Paul Draper might be more commonly known to some as the frontman of Mansun – one of the most iconic bands of the late ’90s. Following on from his first solo live dates Paul has announced a second solo tour beginning next month. On February 20th Paul will be taking over The Wedgewood Rooms on Albert Road in Southsea. I’ve recently had the pleasure of catching up with Paul to find out why fans of Mansun should be excited about this tour.
Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
My initial introduction to music was around my own house as a kid. We had large and varied record collections in different parts of the house depending on who owned them (not that we had a big house) and I would play vinyl albums all the time and listen to them over and over trying to understand the different elements in them. This was what first fascinated me about music and this led me to want a guitar, which I got for Christmas when I was 10 years old, then I’d buy recording equipment through my teenage years and eventually got into recording on a big scale. After that, I was always putting bands together after my family moved from Liverpool to North Wales as a teenager.
There was a local band called Dr Phibes and the House Of Wax Equations who I used to go and watch around the town where I moved to, Connahs Quay, just across the border from England, I was fascinated by them and would always try and catch their gigs. They went on to have a small amount of national success and I always thought if they could do it, then I could.
For those who are new to your music which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
I think the most popular single off my debut solo album has been ‘Things People Want’ so I would suggest checking that out. Of course these days you don’t have to buy it as a single, you can check it out on Spotify, Apple Music or Youtube, which is a great way to get into a musician these days. Secondly, I’d go for ‘Feeling My Heart Run Slow’ which was the first single I released off my album as a solo artist and was made NME Single Of The Week which was great. Lastly I’d go for a song from the band I was in Mansun, the song most people know from the band is ‘Wide Open Space’ but I’ll go for ‘The Chad Who Loved Me’ which was the opening track off our first album and is one of my favourite tracks we did as a band.
When an album or artist comes out that I really like I’ll go back to being a kid and dissect the music, only now I know the technical side of it so I’m always fascinated with record production of a new track I like. The more knowledge about record making I accumulate the more I can dip into my knowledge base.
How do you feel that your latest album compares and contrasts to your previous work?
I think Spooky Action is a continuation of the Mansun albums really. Being the vocalist, main songwriter and oftentimes producer of Mansun when I came to do a solo album it was always going to sound like me. I have a natural sound if I just head off creating a track but I’m always looking for new directions and ideas to try so Spooky Action sounds contemporary as I’m using contemporary instruments, synthesisers and drum machines etc and also using the latest recording technology, plug ins, and techniques which I always try to keep abreast of as recording has been my main musical interest since I was a teenager.
What bands and artists are you currently listening to and how are they inspiring you to explore and implement new ideas with your music?
I don’t listen to a lot of new music as I’m listening to a wealth of old music on Spotify these days. However when an album or artist comes out that I really like I’ll go back to being a kid and dissect the music, only now I know the technical side of it so I’m always fascinated with record production of a new track I like. The more knowledge about record making I accumulate the more I can dip into my knowledge base. However, ultimately, you can only use any ideas on a song or in a track if it suits the song, recording, or mood, that’s where technical knowledge collide with the art side, the skill in in what suits and complements the recording and building a record and always try and create something good. The acid test is simple if people like it.
What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
I’m going to perform the Mansun debut album ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ in full. This is the first time the album has been performed in its entirety and I’m doing it for the 21st Anniversary of its release when it went to No.1 in the UK Album Charts. In fact, Im doing 2 sets during my gig in Portsmouth, I’ll do one full set of my own solo material, mainly from my debut album Spooky Action, but a few tracks from my first couple of solo EPs as well.
I’ll be doing a full solo set then an intermission, then Attack Of The Grey Lantern in full, it’ll be a two-hour show so you’ll get your money’s worth lol!
I’m going to perform the Mansun debut album ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ in full. This is the first time the album has been performed in its entirety and I’m doing it for the 21st Anniversary of its release
What does the rest of 2018 have in store for you?
The coming year is probably going to be the busiest of my career. I’m starting my UK tour on Feb 19, Portsmouth will be the second date, and we finish in London in the middle of March. After that, I’m off the United States where I’m doing 8 support shows supporting Steven Wilson, who is a good mate of mine and the world’s biggest Prog Rock artist.
Once I’m back from the States I’ll be finishing work on an album I’ve been writing with an artist called The Anchoress then I’ll be continuing work on my second solo album and we have some Festivals lined up which I can’t announce yet. After the festivals, I have a few solo shows pencilled in for November which should be interesting and either side of that I’ll be trying to complete solo album 2 by Christmas ready to announce in the new year.
At the moment I’m recording an EP for digital release at Ray Davies Studio, Konk, in North London and we also have a live album coming out of my sold-out gig at London’s Scala last year as well as a special 21st Anniversary box set and vinyl edition of Attack Of The Grey Lantern, so it’s a pretty busy year ahead you could say!