In their own words

Paul And Faith, December 1999.

This is an excerpt of an interview about Faith? for the German magazine TEXTUNDTON.
 
 ..................I think every writer has a need, indeed a duty you might say, to indulge ideas that are personal to themselves. It's the driving force of all ones efforts ultimately, even if it takes years to emerge as such or for one to be aware of its meaning. In an ideal world a band will for some time share common ground, have a f****** good time doing it, and indeed create fantastic music, but individuals will become aware of their needs eventually. I wanted to get down the things I've had running around my head for a time and explore any possibilities that I could not share with the band really. Some of Faith? is remaining ideas I'd had for 'Written in Red', but most is new and 'as it came out' if you like. Lyrically it deals with some of my usual subjects and generally is very personal, there are also reflections of very recent profound events in my life, for example my father is very ill now with cancer and I am reaching some kind of a major change in my life, so maybe Faith? will turn out to be a cathartic exercise. At times it was a bit of a voyage of discovery I guess, it definitely got a lot off my chest, I mean the recording of the last Stranglers CD was a very negative part of my life and it was important to put that well behind me, plus I'm already putting another album together(it's about a third of the way on)so, maybe it's all happened at the right time. As for 'art', Faith? is not driven by money, so is it art? All I know is that I truly love making music it's a basic instinct isn't it? As far as 'having a dream' as you ask, it is not the way I've ever thought of it .I've written for years so I am used to hearing my songs. If you mean to be releasing a complete body of totally solo work, I had always aimed to do that, so it was more of a target than a dream. I must say that the thought of the technical/practical side of recording and mixing was a nightmare for me. I just wanted to get on with writing the stuff but had to deal with all the engineering, sampling, programming as well as all the instrumentation. So, you can imagine how that could affect the creative process. Then one has to be objective about everything! If I am happy with the music that is one good thing, but to have dealt with all the other shit has freaked me out, it's very rewarding I have to say. A true 'baby'. To be honest, the title Faith? is really a second choice as I had the definitive title six months ago, but, at the time I thought of it, someone I was with distracted me and it just slipped back into the ether(man!).Maybe it was a good thing it did, I'm happy to go with the flow. As I said before it is a very personal album but also I hope people can say, "yeah, that's me!" or "that's how I feel". Faith is a light for a lot of people and you could say that the project is that for me, I'll not know quite yet. I do not have a real 'favourite' track, as each piece means something different on any given day, I can't really think like that. An example of this is 'New Mourning Town', a song that just poured out of me. It is based on my experience of Bosnia (we toured there for the military two years ago)and could be used to describe any beautiful part of the world or indeed anywhere that has felt the sickness of humanities evil, so if I am in-or passing through-a particularly sad place, the song will just come into my head,so at that point it would be the most 'important' song if you like. A song that I would say could echo a lot of peoples 'personal' sorrow would be 'Can't Seem', a very hard number to stand up and perform. I think I have never been so low in my life when this popped out of my head and doubt if I will ever do this song live. 'Postcard' is dedicated to youth and young love. A song that again, 'hurts' if you like, a contemplation of suicide. 'So Easy' is a song about an older man falling deeply in love with a much younger girl - against his real feelings - and being left to pick up his life, basically. 'Chasing Rainbows' is about the human condition and the need to affect all we come into contact with, and like 'Mourning Town', is an 'earth song'. 'Free' started life as a story based on a mass murderer called Dennis Neilson, 'The Black Panther', as he was known but became a song about the actual effect of such a person on the remaining families, those who have to live with the aftermath of such hideous experiences. 'Sail Your Soul' is really a kind of auto-biographical poem , musically as well as lyrically. It attempts to describe, 'me' to 'myself', all things I have been, it is a result of the many things I've been through as a person in this world! The instrumental, 'Hard One', is just an aggressive piece of music really, a great escape valve for me. I suppose it is the pinnacle of personal relief on the album if that makes sense. I think it is a bit tame now but it is -all but one - the oldest tune on the CD and at the time I wrote it no-one was really using that groove. It's the musical equivalent of being 'fucked up the arse with a rusty bayonet against your will'. 'Sunset' is-after all the dark moments on the CD-a true reflection of my nature, as is 'All We Need'-whose lyrics are ambiguous-.These song are saying, please listen, look and appreciate everything/everyone around your life, take a little time to get closer to understanding the world, your environment and others', maybe we can make a difference....I'll never give up I know that much. 'Lady Grinning Soul' is a Bowie cover, something I have always wanted to do but with a catalogue like his it's not easy to choose, however as a young Bowie freak I'd set my sights even then on something like 'LGS' or 'Wild is the Wind', two songs I have always considered among his finest. They show a side of him that most would perhaps not associate with the great man. I feel that to a certain extent they actually represent the guy more than the 'classics'. 'Life on Mars' and 'Time' are two others that spring to mind. Maybe it's the 'theatrical' slant, who knows, maybe it's the pure beauty of these songs......Musically, Trevor Bolders' bass playing is wonderful and the piano parts are sublime, Mike Garsons playing is shimmering....I absolutely love this song('Aladdin Sane' is my second favourite D.B. album)........O.K. so why change the bridge/chorus section???? This was just something that happened, I was not doing that part justice so I threw some other ideas at it and immediately liked what was happening to the point that I think it is very complimentary to the whole piece....it was very organic and very instant, like it should be, and to say I'm very happy with the result is an understatement....really. (I'll not mention the hundreds of times-literally - I have been compared to the guy for one thing or another! That is another story.)A very good ex-colleague of mine played the piano part on my version, and John Ellis the guitars, the only two 'guest players' on the album. You ask, what is the difference in composing alone? Well firstly I would say it is a much more thorough process than writing with a band, 'cause I will scrutinise every single aspect of the piece, the sounds, the feel of each part, the structure of the song, and - obviously the lyric and performances (musical and vocal) - through to the recording and final mixes. As I've said, in a band situation there are 'trusted', like minded people working together, so one would focus more on ones individual part if you see what I mean. That said I have always involved myself with every aspect of anything I've ever been involved with ,but you cannot interfere with another creative persons role too much. I like to act on instant vibes mostly but still take time to really consider all the options, that is very important. Some people will just try to influence a piece 'cause they think they should, and that is most undesirable. I've 'lost' great ideas that way in the past being too diplomatic or not sticking to my guns, or indeed, trusting a more 'experienced person'......this can be very costly! Also no-one can fuck off during the writing schedule agreed by the band and you don't have to deal with all the obvious stuff like bad moods etc...you know. If I want to take time off then I can without affecting the process, a natural break you might say, and I can deal with my own shit days(hopefully!). Let's face it, creatively you can't keep going non-stop, but in any project you should be spending as much time as humanly possible working and focusing on that project alone. In a solo environment I can put all my time in without interruption and bounce ideas at will, plus as I've said above, I love making music...maybe that is the key? I gave myself fourteen months from start to finish on Faith?, and including all the work I've done with the Stranglers, which was a lot, I completed it in sixteen. In a band set up you could also say that you have more objectivity, well yeah, possibly, but I think as long as you have strength and belief you can work really well alone and produce something great. The main problem I have encountered -apart from greed and paranoia!-is ego-mania. The effects of this are many, and as a writer who has 'been around' as it were, I have had to deal with some pretty fucked up situations. Having said all this I still think there are certain 'mega-artists' whose best work was realised when working with certain people....Prince with Wendy & Lisa, Bowie with Mick Ronson & the Spiders and Ken Scott (and probably with Brian Eno on 'Low'), McCartney with Lennon (and visa-versa), Lennon & McCartney with George Martin, and Bacharach with David, to name only a few. My best partnership was with a guy called Andy Patten with whom I spent two years, and produced some of my favourite tunes 'Sold on Dreams' being a song of ours that some Stranglers fans would have heard of. I have never found that amount of magic with anyone else. Some of the problems that can arise when working with an 'established' act are that -one- they can start to think because they have had success they don't have particularly 'move on' if you like, - two - that sometimes your ideas do not get treated as seriously as maybe they should and therefore - three - eventually they may revert to 'safe' ground. It's inevitable really, no-one can go forward forever and it's probably hard to accept that just because you have had a successful past career does not necessarily mean you know best, but, if ones needs or input are not accepted then obviously it could become a strain on the relationship. If I was trusting someone to come into a situation I really cared about then I'd feel I'd have to give that person total respect and room to express themselves and indeed expect the same in return, Yeah?...........That's about it really.

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