Two ‘musical memories’ for Oskar Rickardsson’s site

I have memories of two significant gigs that come to mind (and many more if I was asked!)
The first was in 2005 when I re-formed my old band to play the Wave Gotik Treffen ‘dark scene’ festival in Leipzig. I had only played one live gig in 7 years at the time (and that was an acoustic set at the Herbstnachte Festival in Berlin the year before) so I was quite anxious how it would go down with the hard core electro pop and goth crowd.
When we arrived at the main hall Mozart and his band were putting on a real macabre theatre performance with fire and half naked dancers. I thought, ‘we don’t stand a chance with this audience!” as we had never really dressed up in period costumes to impress a crowd or put on a show. We relied on the music alone and I think that might have severely limited our chances of being invited to festivals like this.
Then when we went into the smaller hall where we were due to play there was a band with about 100 people standing in front of the stage. I was beginning to think it had been a bad idea to come out of ‘retirement’ when they finished their set and the audience went out leaving absolutely no one in the place! I think that was one of my lowest moment. Now I knew for sure that this had been a mistake.
But we had been invited to play and so we set up and started. I don’t know if it was ‘Witchfinder General’ which we used to start with or ‘Reanimator’ which was soon to replace it as the opening song but almost as soon as the first chords were struck there was a stream of people coming in to see who was on stage. Before the end of the first song the hall was packed to the back wall and we came off pretty euphoric and I must confess, very relieved!
In the backstage area afterwards I asked a young woman about the food for the bands and as soon as she spoke in her thick Sheffield accent I realised she wasn’t a waitress but a singer in the Human League who were headlining that year!


The other significant gig memory I have is of playing at the Metal Magic festival in Denmark about three years ago which saw us playing around midnight after travelling for 12 hours. As soon as we arrived at the site it was obvious that this was a seriously hard core metal crowd and I fully expected to be pelted with bottles and be left singing to one man and his dog (if I was lucky!) Some of the audience would have intimidated an Orc, but again, I was completely stunned by the reception. I assumed no one in the audience knew my songs, but as soon as I stepped on stage there was a roar and cheers. It was a tremendous buzz especially as the new band were so on top of it despite us never having played together before! The bass player had flown over from Italy and the electric violinist had learned her part from the records so we hadn’t managed to have a full band rehearsal! It was madness but somehow it worked. The only regret I have is that I had to shout over the noise of the band and half the time that meant I was almost singing in a different key! But it didn’t seem to bother anyone and we were later told by the organiser that it was the “5th best performance in the 11 years of the festival’s history”. I don’t know how they arrived at that ranking, but it was Ok by me. Better still, we get to return next July and do it all over again.

Paul Roland Solo album press release ‘Wyrd Tales of an Antiquary’.
(Dark Companion ephemerals)

“Some people – critics mainly – appear to believe that an artist can only be truly creative and original in their 20s and consequently they assume that their music becomes less interesting and less vital as they age. I strongly disagree with that. Every day I set out to prove that just isn’t true.”

Paul Roland is not the only stubbornly independent musician from the 80s who continues to defy that presumption. His contemporaries Robyn Hitchcock and Nick Saloman (aka Bevis Frond) – both of whom have appeared on Roland’s albums - have also demonstrated that some artists not only age gracefully but also produce some of their best music once the urgency to make a name for themselves and establish a reputation has long receded.

If they are true artists, their original influences will fade over time and they will find their own voice, mining their own imaginary world with increasing rewards, maturing and developing beyond the initial compulsion that inspired them to pick up an instrument and write songs.

“My voice is a lot stronger, deeper and more secure than it was when I sang ‘Walter the Occultist’, ‘Wyndham Hill’ and ‘The Great Edwardian Air-raid’ in the late 80s. Then I often had to double track my vocal to thicken it and correct my rather fragile pitching! Also, I have increased my musical ‘vocabulary’ by learning more interesting chords to evoke the sinister atmosphere I’m trying to create. My ability to tell short stories and describe characters in a few verses has improved significantly since I have written so many non-fiction books as well as two novels and a book of short stories. In addition, I can now also play all the parts I used to ask an arranger to write for the other instruments, so my solo albums are truly solo albums in every sense of that word. I’m the same person I was when I created ‘A Cabinet of Curiosities’ and ‘Danse Macabre’, but now I am more confident and capable.”

That new maturity was first heard on ‘White Zombie’ (2016), an album of evocative songs on a voodoo theme which grew out of wordless chants Paul channelled (to use the term conjured up by spiritual mediums and clairvoyants) in a trance-like state under the influence of the late Dr John ‘the Night Tripper’. Recorded and released in Italy on the new Dark Companion label, it brought Paul in touch with some of the big names in Italian Progressive rock and also contemporary classical music which led to Paul composing ‘A Grimm Fantasy For Orchestra’ and his first string quartet (both of which are to be performed and recorded in 2022).

The choicest segments from the Grimm Fantasy are included on the new solo album as interludes between the ‘extended narrative songs’, a term Paul has coined to describe the short stories set to music over 10 minutes or more and in distinct sections.    


“Albums are usually put together from songs written for a specific project over a short period and in a particular state of mind, but occasionally they simply come together unexpectedly from disparate sources. This second solo of mine came about in that accidental unexpected way.
I had been invited to contribute two songs to an H.P. Lovecraft ‘tribute’ (‘The Music of Erich Zann’ and ‘The Cats of Ulthar’) and when that release was delayed, due to the pandemic, I entertained myself by writing music to a long lyric I had not used on my M.R. James project (‘Mr Humphrey’s Inheritance’) and completing a couple of home demos for that project that I was impatient to see released (‘Count Magnus’ and ‘Lost Hearts’). I also had the urge to tackle a song on a subject I had put in my back pocket for more than a decade, ‘Montague Summers’ (a whimsical portrait of the eccentric English occultist of that name). Before I realised it, I had a double album (one maximum length CD)! And one that I am fiercely proud of.”  

Track listing:
1) Grimm Fantasy Prelude
2) The Cats of Ulthar (based on the Lovecraft story)
3) Grimm Fantasy Interlude #1
4) The Music of Erich Zann (based on the Lovecraft story)
5) Grimm Fantasy Interlude #2
6) Count Magnus (based on the M.R. James story)
7) Grimm Fantasy Interlude #3
8) Montague Summers
9) Grimm Fantasy Interlude #4
10) Mr Humphrey's Inheritance (based on the M.R. James story)
11) Grimm Fantasy Interlude #5
12) Grimm Fantasy Interlude #6
13) Lost Hearts (based on the M.R. James story) a) Summer of 1810 b) A Curious Dream c) Uncle Dear d) Come & Play With Me
14) Grimm Fantasy Coda

‘Wyrd Tales of an Antiquary’ is an ephemeral release (limited edition primarily for members of the PRAS and selected mail order outlets) by Dark Companion
For more information visit: and 

Paul Roland - Lair of the white worm (RELEASED 2020)

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Paul RolandPaul Roland on "Flying Ace"

"Little did I know at the time that intimate, wistfully melancholic acoustic songs were my forte and I would have been better off and more sincere if I had stuck to those and ditched any attempts at aping my musical heroes (the cringe inducing 50’s pastiche ‘The Witching Hour’, the flaccid ‘Alcatraz’ and the twee ‘Girls’ on the original album on Ace being just three excruciating examples of what happens when you are too young and impatient!)"

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LIVE - Copenhagen + Metal Magic Festival, 13 July 2018

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