In our latest Q&A, Paul tells us the thinking behind the singles collection, gives us the heads up on album #4 recording and reveals some exciting personal news...
Hello Paul, where are you now?
I’m in the studio - the Dog House.
Yes, we’ve got together to start jamming and playing around with some ideas. Working on new music is really important to us and we haven’t actually been able to do that for a long time. Since we finished off Together We Were Made we haven’t really worked on anything new. So, although we’ve still got some shows coming up and we’ll be promoting the singles collection, we’ve got a little bit of time to start playing around with some new ideas.
Have you got any drumming ideas?
Well, it’s early days really. We only started about two hours ago.
This is your big chance! “Guys, I think we should do a drum vocal!”
Haha! Yes, or “Maybe I should take lead vocals from now on?”
Singing and drumming. It’s a new angle.
Absolutely. It worked for Phil Collins and Levon Helm from The Band. Or it might come out a bit more like Ringo Starr.
“So, yeah, guys, maybe we could put the drums at the front?”
Yes, and they could just stand behind me and still be seen. I think they did try that for a while on Top of the Pops in the 60s, actually. Then they realised that drummers just gurn and make horrible faces. That’s when they got moved to the back.
It must be nice to be starting work with a completely blank page, though.
Definitely. We’re trying to organise some intensive periods of a couple of days where we can stay overnight back to back. That would traditionally involve a trip to the pub and then returning slightly squiffy and everyone swapping instruments and that’s when the bizarre, no-holds-bars ideas come from. Rosé is the perfect example of that sort of evening.
So, how did the idea for the singles collection come about?
I think Dan explained it perfectly in the announcement, really. It’s just a nice way to summarise what’s happened so far, and build on the interest around the Burberry ad. On the tour we just did, the set was predominantly made up of the singles, and it was amazing seeing people’s responses to that. The warmth and love in the room - particularly on the final night in Shepherd’s Bush - blew us all away. It certainly showed us that a lot of people love those songs.
And the Burberry ad is going across the world?
Apparently so. It’ll be on TV in places where our label don’t even have offices. So hopefully people will notice it and be drawn towards finding out more about us. I think it’ll start showing on TV in the next couple of weeks and be shown a lot in the build-up to Christmas. There are varying lengths of the ad, and we cut a version of the song to fit every one. So they’re all slightly different.
Is there a version of the advert where the trench coat disappears completely?
I would think that version is kept under lock and key. I’ve heard a rumour that there’s a version with Dan in that position wearing the Burberry coat too. We’re in talks about using that for the aftershave ad. Haha!
When we posted news of the singles collection, the fans immediately began to worry that this is the beginning of the end for the band.
No, it definitely isn’t. And we definitely don’t want anybody to think that. It just seemed like a nice thing to do, and then continue on as we did before. And we certainly do not want to leave people waiting for two and a half years for an album again. We want the next album to be as good as it can possibly be, but we’ll try to avoid any delays this time. So, no, we’re definitely here to stay.
The five of you do all seem to still take an enormous amount of pleasure from playing music.
Absolutely. We still feel tremendously lucky that we’re able to earn our living as musicians, doing the thing that we all deeply love. We are very aware of how lucky we are to be in that position.
The music industry does deal in massive highs and lows. But you seem to have been able to keep your heads amidst that.
I think so. You have to be a little bit pragmatic about the whole thing. It’s an industry with lots of potential pitfalls and things which don’t quite work out, but a lot of that is out of your control. You just have to put those things behind you and move onto the next thing. But hopefully the thing that remains constant is the quality of the music and fans wanting to hear it. It’d definitely be nice to do another singles collection in another five years with just as much good material on it.
What else is coming up for the band?
There will be some shows this side of Christmas. And we’ve got a few TV and radio appearances coming up. And we’re extremely excited to be playing at the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala at the Royal Albert Hall. Apparently that’s going to be broadcast on Sky Arts on Christmas Day - and on Sky 3D. So you can watch us in 3D on Christmas Day if you’ve got nothing better to do.
Wow, cool! You’ll have to push your sticks towards the camera so it feels like people are going to get their eyes poked out.
Which has probably happened in real life when I throw sticks out at the end of a gig.
You should put attach them to those little parachutes you get with toy soldiers.
That’s a brilliant idea! I’m going to look into that!
So, you chaps enjoyed the UK tour?
Oh, the whole thing was great. We’d been itching to get out and do a full tour, with the space to put on a proper show. And we enjoyed absolutely every minute. The reaction really was great, particularly at Shepherd’s Bush. London audiences are spoilt for choice, with so many gigs happening every day of the week, so it can be a little bit harder to really get people going there. But the crowd were on it right from the start. It really warmed our hearts.
Have you started making plans for next year?
Well, I know I was talking about avoiding any major issues which would delay the next album, but my big news is I’m going to be a father!
Oh, wow, congratulations!
Yes, sometime around April.
And Richard’s expecting another too.
Exactly! I’d told the boys about ours at the Birmingham show, and then Sophie and Richard announced theirs at Shepherd’s Bush. I think they’re only a couple of weeks behind. So, right around the same time we’re going to be two tired fathers.
That also means Sinead was on stage at Shepherd’s Bush with your unborn child.
She was! I dreamt my whole life of playing there and it took until 2006. My child has done it before even being born.
Right, readers’ questions. Diane notes that BS Rules The World is the only song from last year’s preview shows which hasn’t yet made it onto a release. She wonders what’s happened to it.
Good question! We still really love that song, but we just couldn’t quite find the right way of recording and producing it to fit with everything else. But that one has actually been knocking around since 1998 or 1999. It’s a great song, though. We still just need to find the right way to present it. We’ll keep trying.
Darren asks what the best and worst things about being on tour are.
OK, I can answer it with the same thing. When you’re not at home, you don’t have to deal with anything, like bills coming in or stuff breaking down and day to day things like that. But then when you get home after a few weeks you have a mountain of stuff to do. That’s like crashing right back down to earth.
Nikki has heard you saying you’re a Phil Collins/Genesis fan and asks what your favourite song is.
I’m more of a fan of Phil Collins’ solo stuff, although Genesis were a great band. It’s an obvious answer, but I’ll say In The Air Tonight. When I was learning to play drums on a bunch of ice cream tubs on a drumkit I built for myself out of ice cream tubs and cardboard boxes, I only had three tapes, one of which was the Phil Collins Face Value album, and that’s the opening track. Of course people probably know it more from the Dairy Milk advert now, but that track alone inspired me to want to be a drummer.
Have you ever covered it?
No, we haven’t actually.
Maybe that should be part of your suggestion for coming to the front from now on.
Yeah, exactly! “You know that song where the drums are the most important bit and everyone waits for the big drum fill? Let’s play that!”
Susan says you looked tired at Shepherd’s Bush and wonders how long it takes to recover from a long tour.
It does take a couple of days, actually. It is an increasingly physical show for me, with the way that I play. So there is a quite a high level of exertion. I have to pace myself each night so that the last note is with my last drop of energy. And with that Shepherd’s Bush show, with a full house and it being the last night of the tour with all the record company there, you want to make it the best show it can be. The last third of the gig really was really using every last bit of energy I had. So, well observed Susan! I definitely had to lie on the floor panting a lot after that one.