[PLEASE NOTE: ALL OFFERS IN THESE ARCHIVE NEWSLETTERS ARE NO LONGER VALID]
 

SPRING 2020

Dear all,

Now that storms Charlie, Matilda and all their miserable friends have finally moved on and left us with the prospect of spring, I can raise my head above ground like the proverbial groundhog and get busy again.
Actually, I have been more productive than ever these past winter months – working on TWO new albums with the band. The first one I had shelved about four years ago (!) simply because I couldn’t find a suitable theme. The music suggested a ‘fantasy’ theme, but I had already said enough about Kings, castles and other fairy tale elements. I tried plundering the Greek myths, the Norse sagas and much else, in the hope of finding one ring to rule them all, as you might say, but I realized that one theme couldn’t work with them all and finally managed to find several themes that brought the diverse songs to fruition. ‘Lair of the White Worm’ will be finished next month and jolly tasteful it is too.

Paul with JennyThe second album is very different. Not only is it sparser, harder stoner/psych indie rock with no acoustic guitars or additional instruments (just electric violinist Jenny Benwell on a couple of tracks) but I thought it was about time that instead of bringing my latest batch of songs to the band to wrestle with, I would provide only the core of the song and encourage them to ‘write’ or at least develop the next segment(s). It promised to be a lot more fun and I was also more than a little curious to see what they would come up with. We would then all share the writing credits and I would only ‘interfere’ as producer. I had tried this approach with the final song for the ‘fantasy’ album (‘Lair of the White Worm’) and it worked very well on that track. But this time we would work on extending and developing ALL the songs together. Once they were recorded, the tracks would then be sent to Italy where I would invite various ‘name’ guests to contribute either to the existing track OR they could provide a new section to the end to extend it further. With the likes of PFM and various avante garde and prog artists willing to appear as special guests the project looks like being a very different beast to past albums. I posted a few ‘work in progress’ items on facebook, if you care to look.

https://www.facebook.com/paul.roland.37017794

Gigs
I was expecting this year to be highly productive too in terms of live appearances with festivals in Denmark (July) and Italy (mid August) plus the first performance and recording of my contemporary classical music in Italy BUT with the panic over the Coronavirus and travel disruption following Brexit, all our plans are uncertain. All that can be said for sure is that we will perform a short acoustic set at a pagan fayre in Ely near Cambridge this November providing of course that there are still people to play to who have not succumbed to the plague!


This is Rock!It’s ironic, as I had hoped the large interview in Spain’s ‘This Is Rock’ magazine last month might have led to an invitation to play over there. But who knows now what will happen now. There is speculation that the UK will demand that all ‘foreign’ bands pay an entry fee to the UK and provide voluminous paperwork to justify their visit. In retaliation, the EU (and who can blame them) may impose similar conditions, making life (more) difficult of all of us. Fingers crossed it all comes to nothing and we can go about our merry way bringing joy and bad jokes to all of those in dire need of entertainment.

 

UNEARTHED! DISINTERRED! EXHUMED!
While searching the archives for images and unreleased recordings to use in a possible DVD, I came upon a few copies of the 2014 Piacenza concert with Mick Crossley, Joshua and me that Max had very kindly copied for me. In fact, he had done more than copy it - he had created a semi-professional DVD filmed with several cameras and a sound mix by Elfo engineer and producer Alberto Callegari. The only thing that prevented me from doing anything with it at the time was that it was filmed during my 'Orson Welles' period! Since then I am relived to say i have lost 19kilos, though I have continued to age.
So, if you are interested in obtaining one of these collectors items the price is a 10 euro Amazon voucher (or £8 if you are in the UK) payable to PRAS_Europe@outlook.com Don’t forget to include your own address. But hurry, by midnight they will be gone for sure!

And with these thoughts I bid you farewell for now

P

 

 

PRAS Newsletter Winter 2019

A Warning To The Curious!!!

I've just returned from Italy where I played a great little gig with my new semi-electric band and began recording my most challenging and ambitious album to date – ‘A Warning To The Curious – Extended Narrative Songs based on the ghost stories by M.R. James.’
I had written all the songs for the album and orchestrated it about four years ago around the time of ‘White Zombie’, but have only now had the opportunity to recreate that demo and flesh it out at Elfo Studios in Piacenza. It is not only a significant development musically for me, but it will also be one of my most important releases as it looks likely to be released on Manticore, the label founded by Emerson, Lake and Palmer back in the early 70s. It will also feature many special guests from classic Italian prog rock bands and cult British figures such as John Greaves from Henry Cow and possibly Fred Frith and Peter Hammill as well as an international soprano and a small chamber ensemble featuring members of the Orchestra of La Scala in Milan.
Musically, it marks a major step forward in my musical journey as I have had to create a new genre of song-writing to tell short stories in a longer and more cinematic form than before. Most of the ‘songs’ are 10 minutes or so in length and are composed of contrasting segments linked by brief interludes to serve as transitions between ‘scenes’. I had to learn new unusual chords in order to expand my musical vocabulary, so to speak, as simple major and minor chords could not evoke the sinister and disquieting atmosphere setting for the stories. Playing through these lengthy and more complex ‘songs’ was not too difficult in my home studio, but playing them again alone in the studio without a click track (metronome) was quite challenging! Once the other instruments are added it will be in the words of my friend and producer Alberto Callegari “very beautiful” and I might add, beautifully strange!

Paul Roland - Unreleased SongsUNRELEASED SONGS CD + LYRIC BOOK 
I returned with the last remaining copies of the 'Selected Lyrics' book and am awaiting delivery of a second SMALL run of the 21 track 'Unreleased Songs' CD to be paired with them. If you missed this special release the first time, now is your second chance to grab a copy. Price is £15/15 euros including postage to be paid via paypal. But by the time you read this I expect most of them will have gone, so please check that we still have one and if so, we’ll set it aside for you. First come, first served! [In the event that the book is sold out, we should still have a few spare copies of the CD which can be bought for £8/10 euros]
https://www.discogs.com/Paul-Roland-Unreleased-S…/…/13772592

Future Releases!
While in Italy I had a very productive and extremely pleasant discussion with my label Dark Companion regarding future releases and we now have an agreement that will see future albums released on PRAS/Gaslight in deluxe packaging and available direct from the PRAS. A small quantity will go to the Italian distributor MaRaCash, but the PRAS will be the primary source of these releases (which will include albums recorded with my English band, collections of rarities, radio sessions and unreleased recordings and other limited edition releases). Dark Companion/Manticore will record and release my special projects and all vinyl versions. This ensures that I retain control over what is released and when, but also more important, it means the PRAS can keep prices as low as possible, absorb excessive postage costs and guarantee that all orders are fulfilled and any that are lost in the post are immediately replaced.
And on that happy note, I’ll end by saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who came to the concert on Saturday (some of whom came a long way). And I promise that next time I shall tell my inter-song jokes in Italian!

Love P

 

 

PRAS Autumn Newsletter 2019

Dear Friends,
This is the last newsletter I shall be writing as my younger self. As of Sept 6th I shall officially be an ‘old’ man. Well, officially that is, but in practice I will be refusing to age gracefully. I am more productive than ever and far from ready to hang up my axe, as we used to call it back in the 70s, when rock music was ‘real’.
I may be more of a grey bearded Gandalf than a frisky young Bilbo these days, but I am delighted to say that I don’t sound it (as anyone who listens to the forthcoming album ‘1313 Mocking Bird Lane’ will hopefully agree) and my enthusiasm for making new music has certainly not dimmed in recent years.
Moreover, if you have been visiting either, or both of my facebook sites this year, https://www.facebook.com/RealPaulRoland/ and https://www.facebook.com/paul.roland.37017794
you will doubtless have seen that I have pursued new avenues of creativity recently with youthful vigour (the Grimm Orchestral Fantasy, a string quartet, a full length play ‘The Stationmaster of Riga’, a book of short crime fiction and my first serious novel ‘A Grimm Little Murder’). But as far as songwriting goes, I think it’s time to develop beyond the 3 minute track.
I plan to create more literary-themed projects in the future, such as the proposed M.R. James ghost story album, ‘A Warning To The Curious’, with its extended narrative songs accompanied by a small chamber ensemble and featuring name guests sharing vocals and contributing their own particular gifts. That is the next project to be recorded and is pencilled in for a spring 2020 release on ELP’s own label Manticore, a prestigious and honoured label I am very proud to have been invited to join.

Paul Roland - 1313 Mocking Bird LaneNEW ALBUM!!
Before that though we have the new ‘old’ album, ‘1313 Mockingbird Lane’ released in a hand-numbered edition on gold coloured CD on September 6th (to cheer me up on that solemn occasion!) Recorded with my band almost immediately after ‘Bitter and Twisted’, it had been shelved for several years after I recorded ‘White Zombie’ which was such a sonic leap forward in terms of production that it made me seriously consider re-recording ‘1313’ in the same studio in Italy. However, after several abortive attempts to do so, I decided that I loved the way ‘1313’ sounded and wouldn’t change a hair on its pointed little head (though I did substitute a few of the weaker songs for newer and stronger ones recorded a year or so later and at the last minute I had the inspired idea to add backing vocals by Anna Barbazza).
Full track listing is:

  1. Salon of the Senses
  2. In My Next Life
  3. When Chet Baker Sings
  4. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
  5. She’s A Mind-Reader
  6. Voodoo Man
  7. Joe Strummer Said
  8. Another Ingmar Bergman Interlude
  9. Little White Lies
  10. Won’t Go Surfin’ No More
  11. She’s My Guru
  12. Summer of Love
  13. 1313 Mocking Bird Lane

To quote the press release –
‘1313’ is Paul’s strongest set of songs to date, taking in dreamy psych with a 19th century Parisian setting (‘Salon of the Senses’), quirky sixties pop (‘My Next Life’, ‘Little White Lies’ and ‘Won’t Go Surfin’ No More’) and what a US rock mag once described as ‘goth rock as cartoon’ on the title track, a paean to the souped-up hearse driven by cult 60s TV family The Munsters.

‘1313’ is bursting at the seams with irresistible hooks and boasts a typically diverse array of subjects ranging from a homage to jazz icon Chet Baker and a tribute to Clash frontman Joe Strummer to a meeting with Death himself in ‘Another Ingmar Bergmann Interlude’. There’s even a nod to the late Dr John who had shared his secrets of New Orleans’ hoodoo with Roland many years before (‘Voodoo Man’).  

‘1313 Mocking Bird Lane’ is a real Munster of an album.’

There will also be a 4 track CD EP with 4 of the songs from the album in drastically different mixes (the original version of ‘In My Next Life’ with drums and the original version of ‘Another Ingmar Bergman Interlude’ with myself on jazzy piano, violin and sax) The album version is far more streamlined as is ‘In My Next Life’. Sample the single here

We hope to have a small quantity of the album and the CD EP before the end of August. Price will be £15/15 euros/$25 for both album AND CD EP (shipping included) payment to be made via paypal, but obviously first come, first served. We cannot guarantee that everyone will be lucky but the sooner you order, the luckier you are likely to be!

BANDCAMP!!
I have recently uploaded most of my albums to bandcamp as a ‘pay what you like or nothing at all’ release, but occasionally I also upload unreleased or rare material for a short time, so it is worth keeping an eye on my bandcamp page or my Facebook pages where I announce news of these special ‘releases’. This weekend I have uploaded the 7 unreleased songs from the ‘Songs For A Sad Girl’ suite that were included on the ‘Unreleased Songs’ CD but nowhere else. If you didn’t manage to get a copy of that CD which was included with the biog ‘The Devil’s Jukebox’, now is your chance! But the tracks will only be available until Midnight 18 August. https://paul-roland.bandcamp.com/

Unreleased Songs and Lyric Book
I have been told that a “small parcel” of lyric books has been found at the distributor’s warehouse in Italy and hope to collect this when I go to begin recording the M R James album next month. If there are 20 or more books I will probably press up another 20 of the Unreleased Songs CD for those who missed it when it was originally offered with the biography. If you are interested in a copy please let me know asap. Again, first come, first served. It’s the fairest way.

And now from your ‘old’ friend, I wish you all well and enjoy the last of the sun…

P

 

 

PRAS News January 2019

Happy New Year!

Bandcamp album store
We know we’ve recently mailed you, but we thought you might like to know that we have now uploaded 17 albums on bandcamp. They include the Cherry Red compilation ‘In The Opium Den’ which comprises my first three albums - the complete ‘Burnt Orchids’ and ‘Danse Macabre’ and most of ‘The Werewolf of London’ as well as rare early singles and EP tracks) and all the albums up to ‘Bitter and Twisted’(2015) with the exception of ‘Gargoyles’, ‘Pavane’ and ‘Demos’.
All are available in CD quality under ‘name your own price’. You can download individual tracks or the complete album to the digital device of your choosing or burn your own CD and use the ‘cover art’ as on-body design or to print your own covers. I wish they had this when I was a 15 year old scouring the record shops in London and the wilds of Kent in the early 70s, but then hunting down rare LPs in obscure backstreet record emporiums and teasing the guys behind the counter with requests for obscure bootlegs by the Grateful Dead was all part of the fun!
The only titles not available on bandcamp are ‘Pavane’, ‘Gargoyles’, ‘Demos’ and ‘White Zombie’. Copyright in the latter is owned by Dark Companion, so the PRAS cannot offer it. We hope to reissue ‘Gargoyles’ and ‘Pavane’ on a single CD one day as they have not been available since their original release, but we WILL be uploading the songs from ‘Demos’ – just as soon as we can find a copy!
https://paul-roland.bandcamp.com/

Grimmer Than Grimm Album and Video
We are also delighted to have a video created by Ralf de Bruyne to promote ‘Grimmer Than Grimm’ (the psych-folk fairy tale album that has been ornamented and embellished by the presence of psych-guitarist Mick Crossley). If you like it, please leave an encouraging comment – we may be able to persuade Ralf to make some more! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY-ntauK8Iw&ab_channel=Rafa%C3%ABlDeBruyne

Copies of the hand numbered limited-edition release of ‘Grimmer Than Grimm’ on red vinyl and CD are going fast, so if you want a future collector’s item now is the time. More details here -   https://www.darkcompanion.com/up003 Apparently the planned gold CD did not materialise due to a misunderstanding at the Japanese pressing plant, so if you ordered a gold CD and received a silver coloured CD do not be disappointed – no one has them!

Paul Roland - Shindig!Shindig!
I’m very happy to say that there is to be a large interview in next month’s issue of UK music magazine ‘Shindig’ (out on February 3rd) written by Grey Malkin who has done a splendid job of summing up 40 years in a few thousand words and getting the essence of my music absolutely spot on.
There should be a visual preview on the magazine’s YouTube site in a few weeks and here on their FB page. https://www.facebook.com/Shindig.Magazine

 

A Grimm New Composing Career
I can’t see myself growing mellower with age (as the new psych-garage album ‘1313 Mockingbird Lane’ will prove when it is eventually unleashed!) but I have been exploring other forms of creative composition: firstly with the ‘extended song’ format on the forthcoming M R James ghost stories project (an acoustic album with small chamber orchestra) and then with my first piece of ‘contemporary classical’ music – ‘A Grimm Little Fantasy For Orchestra’. The latter will be premiered at a concert in Italy in the spring and recorded for release on my first ‘classical’ album (for want of a better term). I hope that the album will also contain my first string quartet which has been accepted by an eminent Italian ensemble who have also performed arrangements of songs by Sting and Pink Floyd and with whom I hope to perform in concert and record in future. The album may also include an experimental jazz piece titled ‘Satie Steps Out’ which has been enthusiastically approved by another contemporary classical ensemble, or they may release it on their own album, but that’s something for later this year.


Wales ArtMy musical collaborator, composer and friend David Roche and I are currently working on a ballet/modern dance drama ‘The Nosferatu Variations’ which grew out of David’s idea to compose orchestral variations on a theme from one of my early songs. Inevitably I saw the potential for something more ambitious and before you could say ‘Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-is-not-my-favourite-composer’ it was developing into something even more interesting. If you want to know more here’s a link that explains how we began our collaboration and where it might lead to in the future.
https://www.walesartsreview.org/a-i-r-david-roche-and-paul-roland/

And now that’s more than enough from me for now. Have a great 2019 and do write – I love to hear from those who like (or don’t like!) my music.


 

 

Paul Roland - 1313 Mocking bird Lane (RELEASED 2019)

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