June 22 2020

Paul RolandWhen I decided to make my first single in July 1979 it was the most exciting thing I could imagine doing. I’d been waiting impatiently for five years since writing my first song to get into a studio, but it took the encouragement of recording a double sided single with a friend (John Willans, aka Danielz of Bolan tribute band T.Rextasy) to convince me to take a chance. It was the thrill of anticipation; trying to imagine what the song that I had written on an acoustic guitar and demoed on a portable cassette recorder would sound like when played by a band in a real studio.
[I’d recorded a batch of solo acoustic demos a year or so before, but that didn’t tell me what a real production would sound like]

Unfortunately, the buzz I felt when recording the vocals (“We sound like Blondie” I rashly thought!) was not captured in the finished article (the first and only Weird Strings single). It wasn’t just the awful homemade ‘sleeve’ or the thick vinyl which didn’t feel like a 7”single should, but the weedy, scrappy performance (due in no small part to John having to deputise on drums when the drummer fell asleep on his kit! (The latter had consumed a whole bottle of gin on the journey and was incapable of sitting upright, never mind playing).

Paul RolandThe second attempt, my first solo single, ‘Public Enemy’, recorded a few months later, was only a modest improvement, but when it came to record my first album, ‘The Werewolf of London’, that autumn, the studio provided some serious musicians and we were in business.
Despite the patchy nature of that album, I finally experienced the thrill of recording; hearing a track come together from the raw acoustic sketch and recreating some very specific sounds that I heard in my head which I wanted to replicate on the record. Much of that thrill was due to the contribution made by the ‘real’ musicians on that and later records, their ideas for parts and sounds which I could not have imagined. And as each instrument was added to the backing track (drums, bass, rhythm guitar and guide vocal) a sound picture emerged and was coloured in. It was sonic alchemy and it is just as thrilling 41 years later as I now create the next album, ‘Morbid Beauty’, in collaboration with Mick Crossley, Violet the Cannibal and David Roche.

Writing songs has never lost its magic, as I never know what is likely to come out (it’s amazing how far you can go with a few chords, though I needed to learn a whole bunch of more ‘unusual’ sounding chords to write the M R James album a few years ago). For this new album I used the ‘intro’ and ‘fills’ from a drum machine to give me short and very different rhythm patterns to stimulate the core song and Violet noticed the difference in the new songs when I played them to her, so it had worked. I also decided that for this album I wouldn’t simply give the band the finished songs and ask them to play them a certain way while also adding their own ideas, but would instead provide only the core song and ask them to treat it any way they saw fit. I also invited them to develop the songs to extend them beyond the standard 3 minutes that I favoured and thought ideal for indie ‘pop’/’rock’. As a consequence, we would be equal partners in writing the songs and the album would be released under a group name and not be another Paul Roland album.

That kept me excited and added a healthy degree of the unexpected. And yesterday (21 June, 2020) I recorded the lead vocals for the first 5 songs and experienced the very same buzz I had felt back in 1979. This time it was because I added impromptu harmonies, so even I didn’t know what was going to come out until I did it. I’ve been doing that on the last few albums that I’ve recorded and it means that not only is my music developing, but its still fresh and exciting to make. And hopefully that means it will be fresh and exciting to listen to. I hope you agree.
‘Morbid Beauty’ should be released in Spring 2021.

 
 
Plague Doctor by DS Blake ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…’ (‘A Tale of Two Cities’)
Dickens was a pretty shrewd judge of people, to say the least, and a man of prodigious imagination. But even he could not have foreseen the ‘challenging’ times we now find ourselves living through. What has all that to do with the launch of my new music site, I hear you ask? Quite a bit, I reply.
The current pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people; personally I think the best are predominant, and many are proving to be surprisingly resourceful and to have put their enforced confinement to good use and made the best of a bad situation.
Here at Roland Towers we pulled up the drawbridge and drained the moat, the ultimate in self-isolation. But we too have not been idle, oh no.
With concerts postponed (including a major festival in Italy this summer as well as the premiere of my Grimm Fantasy for Orchestra), recording sessions cancelled (to complete the next band album ‘Morbid Beauty’) and releases put back to the autumn of 2020 (namely ‘Lair of the White Worm’ and the M.R. James project to spring 2021), I thought it would be senseless to write more songs only to have albums backing up like so many automobiles on an assembly line.
So, instead I channelled my creative energies into writing fiction and I’m very pleased I did so. I’m now a third of the way through my second novel – an Edwardian horror-mystery and have begun a second collection of short stories. The latter are my first attempts at Science Fiction, a genre I hadn’t explored before, so writing it was an entirely new and thrilling experience.
Which brings us rather circuitously back to this new site.  
Alberto Crossio had been encouraging me for some time to update a site he created many, many years ago and with the demise of the German website I was keen to have an active new site that could also serve as a platform for a regularly updated blog on the subject of writing and recording. We were both keen that this new site should also function as an on-line source for ALL my lyrics and chords.
After weeks of typing up every single lyric, compiling and checking every album track listing and writing comments on all the songs, we were confident we had assembled the makings of a really interesting and useful online ‘library’. But how to make it look attractive, appealing and user-friendly? Fortunately, we had the very man for the task. Mikael Runnstrom who also created my author site (www.paulroland.net) contributed all his expertise to design a sister site in the same stylish manner.

So, here, for the first time, you will find the LYRICS to EVERY song I have released (including those I’m not so proud of!) and in time ALL the CHORDS will be added. You will also find my personal COMMENTS to EVERY song plus INTERVIEWS, RECENT REVIEWS, VIDEOS and a COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY with every track listed and full credits.
This site will also give me the opportunity to publish a short BLOG every couple of weeks under the heading ‘NEWS’.
We hope you like what you find here and will come back for updates every 2 weeks or so.
P + M + A 

 

 

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