‘Les Paul’s’ (The Paul’s) are a prolific dynamic song writing duo of ex-Londoners, singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and actor Paul Odiase, a member of BMI (bio at http://www.paullyrics.com/contact/artist-bio-paul-odiase) and song lyricist Paul Robert Thomas, a member of the PRS (London) and the International Songwriter’s Association (Bio at http://www.paullyrics.com/artist-bio-paul-robert-thomas). They first started collaborating together in 2014 and released their first album ‘Holy Land Revisited’ that year. All songs are with music by Paul Odiase recorded and produced in his Bern, Switzerland studio. ‘Les Paul’s’ (The Paul’s) recently released the album ‘An American Landscape – Scared of America Volume Two’ – to check out the tracks, lyrics, artwork and song information go to http://bit.ly/2LDOkTp and also at Bandcamp at http://bit.ly/2Ao5tMt and Soundcloud at http://bit.ly/2PvgaQS and available to download at all good download stores.
- How did you meet initially up and which one of you came up with the band name?
Our composer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Odiase contacted me, song lyricist Paul Robert Thomas via my Reverbnation music site telling me that he was an accomplished composer and musician but struggled with lyrics and that suited me as an accomplished song lyricist but who is not a musician, ‘a match made in heaven’! What is funny is that we are both ex-Londoners and we actually only lived a few miles of each other in North London but didn’t know of each other’s existence until Paul Odiase, who was now living near Bern in Switzerland contacted me living just outside of Tel Aviv.
- You’ve been together since 2014. Yet you’ve managed to complete 11 albums in that time. Which one of you is the workaholic?
I dunno about being ‘workaholics’, I guess it’s about wanting to get things out and express all we’ve got inside that builds up as the world turns and more pain, misery, corruption and abuse takes place before our very TV eyes. I mean I suppose we could stand in a crowd protesting and waving placards about but music has a way of being even more direct, like hitting you in the soul, that’s if you care to listen and understand what’s being transmitted to you with the words and music, and ‘Protest’ songs, although seemingly a past genre once sung by people we thought we believed in but who are now rich, uninterested and sold out but who still have the nerve to perform on stage and increase their bank balances at our expense, ‘Nostalgia makes you fat’ (a line from one of our old songs, ‘Camden Town Blues’), ‘Protest’ is part of what we do!
- How do you usually go about writing songs? Do the lyrics get done first and then get set to music, or is it the other way around?
I usually send batches of lyrics by e-mail to Paul over in his studio in Bern and I believe that he spreads them over the table and leaves them there regularly looking at them until one or more set of lyrics takes his fancy and then he starts his magic!
- Do you both unconditionally accept the other’s creative input while working on a song, or do you at times try and change what the other has done? And are those attempts successful?
Oh blimey, Paul had better not interfere with me lyrics! Only kidding and to tell you the truth, Paul doesn’t change a word of my lyrics and I am amazed at how he weaves his music around my words, he is a true music genius. In writing lyrics I am always aware of the melody present in the lyrics and I write them to a melody in my head (obviously if I was a musician or a composer I’d compose the whole song myself) but I never reveal my vision for the song but nine times out of ten Paul creates the song or the skeleton of the song that I imagined in my head and, to date, I have never been disappointed in Paul’s musical creations!
- What do you think separates ‘Les Paul’s’ (The Paul’s) from the massive crowd of artists emerging right now?
Well, I guess that our songs deal with truths and with real contemporary things happening around us in the world today, as does every song on our new album ‘An American Landscape – Scared of America Volume Two’ and to be honest, we try to keep away from writing about love and happiness as maybe there are plenty of those songs around. Maybe in the old days our songs would have been called ‘Protest Songs’ as in essence, that’s what they are but all our work is based on tradition because any writer or composer that doesn’t base his work on tradition is not worth the pen he writes with or the music program he composes with.
- Who or what influenced or inspired the birth of the ‘An American Landscape – Scared of America Volume Two’ project?
Actually, the previous album ‘Scared of America – Volume One’ did as we didn’t finish saying all we had to say about America with Volume One and so we more or less said it all with ‘An American Landscape – Scared of America Volume Two’. The title track from ‘Volume One’ was actually released just after Trump took office and is recommended listening, called ‘Scared of America’ on You Tube at http://bit.ly/2wolz3y and many have exclaimed that we have that ‘Bowie Sound’ and maybe it’s more pronounced in this song as it is the follow on from the late great David Bowie’s 1996 song ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’ and both Bowie and Dylan are major influences of us both.
- How long did you work on the album – from its creation to completion?
Some of the songs for Volume Two had already been written for Volume One, we always record more songs than we need for an album and then pick not only the best but also the most appropriate that fits into the album’s theme, so sometimes great songs do get left off the album because they don’t fit exactly into that particular albums theme and now I’ve let the cat out of the bag and revealed that we create ‘Themed Albums’:)!
- Do you currently have a preferred song on the album, and if so, why is it special to you?
There are a few but I guess ‘The Undertakers Ball’ says most of what I wanted to say about abuse of power, child abuse/pedophilia that’s all rolled up into a secret sex party attended by the rich and famous in disguise and some have remarked that it reminds them of some of the alleged reported aspects of ‘Pizzagate’!
- What do you feel were the most daunting aspects in regards to the writing, recording and completion of this album?
I guess, you know, everyday life and living gets in the way of creating and creation sometimes, and you have to fit your art around it but not having to rely on a bunch of musicians to play on the album and on finding studio time in order to create your finished album is a big advantage as Paul Odiase, being a multi-instrumentalist does it all, from composing the music all the way through to performing, recording and mixing the songs.
- Listening to the songs now. Do you ever get the feeling to want to go back and do something differently? Or do you think they came out just as you wanted, and you wouldn’t change anything about them anymore?
No not really as they came out as they were meant to be, I mean I believe that like the lyrics that I wrote and write, they come from somewhere else, another place and maybe they come down an invisible pipe or conduit and they come or are given with a purpose to create, to create songs and I believe that creation is good and is a gift from God and as I said, joined with Paul’s music, the songs as created were meant to be.
- For anyone who has not yet heard ‘An American Landscape – Scared of America Volume Two’, which keywords would you use to describe it to them?
America then and now. When you listen to the title track ‘An American Landscape’ and hear about the crimes and atrocities carried out against the native Indians and against the black Americans also in the album song ‘Will We Ever Overcome’, you’ll realize that nothing much has really changed in the American psyche, the house might have had a new lick of paint but underneath the structure is rotten and full of holes.
- Would you regard ‘An American Landscape – Scared of America Volume Two’ as your best work yet? And if so why?
Oh yes and we’ve developed so much as writers and composers and are now able to put into words and music what we feel and what we want and need to say and maybe in the early days it was harder to get it out, but with this album there are no holds barred and it’s all there to hear and experience!
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Many ‘Independent’ artists still dream of being signed by a record company but my experiences, of having 3 separate albums with previous artists I worked with released through American and European record companies, have not been pleasant experiences and being free and unconstrained to do what you want to do without having to ask permission or jump through hoops is great but the obvious disadvantage of not having backers is that it’s a constant struggle to get your stuff heard, we’re played every day on radio all over the world but reaching the numbers that our great music deserves to reach is the constant battle.
- Besides the new album, what would you consider a successful, proud or high point in your endeavors as ‘Les Paul’s’ (The Paul’s), so far?
We were proud and honored to have been asked by a charity to create a song to help provide clean drinking water to the orphaned children of an African village. The song is called ‘The Children of the Dust’ and is a charity single that you can check out and show your support for at http://www.paullyrics.com/album/children-of-the-dust-by-les-pauls-the-pauls.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Well I’m old fashioned and use pen and paper to write lyrics whenever they come to me and I know that Paul Odiase is always trying out new music programs and techniques to improve our sound. For us, as a non performing studio based team, the Internet and all the social media websites are more or less the only way to get heard, I mean there are still one or two radio stations that accept a cd sent through the post but mostly you upload your songs via the internet to their website or send via e-mail and spread your music, or try to, via the social media sites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you Tube, etc.
- What is your relationship with visual media? Do you think videos are important for your music? Which video would you recommend fans checkout so they can get into what you’re doing?
We usually create 3 to 4 videos for each album that we release and our 2 latest videos, from the new album are ‘An American Landscape’ at https://youtu.be/xL-H2f9vRtg and ‘Washington’s Blues’ at https://youtu.be/3a-Uw2Ieopg
- Is ‘Les Paul’s’ (The Paul’s) exclusively a studio project, or do you also perform live?
No we don’t perform live, hopefully in the future we’ll get a full band together to take our songs on the road but at the moment we just want to write and create and produce the songs while the spirit and fire is still within us.
- If any, which new artists do you currently respect, and are listening to right now?
One has to earn respect and I don’t see any new artist that has earnt respect yet. A while back I worked with a young English folk singer called Luke Jackson who was performing from the age of 10, maybe you’ve heard of him, he never stopped performing in front of live audiences, all through his teens playing pubs, cafe’s and small venues being driven from venue to venue by his dad, and he now regularly performs with Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran) and he was signed by Martyn Joseph’s label and that kind of determination to succeed and never give up I respect but maybe tell me some names of some new artists I should respect, but I can’t think of any.
- What’s next on the upcoming agenda for ‘Les Paul’s’ (The Paul’s) in 2018?
We’ve already started on our next album ‘I’m Not There Britannia’ which, as you might have guessed from the title, will focus our attentions on the demise of The UK and you can hear a rough mix of the title song that opens with the queen’s reaction to the death of Diana at http://bit.ly/2PJBdPL!