Paul Raymond

Hi Paul - please tell us about the new Paul Raymond Project album. Who's on it, how long has it been in the making, and how similar/different is it to UFO's current output?
It has taken us two years. Andy Simmons and I did all of it. My son Alex was invited to play drums, but he listened to a couple of songs (neither of which made the cut in the end) and opted out! I think he was hoping it would be more thrash metal so he could play a drum solo through everything. He’s now aspiring to be a lead guitarist, but I’ve already got one of those! It’s not the kind of material I would put forward as demos for a UFO album. These solo projects give me the opportunity to branch out and experiment with different sounds and styles, but it’s still very much a rock album.

PAUL RAYMONDVirtual Insanity has Andy Simmons on guitar. What's special about Andy, and how do you go about writing the songs between you - who comes up with what?
Andy is a great talent. He’s not only a terrific lead guitarist, but he also plays keyboards, he’s a commercial artist and an electronics engineer. In his spare time he’s a really great golfer. As far as writing is concerned, we mainly work independently. Andy will create a track and give it to me to dream up a vocal or I’ll write a song and he’ll come in and put a guitar solo on it – sometimes in one take as in “Bad Hair Day” and “Too Late For Love” or, with the Andy Fraser song and Shangri-La, he’ll take it away and work on it.
I have to say, I’m always impressed with what he comes up with, like with “Edge of Sanity (Reprise) it gave me chills. I thought “how the hell did he think of that?”

Virtual Insanity has Andy Simmons on guitar. What's special about Andy, and how do you go about writing the songs between you - who comes up with what?
Andy is a great talent. He’s not only a terrific lead guitarist, but he also plays keyboards, he’s a commercial artist and an electronics engineer. In his spare time he’s a really great golfer. As far as writing is concerned, we mainly work independently. Andy will create a track and give it to me to dream up a vocal or I’ll write a song and he’ll come in and put a guitar solo on it – sometimes in one take as in “Bad Hair Day” and “Too Late For Love” or, with the Andy Fraser song and Shangri-La, he’ll take it away and work on it.
I have to say, I’m always impressed with what he comes up with, like with “Edge of Sanity (Reprise) it gave me chills. I thought “how the hell did he think of that?”

Talk us through some of the songs. Titles such as "Michael Caine" and "Where's My Bike?" Please explain!
I think I’d been watching the movie “California Suite” Michael Caine plays the character of Sidney, Maggie Smith’s long-suffering husband. They are flying first class to LA as Maggie’s character is up for an Oscar. I wrote down one line, “We’re on the way to Hollywood, we’re going in style” and the rest comes from recollections of when I was a kid, going to the movies. By the time I got to the chorus, I was on a roll. I listed all the Michael Caine films I could think of and then tried to fit as many as I could into the lyrics.
Andy had come over to my place to play a couple of solos. He parked his motor bike at the back of my apartment. After about an hour, we looked out of the window and it was gone! He exclaimed “Oi! Where’s my bike?!” He went home and in anger wrote a really great guitar riff.

PAUL RAYMONDUFO have recently had three hugely successful trips to the USA touring The Monkey Puzzle album, with lots of sold-out shows and great reviews from the club gigs and the festivals. What were the best moments from that tour? And the worst?
All our gigs with Rob de Luca were great, some were outstanding – Dallas - House of Blues, Vegas - Boulder Station Casino and the Key Club in LA stand out in my memory. Later in the year Aurora, Illinois with Jeff Kollman was another highlight. The only gig I can think of that wasn’t quite up to scratch was of all places Chicago, which is normally a city we really enjoy playing. Unfortunately, Phil was not feeling well and was on medication – he was really exhausted and Chicago was our 10th gig in a row with only one day off – it proved to be a bridge too far.

Any chance you'll be going to the USA again in the near future, to visit some of the cities you missed the first three times round?
I know a lot of fans write in to our website and ask if we can play Florida, a whole host of other States that we haven’t visited recently and Canada. Personally, I’d like to play in all of them, but the logistics of tours are completely out of the band’s hands. It’s all down to managers, promoters and booking agents to make the tour come together.

You've been in the business a mighty long time. You must be at least errr... 44 years old by now. How do you keep up with the pace of these grueling touring schedules?
Well, as James Hetfield from Metallica said in a recent documentary, I get more sleep on the road than I do at home! When you are traveling from city to city on a tourbus, there’s not much else to do except talk, eat, drink and sleep! However, when we don’t have a bus and have to travel by air or train, the itinerary is truly exhausting. I slept for a week after our Russian tour! That travel schedule for that tour should have put us off touring ever again, but in April and May this year we played 25 cities across America in just 30 days. Then in July we played five shows in five days, travelling from city to city by plane - sometimes even by two planes! Then we had a couple of weeks off and went back again for just one show, which was the festival in Aurora. That was a nine hour flight each way, for a 90-minute gig! But they gave us a fantastic welcome, as you can see in the above photo - which made the long journey seem less of a chore!

PAUL RAYMONDWhat plans do UFO have for the band's 40th anniversary in 2009?
We’ve just had confirmation that we’ve got another album deal with our record company SPV and are currently making plans to record it this year and tour with it next year. More than that I can’t say as the details have yet to be thrashed out!

What are your favourite songs to play live - and for each one, why?
“I’m a Loser” has always been a favourite of mine. It’s got a nice little acoustic bit at the beginning, then it gets really heavy and keeps building all the way to the end.
I’m really enjoying playing “Ain’t No Baby” in the live set again. It’s one I co-wrote with Phil in 1978, with very much of a “Free” vibe which Andy Parker totally embraces and plays perfectly! “Love to Love” has to be up there too, because of the keyboard intro and again, the song builds up to a fantastic crescendo.

Apart from UFO, your career has included stints with bands as diverse as Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Waysted (Waysted!), MSG, and very early on, Plastic Penny. What have been the most fulfilling times for you, and why?
Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown was my Blues era and I have to say that headlining Carnegie Hall in 1971 with Savoy Brown was a real thrill. We also supported Deep Purple in Madison Square Garden with a “Rookie” David Coverdale on vocals! Waysted seemed like a good idea at the time and MSG was a calculated career move. Both Michael and Cozy were at the top of their career and it was a terrific band to play in. The concert at Budokan was a memorable occasion. Plastic Penny was a pop group I founded with Brian Keith, the singer. We discovered Nigel Olsen (who has been drumming with Elton John for the last 30 years) in a club in Sunderland. We had released a single which had entered the charts and we were looking to get a band together for a tour. Jeff Docherty, a promoter in the North East recommended both Nigel and Mick Grabham (who went on to Procul Harum) The highlight for that band was having a top 5 hit in the charts. Looking back though, it has all been fantastic in its own way – I’ve enjoyed all of it.

Spinal Tap moments.... tell us some of your funniest.
Well the most Spinal Tap moment has to be actually almost being in it (literally). They showed me a 20 minute pilot, with John Sinclair from Uriah Heep playing the keyboard part – but he’d declined to be in it. I auditioned for the part, met Rob Reiner the director and the three main characters. They played a live gig at Gazzari’s (now the Key Club) on Sunset Boulevard and I was invited along. I cornered Rob Reiner and he said “It’s between you and Dave Caffinetti” and then Dave got it because he had more of a hippy look, and I was sporting a Rod Stewart-style spiky blond hair cut. Looking back I’m very glad I didn’t get the part as it lampoons the music we loved (although I did need the money at the time!)

PAUL RAYMONDRock isn't the only string to your bow... your recent solo jazz album showcased another side of you. Why was it important for you to put out the Secret Life album and how was it received by UFO fans?
I didn’t consciously set out to say “Hey, look at me, I can do this too, aren’t I clever?” I did it for my own entertainment and I’ve been told one of my strengths is making new arrangements of old songs. I found it really interesting turning pop songs like the Kinks' “Sunny Afternoon” into a jazz genre. Being a jazz fan, my late Mother has never played a single record I have made in all these years. When I finished it, I gave her a copy. About a week later, she called me and said “Do CD records wear out?” So I presumed she loved it!
I made it quite clear on my website that Secret Life was not a rock album, but still a lot of UFO fans bought it (perhaps out of curiosity – but I’d like to think they enjoyed a couple of tracks here and there)

As a member of UFO you've worked with Michael Schenker, Paul Chapman, Atomik Tommy, and Vinnie Moore. What did each of them bring to the table?
Michael Schenker was obviously a genius, he created his own unique guitar style – he was an innovator whereas most people nowadays only emulate others. However he was and possibly still is a poor tortured soul. Paul Chapman was a very brave man stepping into Michael’s shoes at short notice. He did it in his own style and is still loved by many UFO fans. Atomik Tommy’s contribution was not significant – he was in UFO for a very short period of time in the 1980s when keyboards almost overshadowed guitars. The Misdemeanour album was not a highlight of UFO’s back catalogue. Vinnie is a very talented guitarist who has the ability to take on any song from UFO’s history and make it his own without losing the essential substance of the original. His almost schoolboy sense of humour has blended perfectly with UFO’s cynical bantering and added another dimension to our off-stage antics.

What would you like to say to the fans?
Please buy my new album. I’ve got a wife and five keyboards to support!

 

Click on the link below to go to Paul's website where you can hear soundclips from the new album

PAUL RAYMOND  


Get Ready To Roll - 5th September 2008
GET READY TO ROLL

 

 

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