Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Paul Raymond Project (PRP) was first formed in 1989 in Japan.
The original line-up included Frank Di Mino (formerly of Angel) on lead vocals and Masoyoshi Yamashita (Loudness) on bass. The band recorded a mini-album “Under The Rising Sun” for Teichi Ku Records, however this line-up was relatively short-lived. Paul spent 1990 writing new material, inspired by the resurgence of straight-ahead blues/rock led by bands such as the Black Crowes and the Quireboys. In 1991 he re-formed the band with unknown singer Aki Fukasawa, retaining original guitarist Reibun Ohtani. They laid down some demo tracks and toured in Japan but it wasn’t until 1996 that these songs became reincarnated as the album “Raw Material”.
Paul rejoined the classic UFO line-up with Michael Schenker in 1993 and had recording and touring commitments throughout the mid 90’s. When the band once again went their separate ways, Paul, who had now moved back to the UK began concentrating on writing new material for PRP and recorded the album “Man on a Mission” with guitarist Andy Simmons and drummer Stefan Kadar. This album, released by Zoom Club records returned to the hard rock feel of the original PRP album.
It was to be 9 years before Paul and Andy joined forces again and recorded “Virtual Insanity” as UFO had once again intervened! Whilst touring with UFO in 2010, Paul was introduced by friends to bass player Mark Coles and drummer Tony Steel from Workington in the North West of England. Together with guitarist Andy Simmons they began working on “Terms & Conditions Apply”.
Michael Schenker agreed to play a guest solo on one of the tracks, and a recently renewed friendship with Stampede vocalist Reuben Archer culminated in a collaboration on a couple of songs, one of which is included on the new album.
Paul’s first priority will always be UFO, but PRP is his opportunity to express himself musically with his own material and join forces with other musicians when UFO are not touring.
Paul Raymond – lead vocals/lead & rhythm guitars/keyboards
Andy Simmons – lead & rhythm guitars/ keyboards
Mark Coles – bass/backing vocals
Tony Steel – drums/backing vocals
Prior to the release of the album I had a chat with Paul.We discussed a track by track breakdown of the PRP”Terms&Conditions”,and other musical memories of his long and varied musical career including the Ufo connection with the apparent”new “bonus album tracks.
.Unfortunately due to “technical problems “I lost the first 4-5 minutes of the interview.It starts just as Paul is finishing explaining track 5″ We will be strong”
Paul: ……”and Andy put his trademark solo on it,and that’s come out really well I think”We will be strong”…”Terms and conditions “This is a song created by Andy ,the guitar player ,I wrote the lyric for that one in about twenty minutes” At that time the banks were crashing . It was the height of the financial misery, so that was a very easy song to write and it became the title track. Let me know when I am boring you by the way”
Myglobalmind: “Not at all,I think that it is interesting for people to know the stories behind the songs”
Paul: “Whiskey Mac”that is totally Andy,s creation,and very good it is too.I’m sure that Michael Schenker would pick that one,he always picks Andy,s tracks.”Bright Lights”this is again a bit in the John Mellencamp style . I went to see John Mellencamp in concert and I really enjoyed his show. I am a fan of his,its simple music and the inspiration there. “Reach out(Ill be there),, its not a song that I am really crazy about by the Four Tops.
Myglobalmind: “I thought that was a particular unusual choice of cover myself,when I heard the album”
Paul: “I thought that it could be heavied up and I think that I managed to achieve that.Michael(Schenker)said that he would do a solo for me.I threw it his way and overall I think that it has worked pretty well.You don’t like it?”
Myglobalmind: “Not necessarily I was merely expressing my surprise at the song selection, that’s all”
Paul: “Well its a different version,there is no point doing it as they did it.Actually I have done another cover of “Walk away Rene” which is another one of their songs.That is interesting,although it hasn’t found a place on the record.”Love is blind”now Andy Simmons came up with this beautiful music and everything I sung to it,I thought sounded like Lionel Ritche.I actually played it to Reuben Archer(vocalist on this track),and he said can I write something to that.I agreed,and he came up with that,which worked pretty well.”If you are going to make a fool of Somebody”-I always liked this song even though it was in Wolf,s time.Actually Phil Mogg gave me the idea for this he said “Can we do either “Go now” or “If you are going to make a fool of Somebody”.Everybody laughed,and said “Its a waltz-Freddie=the dreamers”and they made jokes about it.It got me thinking, I thought that I could probably think of an arrangement for it.I decided to just keep it for myself,so there you go.The last three”Still the same,Drifting Apart,and Partners in Crime,are the bonus tracks. Musically they have already appeared on UFO records.For instance “Still the same” is “Fight Night” and “Drifting Apart”is “Forsaken”Partners in crime”is “Villains and thieves”I thought what I had written to the music was valid as well ,so rather than offer it as part of the album I thought that I would offer it as a bonus” A lot of people don’t even get it,they do not understand or recognize that they have heard the music already. They ask me why I have made them bonus tracks. So that is about it,that’s the album”
Myglobalmind: You are doing a few regional dates to promote the album,including a London date.Recognising that UFO are your full time job,are there any other plans for anymore dates with the Paul Raymond release?
Paul: “I have to fit around UFO, we have a UK tour in February/March. ”
Myglobalmind: Fits in nicely with my next question.The band have played Belfast on their last 2 tours but not this time,any particular reason for that?
Paul: “Nothing in Belfast?,I don’t know why that is.
Myglobalmind: A few people have asked me to put that question to you,although it is probably more a question for management”
Paul: “No I shall speak to my manager about it”
Myglobalmind: The last 2 gigs in Belfast were great shows.
Paul: “Yes I think we came when Pete Way was still in the band, Andy had broken his ankle and we had Simon Wright standing in for him. I really don’t know Mark why that is that there is no Belfast date.I really shall have to ask about that”
Myglobalmind: Any other touring plans then for PRP. ?obviously UFo,s schedule permitting.
Paul: “We have some festivals in the summer, and Ive asked my manager already to look into getting PRP onto some festivals as well. Definitely looking into doing some other dates because we have learnt all these songs, and it has been really hard work for the guys. They deserve to get to play them somewhere else. We have got the showcase coming up on Friday week(London)and that’s the only date at the moment. Looking forward to that though.”
Myglobalmind: Moving on now to some general career questions..Firstly you have been in the music business for quite some time but what is the biggest misconception about you?
Paul: “That I am the quiet one”
Myglobalmind: Maybe just better at hiding it perhaps?
Paul: “No I just think that there are so many characters in Ufo ,that maybe sometimes I just get…..”
Paul: “Yes exactly, kind of brushed aside, whatever but I am definitely not the quiet one. I am out to prove that right now with my own band, and I do have teeth”
Myglobalmind: What is the most difficult decision that you have ever had to make ,throughout your career. Anything instantly spring to mind?
Paul: “I think that was when I was living in Los Angeles in the eighties.And I got this band together with Terry Reid the singer. He has a mega voice. In fact he was going to be the singer in Led Zeppelin , then he said that he thought he could not deal with some of the heavy stuff to Jimmy. He told him that he knew this kid called Robert Plant,singing in the Band of Joy.He actually passed on Led Zeppelin,he has an amazing voice.I was doing this thing with Terry,and to be honest with you we were struggling for money. Pete Way told me that he had a deal with Chrysalis Records for my own band Waysted and asked me to be part of it. After some deliberation, I said yes and I let Terry Reid down. He has never spoken to me since, and I’ve always regretted it and I feel really bad about that”
Myglobalmind: Whats one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self-any lessons learned over the years?
Paul: “Stick to one instrument(laughs), playing two at once is very difficult. In fact Dan Mcafferty from Nazareth said (effects strong Scottish accent)”You’ve got to be the busiest man in show business. A bit of guitar there, a bit of keyboards, backing vocals. He was pulling my leg, but yes I should have stuck with one instrument. Though Steve Winwood made a living out of it..there you go”
Myglobalmind: Your extensive recorded musical legacy, includes many classic albums with Msg, Waysted and of course UFO. In your opinion what are the best and worst albums released bearing your name?
Paul: “Ammm there are some dodgy ones in the Savoy Brown era.I have to be careful with what I say.From UFO,I think “Monkey Puzzle”was a low spot.That was the last album with Pete Way.With Savoy brown I think “Lion,s Share”that was a low spot for them.”
Myglobalmind: What about anything with Waysted or MSG?
Paul: “I only did one album with Waysted, and I quite liked that album”Vices”. It is quite highly thought of. I was only on two MSG albums anyway. He did the first one with Don Airey,and then I came in to it, did the Live Budokan album. Then I was gone, so no, nothing from MSG, think that is a great album too.”
Myglobalmind: Do you go back and listen to your own back catalogue, or do you prefer to look forwards?
Paul: “I’m a big fan of “Street corner talking” by Savoy Brown. I think that was a really great lineup. The band had broken up,I was brought into it and we had some tough times for about nine months. Then somebody came up with the idea of using Chicken Shack,s rhythm section. That really worked,and we looked for a singer and were lucky enough to find Dave Walker. He came from a band called “The Idle race”in Birmingham. That lineup was terrific.Pity it didn’t go on longer.”
Myglobalmind: Personal heroes, even outside of music?? Obviously you have done many interviews, but who would you like to interview? Why,and what would you ask them?
Paul: “I have never met Keith Richards, and would like to meet him.Another hero was Steve Marriott, and i did meet him. He was a fantastic , lovely guy. Unfortunately he was getting towards the end of his career, but he could still sing the pants of anybody. Would love to have a talk with Keith and talk about the blues”
Myglobalmind: Just a couple of questions to finish on,what has been the strangest thing to happen to you as a musician?
Paul: “Strange things happen all the time.Stuck on a mountain side in a tour bus, life-threatening situations….”Many over the years,its been a long career, I have been in the business nearly forty five years”
Myglobalmind: I’m sure that you have many tales over the years, perhaps enough for a book-have you ever considered writing one?
Paul: “Who would read it”?
Myglobalmind: All the fans of the many bands that you have been involved with in that period.
Paul: “Yeah, maybe it has been suggested several times. I do have lots of anecdotes my memory is still pretty good.”
Myglobalmind: Well maybe you are actually”the quiet one”?
Paul: (laughing) That’s studious, yes that is something I would like to do but it is a massive undertaking. I would have to consult with Andy Parker the drummer from UFO. He has got total recall,he just remembers everything. He has been thinking about doing a proper book ,a UFO book. He has been in it since the beginning, and knows all the stories that people want to know.”
Myglobalmind: Final question. Do you ever envisage working again with both Pete Way and also Michael Schenker in UFO? Or has that boat sailed a long time ago?
Paul: “Well the door is always open for Pete, when he cleans his act up. That was how we left it with him. With Michael , he seems to be very settled with his own band now. He has different members from time to time, and he seems to be very comfortable with that. I did read somewhere that he was talking about why don’t we have a reunion. So I wouldn’t rule it out but Vinnie Moore has been with us for ten years now. That would be a terrible slap in the face for him. He is a great player”
Myglobalmind: That covers everything,thanks for chatting to me today,great album and I look forward to maybe seeing you with Ufo playing Belfast.
Paul: “Yeah I will talk to our manager about that definitely,and thank you.The questions were really interesting.Thanks very much,good bye.
The Paul Raymond Project album is released in the UK on January 28th