrors you see when you watch it…

It’s just relentless. I can’t watch it now. I used to be really interested in current affairs and the news and I’ve really cut back on it because it’s just too depressing and biased a lot of the time. So you don’t know where you are getting the info from and all that stuff. I’ve had to knock it back a little bit. I try and keep in touch but politics I’m kind of interested in what is going on. But it just seems impossible to keep track of it.

I get what you mean. In a nutshell for me Paul, people are too trained to dodge questions now. When someone comes along and gives a straight answer whether you like their politics or not, it is so refreshing when you do get a straight response and not another dodge!

You don’t really get a straight answer and that’s the problem. Things can’t be evaded because it is just point scoring. They can’t let their guard down because they know that the other side will be straight in there making a meal out of it. I think we are one of the worst for that. I think some of the other countries do have more open grown-up debates.

Anyway, these songs ‘Amazing’ has this lovely sitar-guitar sound and the crisp horns but I listened to it and thought “Blimey, has Mr Carrack written this for Michael McDonald?”

(Laughs) Well that would be something! I’m a big fan. I’ve written a song with him before actually.

Really? That’s cool

Yeah it is a good few years ago now. He was over in England and he came up to my place and we did write a song which we both recorded our own different versions of it. A song called ‘Love Will Break Your Heart’ that would’ve been around in the late Eighties I think. He’s a lovely, humble bloke and he is very, very talented and not just as a singer. He knows his way around the keyboard.

I’ve got a favourite track on this record but you’ll figure out that. ‘Life In A Bubble’ has these lovely guitar trills and in that you are talking about the troubles that TV portrays. One thing I’ve written in my notes is that “these days you have to be concerned for humanity and if you’re not I think you are very out of sync”.

I mean let’s be upfront about it, Pete: it is not a political album by any stretch of the imagination. ‘Life In A Bubble’ is probably about as political as I get. It is just talking about the news and everything. I’ve got two grown-up kids, I’ve got one grandson and I expect there will be more, I hope they’ll be more. At the same time, I worry I mean what kind of a world are they gonna be coming into? Stepping back, the album generally speaking, is personal and I would say it was more a celebration of where I’m at.

Connecting is key..a strong suit with you

Personally, I’ve been fortunate I’ve had a long career and I’m still enjoying it and things aren’t too bad. I mean we know that life can change of a sixpence. I mean, I learnt that as a kid at eleven years old I came home from school and I never saw my dad again as he had a fatal accident. So I’ve always been a bit insecure and trepidatious. How on earth did we get onto that subject eh?

Life’s twists! ‘In The Cold Light Of Day’ it seems halfway between Joe Tex and Delbert McClinton.

Oh well I’ll take that!

These are people I’ve been listening and I’ve been playing since 66’.

It is a bit of a hybrid.

Is it a set-starter? It sounds like you could walk onstage to this one.

(Laughs) Where would you go after that? I mean, the demo I made of that was just a real basic one strumming guitar. It was really rootsy, bluesy number and when you turn it over to the band it changes a little bit. I think the people at radio call it ‘Country’ but its not really ‘Country. ’ It is a bit of a hybrid. Amazing slide guitar solo by Robbie Macintosh. Just brilliant. I love it and I think it is undeniable.

Ok. There is a Southern Soul feel on ‘Dig Deep’. Which is really your exhortation to keep going even when you get a smack in the face. It has this hint in the background of Arthur Alexander but I don’t know if he is a writer you like.

Yeah most certainly. Some of the names you’re coming up with I’m honoured to be mentioned in the same sentence. I thought that the song does have some country leanings. A pedal steel could sit quite comfortably on that if you wanted to go all the way.

It made me reach for a harmonica and play along!

I mean that was one where I think it came about because I thought I had a title and I turned it over to Chris. I couldn’t conceivable write that myself but I turned it over to Chris and I think he has written a great lyric there. I wouldn’t have come up with some of those lines.

‘These Days’ has got this really nice Marleyesque skip to it but it doesn’t fall into this White Reggae trap because that’s dangerous for people like us isn’t it? (Laughs)

(Warmly) Again it is a bit of a hybrid. It isn’t Reggae because Reggae does have set parameters and format. It definitely has leanings towards that and I might’ve been going for that in the first place but I quickly realised “This ain’t Reggae!” Again, that’s a lyric from Chris. Funnily enough, the first version he gave to me of it was before he’d heard any music. We work in different ways, but this was one where he gave me a lyric and I wrote a tune to it. I wrote it almost like a ballad. But I said “How about making it a bit more optimistic?”

As you say with Reggae, I love Black Uhuru and stuff but I’d never try and play it because it just wouldn’t sound convincing. ‘You Make Me Feel So Good’ has this great bluesy feel to it. I love the slide on that. A bit like how Little Feat played with the keys and guitar when they were kings of the world.

Absolutely. I saw them twice in the early Eighties when they were red-hot. I was actually living in California and I saw them twice at The Roxy on Sunset there. We had tickets for the first show and they were fantastic we actually hid away in the corner and saw the second show and they were twice as good. They were absolutely brilliant.

Yeah Billy’s now actually playing with the Doobies. ‘Tell Somebody Who Cares’, now I like this one a lot because the lyric because the lyric is a twist. You read the title and think that’s almost like a punky thing but it is the exact opposite.

It is! Yeah…

It is encouraging someone to open up to you. I get the impression that the singer wants the relationship to go a couple steps deeper. Or have I got that wrong?

No I think you’re not far off mate. Actually, how it came about is actually a friend of ours who would say this a lot but in the way you originally mentioned. It was one of her sayings but sadly she passed away a couple of years ago. I actually wrote a song for her husband who was absolutely gutted. A lot of his pals were saying “Stop crying and snap out of it” and it is like no you’ve gotta do that. Get it out. I never cry and I haven’t cried since my dad. Nothing can touch me now.

You sound like Paul Young on ‘Tell Somebody Who Cares’.

Really? Funnily enough, when we spoke about that it was more about the soul influences like Marvin Gaye. I suppose I would think of it again a bit sort of Tex Mex in a way. Of course he (Paul Young) has his Tex Mex thing doesn’t he?

Yeah, Los Pacaminos.

I love his stuff. I mean I’m not an afficionado and I don’t know much about him except that back in the day those songs were all around like ‘You Better Move On.’ One of my cousins was really into him and I remember that.

Talk To Me…cool arrangement

Indeed, I like it. ‘Talk To Me’ is one of the ones that changed quite a bit when I turned it over to the band because bear in mind I’ve made several albums where I’ve more or less played everything. I never set out with the intention of doing it but it is part of the writing process. I had a bit of guitar and bass and I kinda started that process with this album. I got about halfway through and then we said we need to get some other flavours in here. It needs to be a performance record. We had the opportunity because I was working with Eric (Clapton) at the time, and Steve Gadd was on the drums. I met him and asked him if he wanted to do some recording and he was up for it. So we actually caught him for three days en route from Europe going home to the States. Then we got Robbie Macintosh on guitar and Jeremy Meek who is the bass player in my band anyway and that was that we recorded the bass and tracks and that was it. That track changed quite a bit. Oh, have you see the artwork for the album?

Yes I have mate – the nice booklet at the launch featured the images

They are all photos that my dad took back in the day and he had a couple of cameras. He was a painter and decorator by trade but he liked to mess about with a camera and I’ve got a box full of transparencies all taken when were all on holiday in what would’ve been the late Fifties. But anyway, you mentioned the imagery which is why I mention the artwork.

Could you tell me about ‘Best I Could’?

The song ‘Best I Could’ again Chris and I wrote together and I had an idea of writing a song called ‘The Best I Could’ hoping that I could say “I’ve done the best I could” to myself, family, friends and all the rest of it. And I thought that I would like to say it and that’s all I can ask for really.

Have you ever thought about doing a duet with a female?

Well I have thought about it because I think a lot of the songs would translate I think as I think I’m very in touch with my feminine side when it comes to writing! But I think what’s put me off and why it has never got off the ground is the politics of it that worries me a bit. The business aspects of it, the flipping managers. I love the idea of it musically and I’ve done the odd duet but it is always the same with those collaborations – people say “It would be great to do a collaboration with all of the people you’ve worked with in the past”. Of course it would be, but I always imagine it would likely be a nightmare politically! (Laughs)

And yes, I’ve seen that happen. I love backing other singers and the odd duet…

(Sighs) I love singing with people. I love harmonising and we had a project with Nick Lowe, Andy Fairweather Low and myself. We made an album of stuff which has never seen the light of day and we did a few gigs with just the three of us acoustically. People actually loved it.

I’ve done an all-tracks review of the album. Glenn loves the songs, too

Thank you. Thanks Pete.

Pete Sargeant

 



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(With a lot of thanks to Dave C and to Paul)

Feature Image & Paul Carrack Bridge Photo Credit: Peter Van Hooke

Paul Carrack Black & White Photo Credit: Lena Semmelroggen

Additional Photos: Supplied By Artist

Paul Carrack’s new studio album ‘These Days’ is out now on his own record label Carrack-UK. It is available as a standard CD, Deluxe CD Set, Vinyl and Download.

The track-by-track album review can be located here: http://bit.ly/2NOZgzz

For more information visit his official website here: http://bit.ly/2M0nNfV

Paul Carrack has announced a special one night only ‘Another Side of Paul Carrack featuring the SWR Big Band and Strings’ show on Sunday 16th December 2018 at Playhouse Theatre, London, United Kingdom. Tickets are onsale now from here: http://bit.ly/2KzPcpr

In addition, Carrack will embark on an extensive 29-date UK Tour in 2019 that commences on Friday 18th January 2019 at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, United Kingdom and concludes in March 2019.

Special guest on all of the dates will be Lauren Ray.

The 2019 UK Tour will stop at the following venues:

 

Friday 18th January 2019 –  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2nabbqP

Saturday 19th January 2019 –  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2nabbqP

Sunday 20th January 2019 – Town Hall, Leeds, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2DG2kol

Friday 25th January 2019 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2o9Nhwy

Saturday 26th January 2019 – Barbican, York, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2amLlJS

Sunday 27th January 2019 – Sage, Gateshead, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2a3RVJk

Friday 1st February 2019 – Concert Hall, Perth, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2LUAAAM

Saturday 2nd February 2019 – City Hall, Hull, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2zynvqA

Sunday 3rd February 2019 –  Corn Exchange, Cambridge, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2a1l5XR

Friday 8th February 2019 – Pavillion Theatre, Bournemouth, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2p0bJzI

Saturday 9th February 2019 –  Pavilions, Plymouth, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2mmVBrR

Sunday 10th February 2019 – Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2NQ2iPE

Thursday 14th February 2019 – Royal Centre, Nottingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2kNM1yH

Friday 15th February 2019 – Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2K47WeB

Saturday 16th February 2019 – Winter Gardens, Margate, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2peaYaP

 

Friday 22nd February 22 2019 – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2OnalVj

Saturday 23rd February 2019 –  Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2LWQXg8

Sunday 24th February 2019 –  Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2G5okcQ

Friday 1st March 2019 – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2oW0Ui4

Saturday 2nd March 2019 – Palladium, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2gMBxeI

Sunday 3rd March 2019 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2o9Nhwy

Friday 8th March  2019 – G Live, Guildford, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2hxNhSe

Saturday 9th March 2019 – Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2rGRlqV

Sunday 10th March 2019 – St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2a2nVLc

Thursday 14th March 2019 – City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2kH5sd4

Friday 15th March 2019 –  De Montfort Hall, Leicester, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2k9riHO

Saturday 16th March 2019 – Brighton Centre, Brighton, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2nX6PE6

Friday 22nd March 2019 – Town Hall, Middlesborough, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2G6W6QI

Saturday 23rd March 2019 – Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2vcDHgg

Sunday 24th March 2019 –  Lowry, Salford, Manchester, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2ocv9U9